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Board 46: Multiple Intelligences and Undergraduate Engineering Education

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Educational Research and Methods Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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William E. Lee III P.E. University of South Florida

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Dr. Lee is a professor in the Dept. of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering and has a strong interest in philosophy of mind and epistemology and how these influence engineering education. Recent research has included investigations of problem solving, the creative process, and how engineering/science education can be informed by the visual and performing arts.

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Harvard professor Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences (MIs) in the early 1980’s, initially identifying seven distinct intelligences (also called learning styles in the MI literature): 1) visual-spacial; 2) bodily-kinesthetic; 3) musical; 4) interpersonal; 5) intrapersonal; 6) linguistic; and 7) logical-mathematical. According to Gardner: “students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways”. Yet, Gardner opines that the educational system often assumes that one learning style works for most (if not all) students just fine. Similarly, Amy Brualdi observed: “… they (MIs) are used concurrently and typically complement each other as individuals develop skills and solve problems”. Regarding engineering education specifically, there appears to be very little published literature regarding the application of MIs to the educational process and problem solving. This research examined how engineering students saw themselves and their educational experiences from an MI viewpoint. Over 200 junior/senior engineering students participated in the study that employed a survey instrument probing: 1) self-perception of the extent to which the student had any characteristics of each MI; 2) the student’s perception of the extent to which their engineering education was developing each of the MIs; and 3) the students projection of the extent to which their education should be developing each of the MIs. In the survey, students were provided detailed definitions of each MI and then used a seven point Likert scale to evaluate a variety of questions regarding each MI. Demographic questions allowed sorting by age group, engineering discipline, gender, parental educational achievement, and whether students had participated in multidisciplinary programs such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. This study found that most students felt they had characteristics of at least five of the MIs, with many of the students having at least two strong MIs (logical-mathematical and visual-spacial). However, most students felt that their engineering education was mainly focused on logical-mathematical, with some disciplines (for example, Civil Engineering) also having a strong component of visual-spacial. While most students felt that the education process should hit on several MIs, there was some variability to the extent they should be addressed within engineering classes. Students who came from families with college-educated parents and students who participated in IB programs tended to highly value the inclusion of several MIs in their education.

Lee, W. E. (2019, June), Board 46: Multiple Intelligences and Undergraduate Engineering Education Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32354

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