are taking, little verbal skill is necessary (or helpful) for successful performance on such a task.
Whereas most standard approaches treat intelligence in isolation from the activities of a particular culture, MI theory takes a sharply contrasting tack. Intelligences are always conceptualized and assessed in terms of their cultural manifestation in specific domains of endeavor and with reference to particular adult "end states." Thus, even at
the preschool level, language capacity is not assessed in terms of vocabulary, definitions, or similarities, but rather as manifest in story telling (the novelist) and reporting (the journalist). Instead of attempting to assess spatial skills in isolation, we observe children as they are drawing (the artist) or taking apart and putting together
objects (the mechanic).
Ideally, one might wish.to assess an intelligence in a culture-independent way, but this goal has proved to be elusive and perhaps impossible to achieve. Cross-cultural research and studies of cognition in the course of ordinary activities have demonstrated that performances are inevitably
dependent on a person's familiarity and experience with the materials and demands of the assessments. In our own work, it rapidly became clear that meaningful assessment of an intelligence was not possible if students
had little or no experience with a particular subject matter or type of material. For example, our examination of bodily-kinesthetic abilities in a movement assessment for preschoolers was confounded by the fact that some four-year-olds had already been to ballet classes, whereas others had never been asked to move their bodies
expressively or in rhythm. This recognition reinforced the notion that bodily-kinesthetic intelligence cannot be assessed outside of a specific medium or without reference to a history of prior experiences.
Together, these demands for assessments that are intelligence fair, are based on culturally valued activities, and take place within a familiar context naturally lead to an approach that blurs the distinctions between curriculum and assessment. Drawing information from the regular curriculum ensures that the activities are familiar;
introducing activities in a wide range of areas makes it possible to challenge and examine each intelligence in an appropriate manner. Tying the activities to inviting pursuits enables students to discover and develop abilities that in turn increase their chances of experiencing a sense of engagement and of achieving some success in their society.
Putting Theory into Practice
In the past five years, this approach to assessment has been explored in projects at several different levels of schooling. At the junior and senior high school level, Arts PROPEL, a collaborative project with the Educational Testing Service and the Pittsburgh Public School System, seeks to assess growth and learning in areas like music, imaginative writing, and visual arts, which are neglected by most standard
measures .Arts PROPEL has developed a series of modules, or "domain
projects," that serve the goals of both curriculum and assessment. These projects feature sets of exercises and curriculum activities organized around a concept central to a specific artistic domainsuch as notation in music, character and dialogue in play writing, and graphic composition in the visual arts. The drafts, sketches, and final products generated by these and other curriculum activities are collected in portfolios
(sometimes termed "process-folios"), which serve as a basis for assessment of growth by both the teacher and the student. Although the emphasis thus far has fallen on local classroom assessments, efforts are also under way to develop criteria whereby student accomplishment can be evaluated by external examiners.
At the elementary level, Patricia Bolanos and her colleagues have used MI theory to design an entire public school in downtown Indianapolis . Through a variety of special classes (e.g., computing, bodily/kinesthetic activities) and enrichment activities (a "flow" center and apprentice-like "pods"), all children in the Key School are given the opportunity to discover their areas of strength and to develop the full range of intelligences. In addition, over the course of a year, each
child executes a number of projects based on schoolwide themes, such as "Man and His Environment" or "Changes in Time and Space." These projects are presented and videotaped for subsequent study and analysis. A team of researchers from Harvard Project Zero is now engaged in developing a set of criteria whereby these videotaped projects can be assessed. Among the dimensions under consideration are project
conceptualization, effectiveness of presentation, technical quality of project, and originality, as well as evidence for cooperative efforts and distinctive individual features.
A third effort, Project Spectrum, co-directed by David Feldman of Tufts University, has developed a number of curriculum activities and assessment options suited to the "child-centered" structure of many preschools and kindergartens .
At present, there are fifteen different activities, each of which taps a
particular intelligence or set of intelligences. Throughout the year, a Spectrum classroom is equipped with "intelligence-fair" materials. Miniature replicas and props invite children to deploy linguistic intelligence within the context of story telling; household objects that children can take apart and reassemble challenge children's
spatial intelligence in a mechanical task; a "discovery" area including natural objects like rocks, bones, and shells enables children to use their logical abilities to conduct small "experiments," comparisons, and classifications; and group activities such as a biweekly creative movementsession can be employed to give children the
opportunity to exercise their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence on a regular basis.
Provision of this variety of "high-affordance" materials allows children to gain experiences that engage their several intelligences, even as teachers have the chance unobtrusively to observe and assess children's strengths, interests, and proclivities.
More formal assessment of intelligences is also possible. Researchers can administer specific games to children and apply detailed scoring systems that have been developed for research purposes. For instance, in the bus game, children's ability to organize numerical information is scored by noting the extent to which they can keep track of the number of adults and children getting on and off a bus. Adults and children and on and off constitute two different dimensions. Thus, a child can receive
one of the following scores:
One dimensions recorded;
1.disorganized recording of one dimension (either adults and children or on and off);
2.labeled, accurate recording of one dimension;