Differentiating Instruction Through Multiple Intelligences in a Middle School Mathematics Classroom

Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Jerita Whaley


Eighth grade students at a middle school in a southern state were required a mathematics pass rate of 67.6% to meet annual yearly progress (AYP). Black and Hispanic students performed below the required pass rate on state assessments; thus, the school did not make AYP from 2007-2010. In an attempt to address low test scores in mathematics, the principal assigned 1 teacher to implement multiple intelligences (MI) instructional strategies, while the other teachers (n = 3) would use traditional strategies. The purpose of this qualitative bounded, descriptive case study was to identify students' MI preferences through an MI inventory, to observe which MI strategies students used to solve problems, and to compare unit pre- and posttest scores of students who received MI strategies instruction with students who received a traditional approach. Gardner's MI theory served as the framework. Students' chosen MI included logical-mathematical, visual, and bodily kinesthetic as evidenced by students' tallied MI preferences and lesson observations. Classroom observations were analyzed with thematic analysis using open coding. Observation data revealed that students used MI techniques that aligned with their preferred intelligences to solve mathematics problems. According to unit test scores, Black and Hispanic students in the MI classes scored higher on the unit test than Black and Hispanic students in the more traditional classrooms. Based on the findings of this study, a mathematics professional development project was designed to help teachers improve instruction. These endeavors may contribute to positive social change for Black and Hispanic students when teachers design mathematics lessons using students' preferred MI to improve student achievement.

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