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Chess Studies

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In a Texas study, regular (non-honors) elementary students who participated in a school chess club showed twice the improvement of non-chessplayers in Reading and Mathematics between third and fifth grades on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. (P)

A New Brunswick, Canada, study, using 437 fifth graders split into three groups, experimenting with the addition of chess to the math curriculum, found increased gains in math problem-solving and comprehension proportionate to the amount of chess in the curriculum. (J)

In a Belgium study a chess-playing experimental group of fifth graders experienced a statistically significant gain in cognitive development over a control group, using Piaget's tests for cognitive development. Perhaps more noteworthy, they also did significantly better in their regular school testing, as well as in standardized testing administered by an outside agency which did not know the identity of the two groups. Quoting Dr. Adriaan de Groot: "In addition, the Belgium study appears to demonstrate that the treatment of the elementary, clearcut and playful subject matter can have a positive effect on motivation and school achievement generally..."(C)

A four-year USA study, though not deemed statistically stable due to a small (15 students) experimental group, has the chess-playing experimental group consistently outperforming the control groups engaged in other thinking development programs, using measurements from the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. (D)

The Venezuela "Learning to Think Project", which trained 100,000 teachers to teach thinking skills, and which involved a sample of 4,266 second grade students, reached a general conclusion that chess, methodologically taught, is an incentive system suffficient to accelerate the increase of IQ in elementary age children of both sexes at all socio-economic levels. (B)

A study using a sub-set of the New York City Schools Chess Program produced statistically significant results concluding that chess participation enhances reading performance. A related study, conducted in five U.S. cities over two years, selected two classrooms in each of five schools. The group receiving instruction in chess and logic obtained significantly higher reading scores than the control groups, which received additional classroom instruction in basic education (reading, math or social studies). (G) (R)

Anecdotal
Several articles discuss chess as a tool to assist special needs kids. Rob Roy of Connecticut: "Children with special problems can also learn chess. I taught a successful course for emotionally and educationally disadvantaged children in the Waterbury schools and used chess as a way for them to learn and practice self-control. It was like turning on switches in their heads. You see the child looking at a problem, breaking it down, then putting the whole thing back together. The process involves recall, analysis, judgment and abstract reasoning." Andrew Rozsa, psychologist, speaking of his gifted son: "He has had real social and behavioral difficulties since he was 18 months old... He was thrown out of several schools... Things became pretty bad at about age 9 1/2. Nothing seemed to work, nothing. ... Today he is a straight A student and his behavior problems are minimal (but not trivial). ... Sorry, no control subjects, no double blind, no defined independent variables (actually there are two: chess and age). Nonetheless, I think that the great improvements we have seen are, to a large extent, due to chess." (M) (S)

The article "Chess Improves Academic Performance" features a number of testimonies from school principals, including: "Not only have the reading and math skills of these children soared, their ability to socialize has increased substantially, too. Our studies have shown that incidents of suspension and outside altercations have decreased by at least 60% since these children became interested in chess." "It's the finest thing that ever happened to this school. ...chess makes a difference...what it has done for these children is simply beyond anything that I can describe." "I see (students) able to attend to something for more than an hour and a half. I am stunned. Some of them could not attend to things for more than 20 minutes." etc. (I)

The New York City Schools Chess Program included more than 3,000 inner-city children in more than 100 public schools between 1986 and 1990. Based on academic and anecdotal records only, Christine Palm writes that the Program has proven that: --Chess dramatically improves a child's ability to think rationally --Chess increases cognitive skills --Chess improves children's communication skills and aptitude in recognizing patterns, therefore: --Chess results in higher grades, especially in English and Math studies --Chess builds a sense of team spirit while emphasizing the ability of the individual --Chess teaches the value of hard work, concentration and commitment --Chess instills in young players a sense of self-confidence and self-worth --Chess makes a child realize that he or she is responsible for his or her own actions and must accept their consequences --Chess teaches children to try their best to win, while accepting defeat with grace --Chess provides an intellectual, competitive forum through which children can assert hostility, i.e. "let off steam," in an acceptable way --Chess can become a child's most eagerly awaited school activity, dramatically improving attendance --Chess allows girls to compete with boys on a non-threatening, socially acceptable plane --Chess helps children make friends more easily because it provides an easy, safe forum for gathering and discussion --Chess allows students and teachers to view each other in a more sympathetic way --Chess, through competition, gives kids a palpable sign of their accomplishments --Chess provides children with a concrete, inexpensive and compelling way to rise above the deprivation and self-doubt which are so much a part of their lives (B)

John Artise (B.S., M.A.) draws upon his years of psychological research in chess to identify the contribution chess makes in education and learning. He identifies four areas of growth: memory improvement, logic, observation and analysis, and operant conditioning. (K)

A two year program conducted in the Republic of Kichinov observed improvement in memory and better organizational skills. (B)

Chess program funded by Oakland (California) Youth at Risk program proves to be an effective vehicle for saving troubled youth. (A)

Chess program in the troubled East Harlem district, New York, also rescues kids from drugs and gangs. (N)

Saratoga Springs editorial: "Chess is the last best hope for this country to rescue its skidding educational system and teach the young generation the forgotten art of nurturing an attention span." (O)

(A) San Jose Mercury News, 4-3-96.
(B) "Chess in Education Research Summary", Dr. Robert Ferguson.
(C) "Chess and Cognitive Development", 1974-76, Johan Christiaen, quoted in (B).
(D) "Developing Critical and Creative Thinking Through Chess", 1979-83, Dr. Robert Ferguson, quoted in (B).
(E) Quoting Linder, in (B).
(F) http://www3.bc.sympatico.ca/mathchess/
(G) "The Effect of Chess on Reading Scores: District Nine Chess Program Second Year Report" Dr. Stuart Margulies Ph.D.
(H) "Your Child's Intellect", Terrell Bell, 1982, pp.178-179.
(I) "Chess Improves Academic Performance" Christine Palm, 1990.
(J) Etude Comparative sur les Apprentissages en Mathematiques 5e Annee, Louise Gaudreau, 1992, quoted in (B).
(K) "Chess and Education", John Artise.
(L) "Chess Legislation", Rosalyn B. Katz.
(M) "Check Mates", Fairfield County Advocate, Mar. 20, 1989.
(N) "From Street Kids to Royal Knights", Jo Coudert, Readers Digest, June 1989.
(O) "Editorial: Chess give hope for our youth", The Saratogian, March 12, 1991.
(P) "Chess and Standard Test Scores", James M. Liptrap, in Chess Life, March 1998.
(Q) Chess'n Math Association, Canada's National Scholastic Chess Organization, web page.
(R) Chess-in-the-Schools web page.
(S) Newsgroup email from Andrew J. Rozsa, Birmingham, Alabama. 

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