Details of Thesis

Title Intrapersonal Intelligence, Executive Function and Stage Three Students
Author Sellars, Maura
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2010
Abstract This study investigated the capacities of ten to twelve year old students to develop the cognitive capacity of intrapersonal intelligence as defined by Howard Gardner. A group of forty, ten to twelve year old students across three Stage Three New South Wales classrooms were introduced to an Intervention Program specifically designed to foster their self knowledge as learners and their capacities to use this knowledge to develop the knowledge, skills and understandings collectively known as ‘executive function’. The Intervention Program incorporated the theoretical foundations of the Multiple Intelligences perspective of executive function as defined by Moran and Gardner. The students were engaged in self selected learning tasks in the key learning area of English with the intention of helping them to identify their own relative strengths and relative limitations in this curriculum area. The program included a variety of activities and procedures including those that required students to determine their own learning goals, engage in reflective journaling both during the tasks and at the conclusion of the tasks and identify, plan and implement their own learning strategies in order to achieve their learning goals in English. The three participating teachers undertook to provide information related to the students’ work habits, on task behaviors, self monitoring strategies, the students’ capacities to improve their cognitive strategies when working on their self selected tasks and the students’ abilities to use these skills, knowledge and understandings to improve their learning outcomes in English. The results obtained evidenced a considerable improvement in the students’ intrapersonal intelligence, most especially in the knowledge, skills and understandings identified as ‘executive function’. The students became increasingly competent in the skills of planning, implementing and self monitoring; identified by Moran and Gardner as the ‘hill’ the ‘will’ and the ‘skill’; in relation to their self selected learning goals in English and began to take increased responsibility for their own learning in English. In this way, they began to exhibit the distinct characteristics of the ‘apprentice stage’ of ‘executive function’ as described by Moran and Gardner. As the result of the findings of this study, there are clear implications that if students are provided with opportunities to develop their intrapersonal intelligence as learners, this improved awareness of ‘self’ as learners can be translated into improved skills in the understandings, knowledge and skills that comprise ‘executive function’ from a Multiple Intelligences perspective and result in improved learning outcomes. This study indicates that if teachers are able to provide students with the opportunities to know themselves better as learners, have some choice in determining the tasks that best suit their learning preferences and determine their own learning strategies, then the impact on students’ capacities to ‘learn how to learn’ effectively is positive. The findings of the study also indicate that programs designed to support student learning through improved intrapersonal intelligence also supports teachers’ attempts to implement differentiated programs of work effectively in their classrooms and to meet the learning needs of all their students in the context of a rapidly changing twenty first century world and its ever increasing demands on the teaching profession. As a result, programs such as the one designed and implemented in this study may become a valuable part of school practice and curricula.
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