Data visualisation: Learning objectives and Gardner’s MI

This week is the last week of school for me, before the Winter break (I know they couldn’t have scheduled that later…), and I took a closer look at the learning objectives I set for this week.

Ever since I came across the theory of multiple intelligences (MI) by Howard Gardner, I have been fascinated by this “pluralistic view of mind, recognising many different and discrete facets of cognition, acknowledging that people have different cognitive strengths and contrasting cognitive styles” (Gardner, 2006, p.5). This approach enables teachers to see and recognise their students’ abilities. Willisamson et al. (2020) mention that “Not all forms of learning can be quantified and ana- lyzed. And this means, potentially, that not all forms of teaching and learning will ‘count’ in terms of how teachers and students are measured and assessed.” (p.357/358). By applying Gardners’ MI to your teaching, you could argue that it almost counteracts this limitation because you, as an educator, determine right at the outset what and how a learning objective will be assessed. A holistic approach can support your students learning immensely.

For this week, I analysed the learning objectives I set for my lessons, according to Gardners MI:

Legend to my visualisation below

I simply used paper straws for my visualisation, with every straw representing a learning goal in the matching colour and tile crosses as connectors.

Data visualisation of my access to devices (week 7 / Block 2)

I guess you could say that these tile crosses also connect the various intelligences and, therefore, this week’s objectives. It is quite interesting to me that although I predominantly teach languages, I managed to include picture smart and people smart within these lessons. In my view, it is so important to take multiple approaches to learning: I can observe how diverse the learning and skills of my students are. Broader learning objects, which take these differences into account, support and challenge my students.
However, I could not identify bodily-kinesthetic and naturalistic intelligence within the learning outcomes for this week. This is definitely something to keep in mind when planning future modules.

If you want to read further into this subject I highly recommend Gardners book, you can find it in the reference list below: Chapter 1: “In a Nutshell”, gives you an excellent overview. 


Gardner, H., 2006. Multiple intelligences new horizons Completely rev. and updated, New York: BasicBooks.

Williamson, B. Bayne, S. Shay, S. 2020. The datafication of teaching in Higher Education: critical issues and perspectives. Teaching in Higher Education. 25(4), pp. 351-365.

One Reply to “Data visualisation: Learning objectives and Gardner’s MI”

  1. I do like the use of paper straws to visualize learning goals. One question that does come out of your viz and commentary is about the use of multiple intelligence theory. This is for two reasons: 1) it reminded me of an old 1993 paper by Gardner in which he imagines how “new interactive technologies” could identify students’ multiple intelligence profiles and then “match” teaching to them. See p. 8 here:
    Short snippit:

    “the school of the future might have the ‘student-curriculum broker’. It would be his or her job to help match students’ profiles, goals and interests to particular curricula and to particular styles of learning. Incidentally, I think that the new interactive technologies offer considerable promise in this area: it will probably be much easier in the future for ‘brokers’ to match individual students to ways of learning that prove comfortable for them.”

    So Gardner was way ahead of the curve thinking about “personalized learning” through tech.

    2) The other issue is that by selecting Gardner, you’ve emulated what many designers of educational technologies do, which is to take one particular theory of learning and make it the central focus for measuring and categorizing students. But what if, as an educator, you fundamentally disagreed with Gardner’s theory, but your institution insisted on monitoring your teaching using it?

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