Teach English in Xidoupu Zhen - Baotou Shi

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Growing up, most of us were accustomed to the regular paper and pencil tests as a form of assessment and evaluation of our progress in school. School periodical exams, national standardized exams or even regular quizzes are all done through the traditional paper and pencil tests. Students who rank high in these tests are considered the “smart” ones while students who rank low in these tests are considered “low performers”. This is a huge misconception that has long been challenged by the Theory of Multiple Intelligences that was coined by Howard Gardner. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences has changed the way many psychologists and educators perceive intelligence. According to Gardner, intelligence is multifaceted and dynamic. It goes beyond the traditionally valued linguistic and logical abilities. Gardner identified a total of 9 intelligences: logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic and existential. Each intelligence represents the different ways a person processes information. A logical-mathematical intelligent person is great at developing equations, making calculations, and solving abstract problems. People with visual/spatial intelligence are artistically perceptive and are very aware of their surroundings. Verbal-linguistic intelligence denotes strong verbal communication and great verbal aptitude. On the other hand, bodily-kinesthetic intelligent people excel at tasks that require physical movement, while musically intelligent individuals are good at thinking in patterns, rhythms, and sounds. Interpersonal intelligence reflects an ability to recognize and understand others while intrapersonal intelligence refers to a person’s ability to recognize and assess one’s own feelings, values and thinking processes. Naturalist exhibits a profound appreciation and understanding of the natural environment while existentialists contemplate deep questions about human existence. The theory does not state that a person only has one the nine intelligences, but rather is stronger in some than the others. Because of these various types of intelligences, a “one-size fits all” approach in both teaching strategies and student assessment is no longer advisable. As educators, it is very important that we create and design our lessons as well as our evaluation methods to cater to the different intelligences of our students. The traditional paper and pencil tests that most of us have long been accustomed to should not be the only method of assessment that a teacher employs when checking on their students’ knowledge. Providing students with multiple ways to demonstrate their current knowledge, newly acquired skills, and learning progress will provide teachers with a more balanced and a more accurate understanding of their students’ development, and the efficacy of the course or syllabus they designed. With that in mind, aside from paper and pencil tests, we can check our student’s understanding of the new concept learned through role play, oral recitations, reflection papers, group/pair work, drawing, creative writing, debates, etc. You will find that sometimes a student may not do well in answering an essay test but will be great at demonstrating their understanding through a role-play activity. At the same time, a student may be too shy to excel in role play but can profoundly showcase their understanding of the teaching point through a reflection paper. Aside from providing the teacher with more a fair and balanced method of assessment, employing a variety of assessment methods will give students the opportunity to shine where they are best at. Thereby enhancing their self-esteem and boosting their confidence in their own abilities. The traditional paper and pencil tests have been a teachers’ haven for a long time. Moving away from the constant use of this type of test can be daunting and taxing all at the same time. However, as educators, we owe it to our students to provide them with a variety of assessment and evaluation methods that would allow them to demonstrate the full scope of their knowledge and capabilities. Thus, it is imperative that we design our assessment methods around the principles of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.