06 April 2014

'Chess in School' : Three Studies

Have you ever looked for something that you just had, like a pencil, only to find that it was still in your hand? That's how I felt after the previous post, 'Chess in School' : Why? I ended it saying:-

I'm ready to tackle the Ferguson++ material again. I expect him, as well as the other proponents of chess education, to explain why chess belongs in school, competing for the same limited resources that we use to teach our children what we teach them.

The post before that, 'Chess in School' : Robert Ferguson, contained one important key to the kingdom:-

The second PDF is Educational Benefits of Chess Summary Based on Research and Articles, 179 pages, also undated, but the mention of 'current world champion Kramnik' indicates the early 2000s.

When I sat down to study it, I realized that it was exactly what I was looking for. It describes three studies ('two research projects and one pilot study') that Ferguson conducted into -- drum roll -- the educational benefits of chess. The 179 pages of academic prose lack a table of contents and are so daunting that I used one of my favorite techniques when tackling new material: I analyzed the structure of the document. To aid anyone else who might be interested in studying the document, I've attached that analysis to the end of this post. The three studies that were Ferguson's own research are reviewed in chapter four.

Ferguson summarized the document at the end of the first chapter (p.21).

Chapter one has introduced the problem, the purpose of the research, the importance of the study, and provided some of the current thinking on chess in education. The following chapter will present a review of related literature. The third chapter will offer methodology, including research design, tests, classroom procedures, course objectives, lesson plans, curricula, data collection, and limitations. In chapter four, I will submit the findings and interpret them. Finally, in the fifth chapter, I will briefly review the Bradford Area School District chess studies, share conclusions, and make recommendations.

Although the document is about the benefits of chess in education, there is much that is pure chess. 'Basic Chess Skills' (p.70) lists over 30 chess concepts that students were expected to grasp, starting with piece movement. 'Related Literature' includes a paragraph on chess titles that cover the subject (p.24).

There are several manuscripts related to chess theory that are worth reviewing. In the volume Think Like a Grandmaster, by Kotov, the complex thinking that takes place in a grandmaster’s mind is described. Euwe’s book, Judgment and Planning in Chess, demonstrates the way to improvement by showing the reader how to think, how to judge a position, and how to make a plan. In Chess Psychology, by Nikolai Krogius, various thinking methods in chess were discussed. Dr. Emanuel Lasker presented a lucid description of the three basic methods of chess thinking in Lasker’s Manual of Chess. Pfleger and Treppner’s Chess: The Mechanics of the Mind pinpoints key situations where the amateur’s thought processes are inferior and seeks to help him overcome specific mental barriers. The Psychology of Chess by Hartston and Wason explore essential thought patterns of masters. In How Chessmasters Think, Paul Schmidt demonstrates the thought processes a chessmaster uses to analyze the strengths and weaknesses in a position and how he decides upon a course of action. Chernev and Reinfeld’s book, Winning Chess, is a hands-on, learn-by-doing book that teaches tactical thinking skills.

One section that is missing from the PDF is a list of references, of which there are many. Perhaps I'll find one as I continue to study this most important document.


Educational Benefits of Chess Summary Based on Research and Articles by Dr. Robert Ferguson; structure of contents.

001 Chapter I. The Problem

001 Introduction
001 Background of the Program
006 Statement of the Problem
006 Purpose of the Studies
007 Importance of the Studies
009 Questions to be Answered
012 Statement of Hypotheses
013 Postulates
014 Delineation of the Research Problem
015 Scope and Delimitations of the Studies
017 Definition of Terms
021 Summary and What is to Follow

023 Chapter II. Review of Related Literature

023 Lists the sources searched.
025 Offers general background information along with a discussion of historical and philosophical development of reflective thinking.
033 Presents research related to my studies.
057 Reviews literature on the formal instruments used in these studies.
062 Summarizes chapter and offers a cursory glance at this book’s intent.

065 Chapter III. Methodology or Procedures

065 Reviews the research design for each of the three studies.
066 Explains the selection of the subjects in the investigations.
067 Discusses the instruments used in each of the studies.
068 Presents classroom procedures, including daily lessons, course objectives, methods, materials, and evaluation procedures.
097 Deals with data collection.
099 Examines the statistical tests and procedures employed to analyze the data collected.
100 Lists limitations for each of the three studies.
102 Summarizes the contents of the third chapter.

104 Chapter IV. Findings

To reduce confusion, I am including a discussion section specific to the experiment being reviewed at the end of the division for each of the studies.
104 Reviews the federally funded ESEA Title IV-C project (Study I).
136 Examines the Tri-State Area School Study Council pilot study (Study II).
141 Analyzes the research sponsored by the USA Junior Chess Olympics.
150 Summarizes the findings of all three studies and highlights my interpretation of the results

154 Chapter V. Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations

154 Summarizes everything covered in the first three chapters.
159 Reviews findings for Study I.
167 Summarizes Study II.
171 Examines Study III.
176 Discusses conclusions of this research.
177 Makes recommendations for implementation of the findings.

The numbers in the left column are page numbers in the document.

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