For my independent review, I elected to focus on Multiple Intelligences as a theory of education. I believe that this theory has significant capability for UD for a variety of reasons.
General Information about Multiple Intelligences
The theory of Multiple Intelligences was formulated by Howard Gardner in the early ’80s. Gardner felt that the discussion of intelligence as being one dimensional, or that one has it or they don’t was missing an essential component of human understanding. In his initial writing on the subject, Gardner posited that there were seven distinct intelligences that complemented each other and were held at different levels in each person. The original seven intelligences were as follows:
Logical-Mathematical- finding patterns, using deductive reasoning
Linguistic- mastery of language
Spatial-manipulating and creating mental images
Musical-recognizing pitches tones and rhythms
Bodily Kinesthetic- coordinating body movements
Inter and Intrapersonal_ How one understands others and oneself
The first two of the list, in Gardener’s view were the intelligences that had typically been focused on in the traditional sense of teaching and thinking about intelligence. By failing to recognize the other 5, some students were being left behind or incapable of success because their strengths are not tapped.
In addition to theorizing that these various intelligences existed, Gardener also challenged the status quo in arguing that both biology were at play in cultivating these intelligences.The key is recognizing strengths and intelligences and allowing students to use them in learning and assessment activities.
Application to UDL:
Arguing that everyone possessed the intelligences at different levels requires educators to think about those intelligences when planning a lesson or program. By relaying information in a variety of media, the entire audience can benefit because the information will interact with their intelligences at different levels of understanding.
Gardener suggested that intelligence was the ability to solve problems in a way that worked in one or more cultural setting. This philosophy rings true to me, as I believe intelligence is much more than ones ability to solve a math problem or write an essay. Looking at intelligence as a method of solving problems in the most appropriate way for the user provides significant flexibility as to how to assess ability and competence.
Please check the following for more information and some ideas as to how to bring this concept into fruition:
What struck me the most in the discussion of UDL Principle 1 was how much sense it makes, yet how complicated it seems on the implementation side. It is intuitive to me that no one way of transmitting information will be effective for everyone
I have come in to this course with little to no background in disability studies generally or universal design specifically. This week’s readings were a perfect introduction to the concepts that we will be talking about for the remainder of the semester. It was clear, particularly in the readings focused on disability studies, that it is a field that is still in its infancy and that there is much more work to be done.
The article and study by Ginsburg and Shulte revealed how much work there is to be done. I appreciated that they spelled out the differentiation between conventional and social constructivist approaches to disability. It was helpful to think of this topic in that way because of the similarity that I can find in regard to the orientation of the deficit as either being on the side of the individual or within the systems that are meant to serve that individual. My experience thus far has been to work in a system that looks at disability from a conventional standpoint, that it the student had a deficit in skills or abilities. In that setting as a Area Coordinator at Bard College, I was in a position in which I had to constantly wait to get any documentation to allow for any accommodation in regard to a students housing. I was not enabled to be proactive and think about the things that were missing from the system to enable all students to be successful.
The critique I have about the study is that it was not discussed if there were specific areas in which faculty were more in the social constructivist mindset. I am curious what impact discipline and tenure has to do with the way in which faculty framed their actions. I am also curious what impact the tenure and promotion process has on some faculty members willingness and ability to approach their classes and students from a Universal Design perspective.
The Young and Mintz article was a bit of a challenge for me, not because I disagreed with their argument, but because I am not familiar enough with disability studies or universal design to translate their article into methodology. I think that the discussion of the use of “expertise” and the tendency to develop a relationship of dependency was particularly difficult for me because I am not sure how to create the level of expertise and understanding within everyone working in a college environment to create systems that will help students to be successful.
I am looking forward to all of your feedback and to the class discussions about these readings and the rest of the topics we will discuss throughout the semester!