Multisensory Learning Theory

Table of Content

When individuals step into the educational realm, their main objectives should revolve around student achievement and fostering a thriving environment for their students. Key factors in the establishment of an optimal environment encompass teaching methods, personal educational philosophy, and the learning theory that harmonizes these elements.

In the field of education, there are various learning theories and theorists that we encounter during our studies. These theories range from Constructivism to Multiple Intelligences to Multisensory approaches. The significance of these theories shifts over time, depending on factors such as government policies, expectations, and the specific curriculum we are implementing. Interestingly, we have observed a cyclical pattern in education where previous methods and theories eventually resurface and regain prominence.

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One of the learning theories frequently explored is the Multisensory Learning theory. Elliot Eisner has offered a practical, cross-curricular approach. As mentioned in Knowles and Cole (2008), Eisner strongly advocates for the inclusion of arts in the classroom, considering them to be invaluable. By utilizing art, students can engage their senses to experience and understand the taught concepts and skills. Consequently, the lesson gains significance and becomes memorable.

Not only are the arts important for students, but they also have a significant impact on the entire realm of education, particularly in relation to the six forms of qualitative thinking. Eisner has developed a compilation of ten lessons that the arts impart to individuals. By engaging in artistic activities, children learn to exercise good judgment (Eisner, 2005). While the curriculum may primarily emphasize finding the correct answer, the arts focus on cultivating the ability to make judgments. This type of thinking operates at an evaluative level, representing a higher level of cognitive processing according to Blooms Taxonomy.

The students are educated about the idea that problems have multiple answers, which is similar to the Math program being implemented in my district. Pearson’s Investigations is a math curriculum that empowers students to discover solutions independently. The emphasis is on the process and the students’ own thinking (metacognition), rather than just the answer. The students also gain an understanding that there are various ways to perceive their environment, known as “multiple perspectives” (Eisner, n. d.). It is not required for students to have the same perspective as their peers or teacher.

In the Arts, everyone’s individual perspectives are emphasized. Problem-solving instruction emphasizes that “purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstances and opportunities” (Eisner, n. d.). As students tackle problems, they must remain adaptable and receptive to different solutions. They come to realize that their initial expectations may not align with reality and that they may need to alter their ideas, strategies, and approaches. Constant critical thinking is essential in addressing problems or situations. Furthermore, students discover that mere words alone are insufficient for articulating their thoughts accurately.

By incorporating the arts, small differences in the problem can have a significant impact. Art helps students express what cannot be put into words, allowing feelings to be conveyed more vividly, openly, and effortlessly in the classroom. The arts in the curriculum represent what adults consider important to the young. Additionally, the arts empower students to engage in higher-level thinking and understand the world through all their senses. (Eisner, n.d.)

In a more traditional test-oriented curriculum, students may not have the opportunity to express themselves. However, the arts play a crucial role in fostering different forms of thinking, which include:

  • experiencing qualitative relationships and making judgments,
  • flexible purposing,
  • form and content is most often inextricable,
  • not everything knowable can be articulated in propositional form,
  • looking to the medium,
  • the aesthetic satisfactions that the work itself makes possible. (Eisner, 2005).

Through the combination of the six forms of thinking and the ten lessons taught by the arts, students gain a more comprehensive approach to the curriculum. They are able to look beyond the immediate problem and find solutions that go beyond simply providing the correct answer. The Multisensory theory fosters an environment that promotes qualitative thinking, encouraging students to explore different approaches and unexpected solutions as they work through problems and activities. It emphasizes the importance of focusing on the specific details rather than hidden messages. Additionally, it recognizes that students possess knowledge that goes beyond what they can verbalize, and suggests that they should be given multiple mediums to demonstrate their understanding, not just rely on words. The approach to teaching and the level of engagement and stimulation for students are key factors in how lessons are presented. Ultimately, the curriculum is designed in a way that shapes our teaching methods and influences the classroom environment as a whole (Eisner, 2005).

The multisensory theory revolutionizes the curriculum by shifting it towards a student-centered and exploratory approach. This curriculum involves engaging students and teachers in hands-on and stimulating experiences, utilizing multiple mediums to promote higher-level thinking. It fosters an environment where students can express themselves beyond verbal communication, showcasing their individualism through problem-solving. Emphasis is placed on the process of finding answers rather than solely on the answer itself.

The Multisensory theory can be integrated into any curriculum using technology and differentiated instruction. These methods provide students with stimulation that traditional curriculum and teaching methods do not offer. This has a significant impact on the curriculum. In a world that values finding the right answer, it presents a challenge. Multisensory learning may eventually fade away from traditional schools in the 21st century, but technology implementation could revive this theory.

The education industry is shifting towards a standardized approach, prioritizing test scores, student success, and uniformity among teachers and students. Nonetheless, while the curriculum becomes more standardized, there is a growing emphasis on incorporating technology. This enables students to engage with the curriculum using multiple senses, offering them unique opportunities that would be absent without technology.

Unfortunately, the focus on data, test scores, and critiquing educators has resulted in less emphasis on nurturing a child’s creativity and using all senses to teach necessary skills for success. The growing accountability and curriculum expectations have led to fewer educators incorporating personal touches, music, and arts in the classroom. As a result, there is a decrease in effort and dedication.

Many educators are leaving the profession as the change in expectations and increasing accountability is causing the multisensory learning theory to slowly dissipate. The implementation of standards in the classroom fails to address the importance of extras. Colleges now produce curriculum-bound educators who lack creativity and the ability to think on their feet. Lessons are becoming sterile and focused solely on meeting standards, neglecting the individual needs of students.

Although some experienced educators may be hesitant to integrate technology and implement differentiated instruction, the multisensory theory remains applicable. Multisensory learning offers benefits for students in diverse environments, such as the classroom and their personal lives. This approach is founded on the notion that problems can be solved and understood from various perspectives.

By incorporating the arts into the curriculum, every student, regardless of their learning preferences, will have an equal chance to succeed. Despite modern schools’ focus on a standards-based approach, we can utilize technology and personalized instruction to put this idea into practice. This concept greatly influences education as a whole – from teachers and the classroom atmosphere to students and the actual curriculum itself. It is crucial to keep in mind that as we create the curriculum, it also molds us.


  1. Dupuis, M. 2005. Multisensory Learning, retrieved on June 25, 2010 from http://instructor. aviation. ca/content/view/85/75
  2. Eisner, E. (2005). What can education learn from the arts about the practice of education? The encyclopedia of informal education retrieved on June 25, 2010 from www. infed. org/biblio/eisner_arrts_and_the_practice_of_education. htm
  3. Eisner, E (n. d. ). Ten Lessons the Arts Teach, retrieved on June 25, 2010 from www. oregonfoto. org/subroutines/eisner. html
  4. Knowles, J. G. & Cole, A (Eds. ) (2008). Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

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Multisensory Learning Theory. (2018, May 01). Retrieved from

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