Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Successful Intelligence.


Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence consists of three components; analytical, creative and practical intelligence. Analytical intelligence is often described as the IQ or general intelligence. Creative intelligence is our ability to create, to see alternative ways or our ability to “think outside the box”. Practical intelligence is just that, the knowledge that we gain through experience.

Each adult learner brings with them varying amounts of each intelligence component. Some adult learners are stronger in analytical intelligence. This will be those who are able to analyze, critique, judge compare and contrast as well as evaluate and assess. Those who are strong in creative intelligence will create, invent, discover, imagine, suppose and predict and then there are those are practical and have strong skills in applying, using, putting into practice, and implementing new skills.

As an adult learner many of us are aware of which area we are the strongest in. Key is knowing when to use our strengths and how to develop our areas of need. Sternberg (2003) refers to this as “Successful Intelligence”.

As an instructor it is important that we learn to offer a variety of the three components so as to encourage our learners as well as to enable them to develop depth in their areas of need.

Sternberg states there are four reasons that teaching for successful intelligence works.

Successful intelligence encourages:

  1. deeper and more elaborated encoding of material
  2. more diverse forms of encoding material so there are more retrieval paths to the material and a greater likelihood of recall at time of need
  3. to capitalizes on strength and to compensate for weaknesses
  4. and is more motivating to both teacher and student

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.




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