Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Faculty of Education


The effectiveness of Intelligent Profiles as a model for enabling change in the lives of six women returning to study has been explored within a comparative case study framework. Traditional approaches to counselling and assessment have been challenged because they rest on accepted ideas about knowledge that underpin the subordinate position that women occupy in our society. These approaches subtly collude with society's discriminatory views of women by failing to address issues associated with their segregation within education and the workplace. Intelligent Profiles is presented as an alternative model of counselling and assessment that enables mature-age female students to appraise their abilities and potential in ways that have not been open to them before.

Grounded in the theory of Multiple Intelligences (M.I.), the model combines a pluralist view of intelligence with an approach to counselling that is based on feminist principles. The incorporation of a narrative approach that challenges dominant social and cultural discourses has provided opportunities for questioning events and issues revealed in the stories told by the women during the counselling process. The eight distinct domains of intelligence that have been identified within M.I. theory provided the women with a framework for constructing individual profiles that mapped the relative level of development of each of the intelligences. Information for these individual profiles was drawn from the stories that each woman told. Experiences were interpreted so that the pattern of relative strengths and weaknesses that reflected each woman's intellectual profile could be constructed. Within the collaborative relationships that were established during the counselling process the women were able to assign new meanings to their experiences.

The use of open-ended and collaborative interviews provided a context in which life stories could be explored. An analysis of these stories involved identifying primary and secondary narrative representations, as well as underlying narratives. This was carried out in combination with an analysis of the content, process and structure of the stories. These approaches to interviewing and analysis were combined within the comparative case study method, allowing the voices of individual women to remain distinct whilst identifying points of convergence among the stories.

Based on this methodological approach it became evident through the women's stories that an increased sense of personal agency was acquired as they participated in the counselling process. Three intelligences emerged as being particularly important in this process: the Linguistic, Intrapersonal and Interpersonal intelligences. Through the interplay of these intelligences, each woman was enabled to construct the story of her life and her future in ways that had previously not been possible. Intelligent Profiles emerged as an effective model of change in the lives of these women.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.