4 Evaluate Your Learning Skills and Strengths

Even if the college environment is new to you, you already come with a set of learning skills, strengths, and strategies that can contribute to your success. Take some time to reflect on the following questions.

Consider a learning experience in the past that was successful for you.

  1. What were you able to learn?
  2. What did you do that helped you succeed in your learning?
"Word smart" - Linguistic Intelligence "Number smart" - Mathematical Intelligence "Picture smart" - Visual/spatial Intelligence "Body smart" - Kinesthetic Intelligence "Music smart" - Musical Intelligence "People smart" - Interpersonal Intelligence "Self smart" - Intrapersonal Intelligence "Nature smart" - Naturalistic Intelligence
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Image Credit: Graeme Robinson-Clogg

We often associate learning in college with reading and writing. Though it’s true those skills are important, you can also apply other learning strengths to help you succeed.

One framework for evaluating your personal strengths is Multiple Intelligences, based on research by Howard Gardner.

Gardner suggested that there are 8 different ways of learning, creating things, and solving problems. Everyone uses all 8 of these intelligences; however, in each individual, some intelligences are stronger, while others may be weaker. This is why we have different preferences in learning activities.

Multiple Intelligences Table[1][2]
Intelligence Description
  • Word Smart – Linguistic Intelligence
  • The ability to use language to express what’s on your mind and to understand other people.
  • People who are high in this intelligence are sensitive to language, meanings, and the relationship of words. They engage easily with vocabulary activities, grammar, poetry, essays, and plays.
  • Number Smart – Mathematical Intelligence
  • People with a highly developed logical-mathematical intelligence understand or can manipulate numbers, quantities, and operations.
  • People high in this intelligence prefer abstract thinking, counting, organizing and logical structures.
  • Picture Smart – Visual/spatial Intelligence
  • The ability to represent the spatial world internally in your mind.
  • Spatial intelligence can be used in the arts or in the trades and sciences.
  • These people tend to be keen observers.
  • Learning materials that work well for them include: graphs, charts, colour codes, guided imagery, pictures, and mind maps.
  • Body Smart – Kinesthetic Intelligence
  • The ability to use your whole body or parts of your body to solve a problem, make something, or put on a production.
  • These people have good body control and fine motor skills; and are often active and animated.
  • They need “hands-on” learning opportunities, like shop, labs, games, and plays.
  • Music Smart – Musical Intelligence
  • The ability to think in music, to be able to hear, recognize and remember patterns.
  • People who have a strong musical intelligence don’t just remember music easily – they can’t get it out of their minds. People can be sensitive to rhythm, pitch, and intonation.
  • They tend to like poems, songs, and musically guided imagery.
  • People Smart – Interpersonal Intelligence
  • Understanding other people. Anybody who deals with other people must be skilled in interpersonal communication.
  • This is a social intelligence and those who are high in this area are outgoing and interactive; sensitive to others’ moods, feelings, and motivations.
  • Self Smart – Intrapersonal Intelligence
  • Understanding yourself, knowing who you are, what you can do, what you want to do, how you react to things, which things to avoid, and which things to gravitate toward.
  • These people tend to know where to go if they need help.
  • Nature Smart – Naturalistic Intelligence
  • The ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals), sensitivity to other features of nature (clouds, rock configurations) and a good sense of their surroundings and environment.
  • These people can be sensitive to changes around them, both outdoors and indoors.

It’s important to know that we can continue to develop our intelligence, and use multiple intelligence to learn. Your brain continues to grow and develop over time, even into adulthood.

Try it!

Consider how you could use the Multiple Intelligences theory to understand your strengths and learn new subject matter in any course.

  1. What did you discover about your learning strengths?
  2. Identify your 2 to 3 strongest intelligences.
  3. How will you use these intelligences in class?
  4. How could you use all eight of the intelligence to learn in one of your courses.

Enter your answers in the activity below.

  1. Adapted from: Armstrong, T. (2017, May). Multiple intelligences in the higher education classroom. Keynote presentation presented at the Learning Specialists Association of Canada National Conference, Montreal, QC.
  2. Kwantlen Polytechnic University Learning Centres. (n.d.). Learning with your multiple intelligences. Retrieved from https://www.kpu.ca/sites/default/files/Learning%20Centres/Study_MultipleIntelligences_LA.pdf


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