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The Use and Impact of Chess

The Use and Impact of Chess

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Published by: Declan Max Brohan on Mar 30, 2011
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I
TheUseandImpact
of
CHESS
ByDr.RobertC.Ferguson
...._,~~I
STUDIES
Ina1973-74ZairestudyconductedbyDr.AlbertFrank,employing92students,age16-18,thechess-playingexperimentalgroupshowedasignificantadvancementinspatial,numericalandadministrative-directionalabilities,alongwithverbalaptitudes,comparedtothecontrolgroup.Theimprovementsheldtrueregardlessofthefinalchessskilllevelattained.[1],[2],[7]Ina1974-1976Belgiumstudy,achess-playingexperimentalgroupoffifthgradersexperiencedastatisticallysignificantgainincognitivedevelopmentoveracontrolgroup,usingPiaget'stestsforcognitivedevelopment.Perhapsmorenoteworthy,theyalsodidsignificantlybetterintheirregularschooltesting,aswellasinstandardizedtestingadministeredbyanoutsideagencywhichdidnotknowtheidentityofthetwogroups.QuotingDr.AdriaandeGroot:"Inaddition,theBelgiumstudyappearstodemonstratethatthetreatmentoftheelementary,clear-cutandplayfulsubjectmattercanhaveapositiveeffectonmotivationandschoolachievementgenerally..."[I],[3],[7]Ina1977-1979studyattheChineseUniversityinHongKongbyDr.YeeWangFung,chessplayersshoweda15%improvementinmathandsciencetestscores.[4]Afour-yearstudy(1979-1983)inPennsylvaniafoundthatthechess-playingexperimentalgroupconsistentlyoutperformedthecontrolgroupsengagedinotherthinkingdevelopmentprograms,usingmeasurementsfromtheWatson-GlaserCriticalThinkingAppraisalandtheTorranceTestsofCreativeThinking.[1],[4],[5],[6],[7],[23]The1979-1983Venezuela"LearningtoThinkProject,"whichtrained100,000teacherstoteachthinkingskillsandinvolvedasampleof4,266secondgradestudents,reachedageneralconclusionthatchess,methodologicallytaught,isanincentivesystemsufficienttoacceleratetheincreaseofIQinelementaryagechildrenofbothsexesatallsocio-economiclevels.[1],[7],[8],[9],[10]Duringhisgovernor'steachergrantfromtheNewJerseyStateDepartmentofEducation,WilliamLevyfoundthatchessconsistently(1980-1987)promotedself-esteemafterayearofexposure.Manystudents'self-imagesimproveddramatically.[7],[11]Accordingtoatwo-yearstudyconductedinKishinevunderthesupervisionofN.F.Talisina,gradesforyoungstudentstakingpartinthechessexperimentincreasedinallsubjects.Teachersnotedimprovementin
memory,
betterorganizationalskills,andformanyincreasedfantasyandimagination(EducationMinistryoftheMoldavianRepublic,1985).[1],[7]Inhis1986pilotstudy,Dr.Fergusonfoundthatitispossibletoenhanceachievementbyfocusingonindividuals'modalitystrengths,creatinganindividualizedthinkingplan,analyzingandreflectinguponone'sownproblemsolvingprocesses,sharinghislherthinkingsystemwithpeers,andmodifyingthesystemtointegrateothermodalities.[I],[7],[12]Duringthe1987-88"DevelopmentofReasoningandMemorythroughChess,"allstudentsinaruralPennsylvaniasixthgradeself-containedclassroomwererequiredtoparticipateinchesslessonsandplaygames.Noneofthepupilshadpreviouslyplayedchess.Thepupilssignificantlyimprovedinbothmemoryandverbalreasoning.Theeffectofthemagnitudeoftheresultsisstrong
(eta2
is.715fortheMemorytestgaincomparedtotheNorm).Theseresultssuggestthattransferoftheskillsfosteredthroughthechesscurriculumdidoccur.[1],[7],[13]SECTIONBUSAJuniorChessOlymicsCurriculumPae3
 
.
__
TEACHER'SGliDE:RESEARCHANDBENEEITS
A1989-92NewBrunswick,Canadastudy,using437fifthgraderssplitintothreegroups,experimentingwiththeadditionofchesstothemathcurriculum,foundincreasedgainsinmathproblem-solvingandcomprehensionproportionatetotheamountofchessinthecurriculum.[14]A1990-92studyusingasub-setoftheNewYorkCitySchoolsChessProgramproducedstatisticallysignificantresultsconcludingthatchessparticipationenhancesreadingperformance.[15],[16],[23]"PlayingChess:AStudyofProblem-SolvingSkillsinStudentswithAverageandAboveAverageIntelligence,"astudybyPhilipRifner,wasconductedduringthe1991-1992schoolterm.Thestudysoughttodeterminewhethermiddleschoolstudentswholearnedgeneralproblemsolvingskillsinonedomaincouldapplytheminadifferentdomain.Dataindicatedthatinter-domaintransfercanbeachievedifteachingfortransferisaninstructionalgoal.[17]Duringthe1995-1996schoolyear,twoclassroomswereselectedineachoffiveschools.Students
(N
=
112)weregiveninstructioninchessandreasoninginoneclassroomineachschool.Pupilsinthechessprogramobtainedsignificantlyhigherreadingscoresattheendoftheyear.Itshouldbenotedthatwhilestudentsinthechessgrouptookchesslessons,thecontrolgroup
(N
=
127)hadadditionalclassroominstructioninbasiceducation.Thecontrolgroupteacherwasfreetousethe"chessperiod"anywayhe/shewanted,buttheperiodwasusuallyusedforreading,mathorsocialstudiesinstruction.Thecontrolgroupsthushadmorereadinginstructionthanthechessgroups.Evenso,thechessgroupsdidbetteronthereadingpost-test;therefore,thegainsinthechessgroupswereparticularlyimpressive.[18]Ina1994-97Texasstudy,regular(non-honors)elementarystudentswhoparticipatedinaschoolchessclubshowedtwicetheimprovementofnon-chessplayersinReadingandMathematicsbetweenthirdandfifthgradesontheTexasAssessmentofAcademicSkills.[19],[20]Researchersandeducatorshavequestionedwhatcausesthisgrowth.TheVenezuelanstudyclaimed:"Chessdevelopsanewformofthinking,andthisexerciseiswhatcontributestoincreasetheintelligencequotient."[10]Morerecentresearchersspeculatethatitisthegrowthofnewsynapticconnections.Chesspromotesthegrowthofdendrites!Whydoeschesshavethisimpact?Briefly,thereappeartobeatleastsevensignificantfactors:1)Chessaccommodatesallmodalitystrengths.2)Chessprovidesafargreaterquantityofproblemsforpractice.3)Chessoffersimmediatepunishmentsandrewardsforproblemsolving.4)Chesscreatesapatternorthinkingsystemthat,whenusedfaithfully,breedssuccess.Thechessplayingstudentshadbecomeaccustomedtolookingformoreanddifferentalternatives,whichresultedinhigherscoresinfluencyandoriginality.5)Competition.Competitionfostersinterest,promotesmentalalertness,challengesallstudents,andelicitsthehighestlevelsofachievement(Stephan,1988).6)Alearningenvironmentorganizedaroundgameshasapositiveaffectonstudents'attitudestowardlearning.Thisaffectivedimensionactsasafacilitatorofcognitiveachievement(Allen
&
Main,1976).[21]Instructionalgamingisoneofthemostmotivationaltoolsinthegoodteacher'srepertoire.Childrenlovegames.Chessmotivatesthemtobecomewillingproblemsolversandspendhoursquietlyimmersedinlogicalthinking.Thesesameyoungpeopleoftencannotsitstillforfifteenminutesinthetraditionalclassroom.7)Chesssuppliesavarietyand
quality
ofproblems.AsLangen(1992)states:"Theproblemsthatariseinthe70-90positionsoftheaveragechessgameare,moreover,new.Contextsarefamiliar,themesrepeat,butgamepositionsneverdo.Thismakeschessgoodgristfortheproblem-solvingmilL"SECTIONBUSAJuniorChess
01
micsCurriculumPae4
 
TEACHER'SGUIDE:RESEARCHANDBENEFITS
FACTS
Chessispartofthecurriculainnearly30countries.InVenezuela,Iceland,Russiaandothercountries,chessisasubjectinallpublicschools.[8]InVancouver,BC,theMathandChessLearningCenter,recognizingthecorrelationbetweenchessplayingandmathskillsdevelopment,hasdevelopedaseriesofworkbookstoassistCanadianstudentsinmath.[42]InHarrietGeithmann'sarticle"Strobeck,HomeofChess,"TheNationalGeographicMagazine,May1931,pp.637-652,wefindthatthismedievalvillageintheHarzMountainsofGermanyhastaughttheroyalgameinitspublicschoolsforyears.ChessbeganinStrobeckin1011.[37]In"ChessmenCometoLifeinMarostica,"TheNationalGeographicMagazine,November1956,byAlexanderTaylor,pp.658-668,weseeanItaliantownrevivingaromanticlegendoftheMiddleAges,inwhichsuitorsplayedchessforthehandofaladyfair.[43]ThemathematicscurriculuminNewBrunswick,Canadaisatextseriescalled
ChallengingMathematics,
whichuseschesstoteachlogicandproblemsolvingfromgrades2to7.Usingthiscurriculum,theaverageproblem-solvingscoreofpupilsintheprovinceincreasedfrom62%to81%.TheProvinceofQuebec,wheretheprogramwasfirstintroduced,hasthehighestmathgradesinCanada,andCanadascoresbetterthantheUSAoninternationalmathematicsexams.[19],[20],[40]FormerU.S.SecretaryofEducationTerrellBellencouragedknowledgeofchessasawaytodevelopapreschooler'sintellectandacademicreadiness.[39]TheStateofNewJerseypassedabilllegitimizingchessasaunitofinstructionwithintheelementaryschoolcurriculum.OnDecember17,1992,NewJerseyGovernorJimFloriosignedintolawabilltoestablishchessinstructioninpublicschools.Aquotefromthebillstates"Incountrieswherechessisofferedwidelyinschools,studentsexhibitexcellenceintheabilitytorecognizecomplexpatternsandconsequentlyexcelinmathandscience..."[41]Fundingforchessactivityisavailableunderthe"EducateAmericaAct"(Goals2000),PublicLaw103-227,Section308.b.2.E.:"Supportinginnovativeandprovenmethodsofenhancingateacher'sabilitytoidentifystudentlearningneedsandmotivatingstudentstodevelophigherorderthinkingskills,discipline,andcreativeresolutionmethods."Theoriginalwordingofthissectionincluded"suchaschess"andpassedSenatethatway,butthephrasewasdeletedlaterinConferenceCommittee.[19]
ANECDOTAL
Severalarticlesdiscusschessasatooltoassistchildrenofalllevels.Dr.Stefurak,acognitiveneuropsychologist,statedthat"...chessinstructioninformsthemindandtheemotionsinsuchawayastostructureanemergentmentalcircuitwheremotivationandabilitymultiplytoproduceachievementinchessandschoolandlife.[23]InDecember1996,ArmanTajarobiwrote:"Forthepastthreeyears,I'vebeenawitnesstoanexperimentheldin24elementaryschoolsinmytown:Theschoolboardallowedtheseschoolstoreplaceanhourofmathclassesbyachesscourseeachweekforhalfoftheirstudents.Forthreeconsecutiveyears,thegroupswhoreceivedthechessformationhavehadbetterresultsinmathsthanthosewhodidnot.Thisyear(thefourthyear),theschoolboardhasallowedanyschoolthatwantstoprovideitsstudentswithachessformationtodoso."[35]
SECTIONB
USA
Junior
Chess
01m
ics
CurriculumPa
e5

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