The Relationships among Sternberg's Triarchic Abilities, Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, and Academic Achievement

By Ekinci, Birsen | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, April 20, 2014 | Go to article overview

The Relationships among Sternberg's Triarchic Abilities, Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, and Academic Achievement


Ekinci, Birsen, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


Since 1980 there has been increasing interest in the role of intelligence in learning and its impact on student achievement. Similarly to education theorists, many researchers on intelligence have been conducting studies to apply theories about intelligence, to education in general and, in particular, to the instructional context of the classroom (Castejón, Gilar, & Perez, 2008). The main difference between contemporary and older approaches to the role of intelligence is that, in earlier conceptualizations, intelligence was described as involving one factor of general mental ability that encompasses the common variance among all the contributing factors. The existence of this general intelligence factor was originally hypothesized by Spearman in 1927 and labeled as "g" (see Jensen, 1998). It was hypothesized that this g factor exists over and above the various abilities that make up intelligence, including verbal, spatial visualization, numerical reasoning, mechanical reasoning, and memory (Carroll, 1993). However, according to contemporary theories, intelligence must be regarded as existing in various forms and the levels of intelligence can be improved through education. The most widely accepted comparative theories of intelligences in recent literature are Gardner's (1993) multiple intelligences theory and Sternberg's (1985) triarchic theory of intelligence. Researchers have reported significant differences between student outcomes for classroom instruction conducted following the principles of multiple intelligences, and student outcomes under traditionally designed courses of instruction in science (Özdermir, Güneysu, & Tekkaya, 2006), reading (Al-Balhan, 2006), and mathematics (Douglas, Burton, & Reese-Durham, 2008).

Gardner (1993) developed a theory of multiple intelligences that comprises seven distinct areas of skills that each person possesses to different degrees. Linguistic intelligence (LI) is the capacity to use words effectively, either orally or in writing. Logical-mathematical intelligence (LMI) is the capacity to use numbers effectively and to reason well. Spatial intelligence (SI) is the ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately and to interpret these perceptions. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (KI) involves expertise in using one's body to express ideas and feelings. Musical intelligence (MI) is the capacity to perceive, discriminate, and express musical forms. Interpersonal intelligence (INPI) is the ability to perceive, and make distinctions in, the moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people. Intrapersonal intelligence (INTI) is self-knowledge and the ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge. Naturalist intelligence (NI) is expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species - the flora and fauna - of a person's environment (Armstrong, 2009).

Researchers have addressed the relationship between multiple intelligences and metrics of different abilities, and of various psychological constructs. Reid, Romanoff, Algozzine, and Udall (2000) showed that SI, LI, and LMI were related to scores in a test to measure the nonverbal abilities of pattern completion, reasoning by analogy, serial reasoning, and spatial visualization, among a group of handicapped and nonhandicapped children aged between 5 and 17 years. Furthermore, the effects of multiple intelligences-based teaching strategies on students' academic achievement have been studied extensively (Al-Balhan, 2006; Douglas et al., 2008; Greenhawk, 1997; Mettetal, Jordan, & Harper, 1997; Özdermir et al., 2006). In addition, some researchers have investigated the relationship between multiple intelligences and academic achievement (McMahon, Rose, & Parks, 2004; Snyder, 1999). McMahon and colleagues found that, compared with other students, fourth-grade students with higher scores on LMI were more likely to demonstrate reading comprehension scores at, or above, grade level. …

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