Howard Gardner honored with Premier Education Research Award

Howard Gardener.

Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard file photo

3 min read

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) has announced that Howard Gardner is the winner of the 2020 Distinguished Contributions to Research in Education Award for outstanding achievement and success in education research. The honor was announced July 23, as part of AERA’s slate of 2020 awards for excellence in education research.

Gardner, the Hobbs Research Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, which suggests that human intelligence should be differentiated into modalities, rather than be accepted as a general ability.

Part of the original team of researchers at Harvard’s Project Zero when it was established by Nelson Goodman in 1967, Gardner went on to become co-director, then senior director. His research with Project Zero includes The Good Project, which promotes “excellence, engagement, and ethics in education, preparing students to become good workers and good citizens who contribute to the overall well-being of society,” and Higher Education in the 20th Century, a large-scale national study of college today.

Gardner, who is also an adjunct professor of psychology at Harvard, is the recipient of numerous other honors, including a MacArthur Prize Fellowship and a Fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 1981 and 2000, respectively. In 1990, he was the first American to receive the University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Award in Education. He earned his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

“While I am best known for developing the theory of multiple intelligences, that was basically a work of intellectual synthesis,” said Gardner. “It’s our teams’ empirical work — experimental and qualitative — over many years on the development and expression of artistic cognition, the creation of innovative forms of assessment (including the assessment of intelligences in young children), the nature of understanding and creation in and across the disciplines, the experiences and understandings of contemporary secondary school and college students, and, especially, the understanding and the pursuit of ‘good work’ that is being recognized by this award.

“My fondest hope is that, going forward, individuals the world over will draw on their profile of intelligences to carry out work that is excellent, engaging, and ethical — the intertwined virtues of good work,” Gardner added.

“This year’s award winners exemplify commitment to the study and practice of education,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine about 2020’s award recipients, including Gardner. “We are proud to honor their outstanding scholarship and service to the education research field.”

AERA will honor the recipients for their outstanding scholarship and service at a Virtual Awards Celebration, Sept. 12, 3-4:30 p.m. EDT.

Learn more about the impact of Professor Howard Gardner.