It’s possible to improve our functionality by taking just a quick look at the theories used in Educational Psychology. Here, we’re going to look at one of the gateway theories that can help us to improve our performance in almost any educational situation.
Take the classic story of a seven year old pupil in 1880s America, who overheard a teacher saying that his learning abilities were ‘addled’. The child was obviously upset at this, and even though the teacher was having genuine difficulties in teaching the boy, we can all recognise the inappropriate way this opinion was expressed.
That boy grew up to become Thomas Edison. The inventor reflected on this moment later in his life, when he was interviewed by a local newspaper.
Even though the world of education has advanced immeasurably since this era, it’s still interesting to ask: would Edison’s type of intelligence have been easier to understand if they knew back then what we do now regarding Educational Psychology?
Multiple intelligence types
One of the many fascinating facets of psychology degrees are personality and intelligence modules. Developmental psychologist Howard Gardner was the first to publish the seven main types of intelligence in 1983, and since then several more have been added to the roster. Here, we give you an overview these intelligence types.
We’ve all met people with the uncanny ability to visualise the world around them to an above average level. Their minds are able to create three-dimensional psychological constructs, which they can then relay back to the physical world. The way it’s relayed can vary from high level navigational skills, to creating architectural designs that show an impressive spatial awareness.
This particular type of intelligence is often linked to creative abilities where a person is able to modify and transform their own perceptions to re-create aspects of their visual experience. The true sign of someone who has high levels of this intelligence type is when they can perform this re-creation without the presence of any physical stimuli to guide them.
Someone who rates high with this intelligence type has a natural gift for communication. These are the writers, story tellers, and high level speakers, who have an understanding of sounds and word patterns that allows them to express themselves in a way that sets them apart.
This is the most widespread intelligence type, as most individuals use these skills every day. The difference with people who have this type at unusually high levels is that they employ meta-skills when they communicate, and are able to convey complex meanings and ideas using particular hybrids of written/verbal mediums.
Each type of intelligence is a hybrid of types that refers to more than just ‘being good with numbers or words’ etc. People with high levels logical-mathematical intelligence are often able to see beyond the surface levels of perceived data, identify overall patterns, and also relate their perceptions to abstract thinking.
This type of intelligence is not limited to mathematics alone, but to the overall ability to reason and create hypotheses which one can relay in a rational way. The main way in which an Educational Psychologist uses these theories initially is by analysing which intelligence type is dominant. Of course, there may be more than one – in the case of a genius for example – but they offer a good starting point in understanding talents and natural skill levels.
From the very beginning, no matter who they meet, some people are consistently able to get along with almost anyone. The functionality of a person with high levels of interpersonal intelligence works in a specific way, since their ability to read, relay, understand and communicate is naturally advanced.
People that are high on this spectrum are able to sense things like temperament and non-verbal signals particularly well. These individuals are often suited to professions like politics, teaching, and any roles that are heavily dependent on social abilities.
With this intelligence type, the person has the ability to understand themselves in a particularly in-depth manner, to the extent that they can even contribute to our knowledge of the overall human experience by sharing their insights. There is often a link between introversion and intrapersonal intelligence, although it also depends on which of their other intelligence types are most salient.
When this intelligence type is highly evident, individuals often find themselves drawn to areas like psychology, philosophy, writing, and spirituality related endeavours. Also, they can often be very good at planning and organising their lives, since they have an in-depth understanding of themselves, and how to apply this knowledge to their daily routine.
6) Bodily Kinaesthetic
We find this intelligence type in our natural athletes. Of course, we can all practice and improve our abilities in different areas, but some people have that additional element that is hard to teach. Normally, they’ll have excellent hand-to-eye coordination skills, and can often be highly proficient in more than one particular physical discipline.
Another interesting trait of people imbued with this intelligence is that they will often remember having ‘done’ things, as supposed to having ‘heard’ or ‘seen’. There are common traits like this with all the intelligence types, where an individual is likely to express themselves in a particular manner depending on their intelligence mix.
Not only are people with dominant musical intelligence drawn to the appreciation, composition, and performance of music, but they also think in the types of patterns related to sound and rhythm. These characteristics often have a direct connection to how they remember things, giving them the ability to understand complex musical arrangements.
There is often a connection between the mathematical and musical intelligences, as there are between many of them. This is how the theory is best used, as the focus is not on pigeonholing a person with one or two intelligence types, but in understanding the unique hybrid that they have resulting from their relationships.
This newer addition relates to people who are so in-tune with their surroundings, that they not only have a strong affinity for natural environments, but are often able to pick-up on even the most subtle of changes to it. This intelligence type relates to people with a high sensitivity for detecting, understanding, and exploring these changes, whereby they are well suited to vocations directly linked to the environment.
At the most basic level, this type of intelligence helps us to discriminate between the living and the inanimate. Then at the higher levels, some are able to read and understand configurations (e.g. environmental forecasting) in the natural world that others less sensitive to similar stimuli would be less likely to detect.
9) One for the road: Existential
As well as the addition of Naturalistic Intelligence, another addition to Gardener’s list is Existential Intelligence. It is exactly how it sounds: a high level of ability to explore existential ideas. This type of intelligence lends itself naturally to developing philosophic ideas, and the ability to contribute to their progression.
A good Educational Psychologist is in-touch with the overall educational continuum, and they are crucial to its development. This specialisation offers the privilege of being able to alter the nature of how we understand education itself, and is broad in its responsibility spectrum. If you’re interested in studying Psychology at BSc level, and want to get an idea of how to enter the world of Educational Psychology, take a look at this course outline today.
MSc Psychology (BPS)
The MSc Psychology (BPS) is an online master's programme that explores the core areas of clinical psychology to improve ethical and evidence-based decision-making skills.