Multiple Intelligences and Six Sigma Training

I am often asked to provide recommendations on how to develop and/or select Six Sigma training programs.  An interesting and very useful theory of how people develop and learn is the theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed by Howard Gardner, PhD, Professor of Education at Harvard University.

This theory explains that each of us has a unique set of skills and abilities based on the intelligences that we possess.  Our preferences for how we like to learn and how well we learn have a great influence on how much potential we develop as a result of training and coaching.  Therefore, a well thought out training program should address the use of as many of the intelligences as possible in order to appeal to and be effective for a broad range of students.

Gardner’s theory can be used for curriculum development, planning instruction, selection of course activities, and related assessment strategies.  Instruction which is designed to help students develop their strengths can also trigger their confidence to develop areas in which they are not as strong.

Students’ multiple learning preferences can be addressed when instruction includes a range of meaningful and appropriate methods, activities, and assessments.

Here is a description of the nine intelligences (or competencies) and some ideas on how to effectively address them in a training course:


Intelligence Description Ways to Address in the Classroom
Verbal – Linguistic Intelligence Well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings and rhythms of words


·         Give an oral presentation

·         List the strengths and weaknesses of a product or process

·         Write job instructions

·         Brainstorm and summarize on a flip chart

·         Solve a crossword puzzle

·         Write a review of a chapter in a text book


Logical – Mathematical Intelligence Ability to think conceptually and

abstractly, and capacity to discern logical and numerical patterns.


·         Perform a mathematical calculation

·         Develop a process to measure something

·         Conduct a study to evaluate a measurement process

·         Read a case study and recommend one or more courses of action

·         Create  Venn diagram

·         Create a time line

Spatial – Visual Intelligence Capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly.


·         Create a workplace layout

·         Evaluate and improve a work method

·         Use videos, graphs, posters, and pictures to convey information

·         Create a swim-lane flowchart


Bodily – Kinesthetic Intelligence Ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully. ·         Get up and change seats to form small groups for an activity.

·         Have small groups move from one flip chart to another while creating a summary of points learned.

·         Play charades


Musical Intelligences Ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch and timber ·         Play music during an activity.

·         Replace the words of a song with words that explain something that has been learned.

Interpersonal Intelligence Capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations and desires of others. ·         Coach another person

·         Demonstrate feelings through body language

·         Interpret moods from facial expressions

·         Conduct a survey

Intrapersonal Intelligence Capacity to be self -aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs and thinking processes ·         Develop one’s own goals and aims

·         Video tape someone giving a talk so they can self-critique.

·         Partner or small group discussions.

·         Evaluate one’s own performance on a quiz or test.


Naturalist Intelligence Ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature ·         Categorize a list of items by creating an affinity diagram.

·         Create a scheme for stratifying data.

Existential intelligence Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as, What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here? ·         Plan a charity event

·         Discuss the impact of current events or social trends


When choosing any type of training, look for courses that employ a wide variety of these types of exercises and embrace a variety of learning styles.

Your comments or questions about this article are welcome, as are suggestions for future articles.  Feel free to contact me by email at

About the author:  Mr. Roger C. Ellis is an industrial engineer by training and profession.  He is a Six Sigma Master Black Belt with over 48 years of business experience in a wide range of fields.  Mr. Ellis develops and instructs Six Sigma professional certification courses for Key Performance LLC.   For a more detailed biography, please refer to