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Open to Interpretation: Multiple Intelligences Theory in Adult Literacy Education


by Silja Kallenbach & Julie Viens — 2004

This paper discusses how adult literacy educators chose to apply multiple intelligences (MI) theory. The findings fall into two categories of teachers’ interpretation, MI-inspired instruction, and MI reflections. The resulting findings were that these MI-inspired teaching approaches helped to reduce teacher directedness and increase student control and initiative; to increase the authenticity of the learning experiences; and to make learning meaningful or relevant to students. Having MI-based learning choices made adult learners more confident about taking greater control of their own learning, and it pushed teachers to allow that to happen. Choice-based activities were instrumental in increasing the relevance and meaning of lessons and in reducing teacher directedness. Understanding the link between students’ perceptions of their abilities and their actual academic performance, AMI teachers set out to create oppor-tunities for students to reflect about their strengths, weaknesses, and interests connec-ting them to the MI framework. Our data suggest that this, and other forms of MI reflections, prompted adult learners to see themselves as learners in a morepositive light after identifying and reflecting on their own abilities. This was particularly the case when they were able to apply their abilities to successful learning strategies in the classroom.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 106 Number 1, 2004, p. 58-66
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11509, Date Accessed: 10/21/2017 3:33:25 PM

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About the Author
  • Silja Kallenbach
    World Education, Inc.
    E-mail Author
    SILJA KALLENBACH is codirector of the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) Study for the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) at Harvard Graduate School of Education and is coauthor of the research report Open to Interpretation: Multiple Intelligences in Adult Education, published by NCSALL in 2002, and Multiple Intelligences in Adult Education: A Sourcebook for Practitioners (in press) and is coeditor of Multiple Intelligences in Practice, published by NCSALL in 2001.
  • Julie Viens
    Harvard Project Zero
    E-mail Author
    JULIE VIENS is codirector of the Adult Multiple Intelligences (AMI) Study for the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) at Harvard Graduate School of Education and is coauthor of the research report Open to Interpretation: Multiple Intelligences in Adult Education, published by NCSALL in 2002, and Multiple Intelligences in Adult Education: A Sourcebook for Practitioners (in press) and is coeditor of Multiple Intelligences in Practice, published by NCSALL in 2001.
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