most important thing in thinking about our careers is to know what we are
good at, to seek what we are good at, and to get feedback from others so
we can continue to do what is a good match for us. When we focus
on what we are good at, we get positive feedback, which can't help but
lead us to do more of the right things. I don't think it makes sense
to prepare for jobs. Instead, people should think about the roles
they want to play, and their underlying areas of competence (Kennedy, 1998,
implies in the above quote, an important aspect of career development is
our ongoing need to know our strengths. A new dynamic model for identifying
and profiling our intellectual strengths, the theme of this commentary,
constitutes a major step in attempting to assess such competencies.
Our numerous intelligences can only be partially measured via the mainstream
view of intelligence as a single general factor, normally named 'g' (Gottfredson,
1996, 1997, 1998). As we tackle the new century, perhaps the time
is now ripe to retrain ourselves into thinking that our intelligences do
not stem solely from a language and logic frame of mind, a fossilized practice
still assumed by many mainstream psychologists (Carroll, 1997; Herrnstein
and Murray, 1994; Jensen 1969, 1982; Jensen & Weng, 1994; Siegel-Itzkovich,
above model of the mind -- the thesis that employees have many different
kinds of intelligences, with each intelligence using different parts of
the brain -- has interesting ramifications for career development. Stephen
Jay Gould (1996) best sums up this need to look beyond the standardized
intelligence quotient (IQ) test for real intelligences when he straightforwardly
considers the use of psychological testing to rank ones' worth on the basis
of a 'g' score, the major misuse of science in this century.
Perhaps it is time for workers to broaden their cognitive horizons and
to assess their multiple intelligences (MI) as theorized by
Gardner (1987, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998a, 1999).
research on using Gardner's MI model is prevalent in psychology (Chen and
Gardner, 1997; Gardner, 1993, 1994, 1999) and in education (Collins, 1998;
Gardner, 1998b,1999; Goldman and Gardner, 1988), limited information is
available within the career development field as to how workers might
their more dominant intelligences. In
short, that is the theme of this paper. Clearly, the MI model assesses
more than what IQ tests purport to measure -- a lot more. What the MI
model is and its possibilities within the career development field is now
Theory of Multiple Intelligences
Theory "was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Howard Gardner
and his colleagues" (Gardner, 1994, 2:740) and first formally outlined
in his seminal work,
Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
(Gardner, 1983/1993; see also Gardner 1987, 1998a). Simply put for
here, in that book he proclaimed that our mental ability were not sole
or fixed but that we possessed a blend of cognitive competencies that produced
a unique intellectual profile. Since that time, "Gardner's ideas
have received widespread attention and acceptance among parents and have
been eagerly embraced by teachers" (Collins, 1998, 152:62).
Criteria for Intelligences
the outset of his research on MI, during the late sixties and early seventies,
Gardner recognized that an important problem was that of setting up a rigorous
and specific set of criteria for what counted as an intelligence (Lazear,
1999, p. v). The evidence from which he drew his data came from an
elaborate set of criteria stemming from a rich variety of dissimilar beginnings,
including evidence from studies of brain damaged patients, prodigies, autistic
individuals, geniuses, developmental psychology, cross cultural comparisons,
biographies of gifted individuals and neurobiology.
distress with the typical view of intelligence initially arose from his
decades long research with talented children and with brain damaged adults.
His research results ultimately convinced him that anyone could be cognitively
"at promise" or "at risk" in a certain area of skill, and that strength
(or limitation) in one area failed to forecast accomplishments in another
domain. For example, if one was strong in telling stories, solving
mathematical proofs, navigating around unfamiliar terrain, learning an
unfamiliar song, mastering a new game that entailed dexterity, understanding
others, or understanding oneself, one simply did not know whether comparable
strengths (or weaknesses) could be found in other areas (Gardner, 1998b.
E4). While Gardner would be the first to admit that his list of eight
ways of solving problems and making products are not all encompassing,
he nevertheless believes that each of his intelligences showed a series
of criteria or signs" (Chapman, 1993, p. 6). To read his eight criteria,
sum up this section, Gardner believes that his eight (8) intelligences are
utilized "in the performance of roles that cultures value around the world"
(Collins, 1998, p, 63). As such, his postulations do not fit well
into either informational processing characteristics of intelligence or
into the traditional and narrower factorial analysis 'g' approach.
In a nutshell, his views about human cognition are broader than that of
practically any other mainstream cognitive psychologist.
claim to fame has been his ability to redefine the psychological construct
'intelligence' which he defines as the ability or set of abilities that
allows a person to solve a problem or to create and fashion a product in
such a way that the product is considered useful and valued within one
or more cultural settings (Gardner, 1993, x; Goleman and Gardner, 1988,
124). This particular definition of intelligence emphasizes the creative
and practical as well as the hypothetical-abstract aspects of a person's
intellectual abilities. The definition in innovative in that it acknowledges
the importance of the person-in-context and the social influences that
contribute to the recognition, activation and development of ones current
skills (Gardner, 1998a). Perhaps Marion Diamond and Janet Hopson
(1998) best sum up Gardner's overall mental model when they comment that
his works has "gotten enormous notoriety and acceptance in part because
it conforms our commonsense observations" (p. 197).
defining most briefly for here his intelligences, one short comment about
his two caveats. His MI theory rests on two noteworthy points.
First of all, he claims that all of "Homo Sapiens" possess all of his intelligences
but in varying degrees of strength, skill and limitation (Gardner, 1993,
1994, 1997, 1998a, 1998b, 1999; see especially Goleman and Gardner, 1988).
His other claim is that "just as we all look different and have unique
personalities and temperaments, we also have different profiles of intelligences"
(Gardner, 1998a, p. 21). In other words, no one kind of intelligence is
better than another kind of intelligence. Each of his eight intelligences
has its own and particular sphere of expertise. They "are to a significant
extent independent of one another" (Chen and Gardner, 1997, 107).
students demonstrate a high degree of linguistic and logical-mathematical
intelligence, that 'g' intelligence supposedly measured predominantly by
IQ tests. Here, intelligence is deemed to be a fixed, genetically
determined cognitive characteristic, which can be measured early on in
life and will (supposedly) determine an individual's overall intellectual
potential (Gottfredson, 1996, 1997, 1998). That viewpoint, in the
main, is inaccurate. If "individuals have distinctly different kinds
of minds" (Gardner, 1999, 45), then it is inappropriate to measure all
humans as if their minds were simply variations along a single bell curve
(see Herrnstein and Murray, 1994). Thus all ought to pay particular
attention to what is special within their own minds as well as within the
many kinds of minds of others over whom they have, in this case, career
are Gardner's eight (8) intelligences: linguistic-verbal
(a language based competence requiring superior listening, speaking, reading
and writing skills), logical-mathematical
(dealing with abstract concepts, patterns, and symbols required for deriving
(utilization of mental imagery for discerning orientation in space), bodily-kinaesthetic
(using physical body movements to express emotion), musical
(recognizing tonal and rhythmic patterns and creating harmony), interpersonal
(the ability to read the moods, motivations and mental states of others),
(an ability to access one's own feelings and to draw on such feelings to
guide one's behavior) and naturalist-environmental
(recognition and categorization of natural objects) (Gardner, 1998a; Morris
and Dionne, 1993a, 1993b; Morris and LeBlanc, 1996). How Branton
Shearer's MIDAS instrument was developed to self-profile these intelligences
is now discussed.
Gardner's MI model has been welcomed and practiced by many within the educational
arena, wider acceptance and use has been limited by the lack of a practical,
reliable and valid method of assessment. Dr. Charles Branton Shearer's
MIDAS represents one such method. The MIDAS provides an objective
measure of the multiple intelligences as reported of a person by the person
or by a knowledgeable informant (Shearer, 1991). Whereas IQ tests
serve to mark the limits of one's 'g', the MIDAS scales, on the other hand,
strive to describe the course and direction of intellectual growth and
achievement potential for each of the Gardner domains (Shearer, 1996a,
1996b). In short, the MIDAS provides an effective method of obtaining
a self descriptive profile of ones 'multiple intelligences.'
is a self report measure of intellectual disposition; it may be completed
by either the user (Shearer, 1998a, 1998b, 1998c) or, in the case of a
young child, by her/his parent (Shearer, 1998d). It takes about 35
minutes to complete the 119 multiple-choice questions that cover eight
areas of abilities, interests, skills and activities. Users are asked
to read each item and select what they perceive as the best answer at that
point in time in their life. It is so important that the responses
are realistic. As the MIDAS is not a test, there are no time limits
and as all humans differ so markedly, there are no right or wrong responses.
Users are not compelled to answer or guess at every question, as each item
has an "I don't know" or "Does not apply" choice. Users are asked
to select this answer whenever it best fits.
studies of its reliability and validity (Shearer, 1991, 1997a, 1997c; Shearer
and Jones, 1994; Way and Shearer, 1990) have indicated that the MIDAS scales
can provide a reasonable estimate of one's MI strengths and limitations
that correspond with external rating and criteria. The MIDAS scales
have been translated into Spanish and Korean and completed by approximately
10,000 people world-wide. The next section discusses how the MIDAS
tools can be used within the career development field.
MIDAS as a Career Development Tool
MIDAS for Adults version has been included in the curriculum of college
career exploration classes for four years and has been found to increase
student's self awareness to assist in career making and major selection
(Shearer, 1997c, 1998e). Various private and public schools from
Vancouver, British Columbia to Monterrey, Mexico and from Portland, Oregon
to Cambridge, Massachusetts are currently using the MIDAS to build an appreciation
for the educational applications of MI Theory. The MIDAS is also
being used extensively in teacher training, including the preparation of
new teachers in university training programs (Shearer, 1997b, 1998e).
For example, the MIDAS is being used as a teacher training tool at the
University of Calgary and at the University of Manitoba. Many American
universities, including Harvard and Kent State University are also using
the MIDAS as a preparation tool with novice teachers.
Profile is unique not only for its multiple intelligence scales but also
for its assessment method and philosophy of personalized education.
The MIDAS strives to provide realistic data for making informed choices,
but it does so from the person's perspective via careful questioning.
Following tabulation of the responses, results are offered back to the
person not as hard and unchanging truths but instead as useful hypotheses
for appraisal, elaboration, and action planning. Information gleaned
from a MIDAS Profile can also be used to formulate a personalized career
plan by recognizing, valuing, and focusing attention on areas of cognitive
strength and intellectual potential.
MIDAS Profile provides detailed information in three broad categories.
Page 1 gives a reasonable estimate of the person's intellectual disposition
in each of the eight intelligences. Page 1 also outlines three research
scales that estimate the users proclivity for Innovation, General Logic,
and Leadership. Page 2 describes particular intellectual activities
and actual outcomes. The final page highlights 26 types of sub skills
(e.g., Appreciation, Instrument, Vocal and Composer for the Musical intelligence).
From these three pages, an additional Brief Learning Summary (BLS) outline
can also be generated. The BLS outline well summarizes what one can
actually do and how good s/he is in the different intellectual activities.
Theory, first formalized and introduced nineteen years ago by Howard Earl
Gardner, continues to open the minds of educators, psychologists and career
developers world-wide as to how learning and training can be upgraded so
that all individuals may be better guided as they strive to achieve their
maximum intellectual potential. Gardner's definition challenges the one-dimensional
view of only measuring linguistic and logical-mathematical capabilities
... cognitive competencies upon which the IQ test was initially founded.
It is this narrow understanding of intelligence that assumes that one's
ability to learn and do things comes out of a fixed cognitive capacity
(Siegel-Itzkovich, 1998, p. 1).
has spent the past quarter century postulating that our minds are pluralistic
and organized in a multi-dimensional fashion. Perhaps more importantly,
he has attempted to convince us that our many knowledge stores are domain-specific
and arranged "vertically" as eight (or possibly more) independent content
faculties rather than "horizontally" as a single and "central processing
unit" for analyzing psychological constructs such as perception, memory,
From Gardner's view about cognitive
functioning, we now know that we possess a much broader set of intellectual
skills than traditionally assumed by mainstream psychological thinking. Today's
workers are not simply learners constrained by one general IQ-type intelligence
or one general problem solving ability. Instead, they ought now to be
perceived as beings capable of uneven cognitive achievements in eight relatively
self-contained domain specific intelligences (Morris, 1991abc, 1992abc,
1993abc, 1994ab, 1995, 1996, 1997abcdef, 1998ab, 1999abc, 2000ab, 2001; Morris &
Dionne, 1993ab; Morris & Leblanc, 1996).
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