# A link between chess and math?

A link between chess and math? by Bo S. Johansson Aims: Evaluate effects of primary school chess teaching Analyse relationships between chess arithmetic skills

METHOD Quasi-experimental design Year 1: One Grade 1 and one Grade 2 pair recruited Year 2: One Grade 1 pair recruited Year 3: One Grade 1 pair recruited Pretest in autumn year 1, 2 and 3 and posttests at the end of each of the three academic years Design

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 _______________________________________ Gr1&2 Pr Po Po Po Gr1 Pr Po Po Gr1

Pr Po Pr=Pretest Po=Post-test Subjects and attrition Four intervention and four control classrooms with a total of 89 intervention and 89 control students Low rate of attrition (13 students) Tests

Tests of reading and visuospatial IQ One numeral writing test: Write the digits 0 to 9, Write the number one hundred and five in digits Two number series tests: one forward and one backward jump test Two subtraction tests: one mental calculation test and one calculation with aids (paper and pen or counters) Chess: Test of chess skill and questionnaire on chess activities Individual interviews on subtraction solution procedures

RESULTS 1. Pre- to post-test changes Separate analyses of covariance for the classroom pairs participating one year, two years and three years Strong and increasing intervention-control differences in chess results (T 1, p 7) No effects on the reading, visuospatial and arithmetic tests (T 1, p 7)

2. Psychometric analyses: Correlations between chess and the seven tests by year and experimental/control No effects for reading and visuospatial IQ Arithmetic tests in control classrooms: Increasing correlations from pretest to year 1 then decreasing correlations (T 2, p 8) Arithmetic tests in intervention classrooms: Increasing correlations by year (T 2, p 8) 3. Analyses of subgroups within classrooms

The students in each classroom were subdivided into (6) high-score chess students and the remaining students low-score Analyses of variance were run on: pretest result and post-test results for those participating one year in project, two years in project and three years in project. Two independent variables: high vs low-score students and experimental vs control groups Results of analyses of variance

Chess: High-score better than low-score; experim. students score higher than control; significant interaction at final posttest (T 3, p 10) Reading and visuospatial IQ: no effects Arithmetic tests: no differences at pretest; highscore students score higher than low-score at all posttests for almost all five tests; no interaction between High/Low score students and Experim./ Control classrooms 4. Reanalysis of arithmetic tests The results on the final posttest for the two

arithmetic tests were collapsed and the problems subdivided into an easy and difficult category Separate t-tests were run within each classroom between the high- and low- score students. The high-score students in two experimental and one control classroom solved a greater number of difficult problems than the low-score students (T 4, p 11) 5. Analysis of chess test results at final posttest

Categorizations: 21 items in the total test 6 tested Facts (notations for chessboard squares, rules for piece movements); 6 were Simple problems (Mate in one); 9 were Advanced problems (Find a good move for white & Mate in two). Chess test results The high-score experimental students entering the project as a Grade 2 classroom were outstanding on

Advanced problems (T 5, p 5) The control students solved almost none of the Advanced problems In the control classrooms the high-score control students were outstanding on the Simple problems Performance increased from pretest to year 1 and then levelled off for the control and for the experimental low-score students 6. Chess questionnaire Given final autumn to Grade 2, 3 and 4

Questions on: In-school informal chess activities After-school informal chess activities Chess club membership and play in chess club Participation in tournaments

Questionnaire results The Grade 2 high-score students very active The Grade 2 low score students inactive Much smaller differences between low- and high-score students in (Grade 2 and 3) the Grade 1 classrooms entering the project the first and second year (T 6, p 14) Does this indicate a split between the high- and lowscore students in the classroom entering the project as a Grade 2?

Psychological analysis The results suggest that a link is formed between chess and arithmetic when level of skills has reached certain thresholds For arithmetic: the child should master the mental number sequence For chess: the child should be able so solve Simple problems (Adv. Problems level 2?) The link: the ability to immediately perceive meaningful relationships

Didactic analysis Chess: splits should be monitored and counteracted. Goal: to be able to solve Simple problems Arithmetic: Stronger emphasis on the formation of the mental number sequence by practicing number series and numeral writing tasks and Practicing the jump method solution procedure

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