29 December 2013

'Chess in School' Is Quantifiable

In my first post on the subject of CIS, 'Chess in School' Is Multilevel, I pointed to FIDE's flagship brochure 'Chess in Schools - Our Global Future', pictured on the left. Although I have serious concerns about FIDE's approach, discussed in CIS Is Political, I will also admit that the involvement of the world chess organization is fundamental to the success of the CIS program. FIDE has automatic access to its 160++ member federations.

The last section of the FIDE brochure -- 'Bibliography' (p.46) -- is potentially the most valuable in establishing the worth of any CIS program. Keeping in mind that CIS Is Lucrative, value and worth are both required metrics to justify the cost of any specific program. Whatever CIS costs, the funds are only justified by a positive impact on school children. The last brochure section starts,

An annotated bibliography of more than 300 references and studies can be found on FIDE's Chess in Schools web site – cis.fide.com. It is, however, worth noting the best overview of the field and a few of the most important ones.

Ferguson, Robert (2006), Chess and Learning: An Annotated Bibliography was commissioned for the book of the 2001 Dallas conference, itself an important work: Chess and Education: Selected Essays from the Koltanowski Conference, University of Dallas at Texas, 2006. Ferguson provides brief notes about the contents of some 150 English language works.

The following bullets (rearranged slightly to preserve alphabetical order) are taken verbatim from the same section. They can serve as an anchor for any future look at specific studies.

  • Christiaen (1976), Christiaen,J. and Verhoftadt-Denève,L. (1981), Chess and cognitive development. Piagetian tests, internal school aptitude tests and school results used to evaluate outcome. The chess group outperformed the control group on all tests. The chess group had received one hour of chess instruction per week for 42 weeks (a year and a half).

  • Ferguson,R. (1983), Ferguson,R. (1994), Teaching the fourth "R" (Reasoning) through chess. Tests used were the Watson-Glaser CTA and the Torrance test of creative thinking. The chess group significantly outperformed not only the control group but also the computer group. Each group met once a week for 32 weeks.

  • Ferguson,R. (1986), Developing critical and creative thinking through chess. A four-year federally funded study to identify which activities would augment critical and creative thinking skills. Chess produced the greatest gains.

  • Ferguson,R. (1988), Development of Reasoning and Memory through Chess. The subtests for 'memory' and 'verbal reasoning' from the California Achievement Test were used. The chess group significantly outperformed the general population on 'memory' and marginally on 'verbal reasoning.' The chess group (complete beginners) received chess lessons two or three times a week (eight months).

  • Frank (1979), Frank,A. and D'Hondt,W. (1979), Frank,A. (1981), Aptitudes et apprentissage du jeu d'échecs au Zaire. Two psychometric tests were used for evaluation. The chess group performed better than the control group on both 'numerical aptitude' and 'verbal ability.' The chess group met two hours per week for one year.

  • Liptrap, J. (1998), Chess and standard test scores. The Texas Assessment of Academic Skills was used to evaluate the outcome of this large-scale study (567 students). The chess group showed statistically significant gains in reading and mathematics compared with the control group. Both groups improved over a two year period, but the chess group's improvement was approximately double that of the control group. The chess group participated in a school chess club for two years.

  • Margulies,S. (1992), Margulies,S. (1996), The effect of chess on reading scores. The chess group (midelementary school children in the South Bronx, New York) made significant improvements in reading scores compared with the control groups (national and school district averages). The chess group met for two years.

  • McDonald, Patrick (2006?), The Benefits of Chess in Education, A Collection of Studies and Papers on Chess and Education. A very useful compilation of more than 20 papers and a guide to further resources.

  • Moura Netto, Charles (2011), Chess that Brings Freedom. This inspirational program involves 2250 prisoners in 22 Brazilian jails.

  • Nash, Damian (2011), Making Chess Attractive to Educators in the Classroom, A New Approach To Curriculum. A curriculum model that can be used to teach higher order thinking skills directly. Chess is the primary visual metaphor but chess ability is not the end product.

  • Noir, Michel (2002), Le Développement des habiletés cognitives de l'enfant par la pratique du jeu d'échecs. Noir's doctoral thesis (University of Lyon). An important source for background, information and research in France.

  • Parr, Teresa (2011), Exploring Why Chess Works. An introduction to the 2011-2014 study “Exploring the Malleability of Executive Control” funded ($1,049,094) by the U.S. Department of Education that will test the hypothesis that chess improves performance in a broad range of academic subjects. A preliminary report is expected in the autumn of 2012.

  • Romano, Barbara (2012), Does Playing Chess Improve Math Learning? Promising (And Inexpensive) Results From Italy. Yes, it does is the conclusion, especially if the child is foreign born or living in the disadvantaged South of Italy.

  • Root, Alexey W. (2006), Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators, Teacher Ideas Press, Libraries Unlimited, Westport CT. One of the first books to show the connection between accepted educational theories and chess. It includes lesson plans teachers can use, and from which they can learn the basics of the game. Since the plans meet academic goals through chess, teachers also learn that chess can be a part of reading, mathematics, science and social studies. An appendix shows how chess meets the requirements of curriculum standards.

  • Trinchero, Roberto (2012), Chess as a cognitive training ground. Six years of trials in primary schools. This document presents the results of six years (from 2005 to 2011) of trials in primary schools of different chess training strategies and a study of the relationship between chess training and improved skills and abilities of children. The results, in line with other studies, demonstrated several benefits (see also Romano above).

I couldn't find the 'annotated bibliography of more than 300 references and studies' on cis.fide.com. The page 'Documents and FAQ' points to 'Resource and Information Center', which lists some of the papers mentioned above, plus a few others. Which are the most important for a busy person who wants an introduction to the subject? The paper 'Multiple Intelligency' by Prof.Dr.Howard Gardner is marked 'MUST TO READ!!', so that looks like a good place to start.

On top of the FIDE references, a series of presentations was made during the recent 'London Chess Classic 2013': Chess and Education London Conference - Presentations. I can already imagine the title of my next post in this series: '"Chess in School" Is a Growth Industry'.

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