Please compare and contrast Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences with Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Howard Gardner and Robert Sternberg are experts in their field and there is a basic similarity between their theories in that they both believe in a broader definition of intelligence than traditionally recognized. Both believe there are far more complex functions involved.

Both men were  recognized as being exceptional from an early age.

An accomplished child pianist who considered playing piano professionally, Howard Gardner focused his research on

the nature of human intelligence, the nature of and development of abilities in the arts and how they relate to and reflect intelligence, and on educational processes.

Robert Sternberg showed his interest in the study of intelligence from a young age when, at age 12, having received low IQ scores due to his anxiety, he was able to use his own methods. In his seventh grade year he designed a test of his own -  "The Sternberg Test of Mental Ability."

Sternberg purports that life and experiences create a whole person through

a composition of creativity, emotional balance, and cognitive abilities

Gardner has a view that there is a strong link between specific brain function and ability in particular areas which identifies seven distinct types of intelligence and each person has a level of each. Critics of Gardners multiple intelligences, particularly Sternberg,  argue that evidence to prove his theory is lacking, mainly due to the link to culture and application in specific circumstances. Both men  do recognize the importance of cognitive abilities but differ on  interpretation. They both understand that a person can appear more intelligent in one field over another. Gardner focuses on academic ability far more than Sternberg.

Sternberg's theory then has a more practical application, helping people develop as a whole which, in turn will allow them to develop appropriately for their surroundings, regardless of their academic - or supposedly lack of academic- intelligence.

Sternberg is more widely acclaimed than Gardner as his theories have proven themselves simply in application, something that Gardner has been unable to do.