February 10, 2019 – Independent researchers from Tennessee Tech University and the University of Alabama have released findings based on three years of data from the Alabama Chess in Schools (ACIS) program. The study is believed to be the largest of its kind in the United States to assess the benefits of a teacher-driven chess in education program.

Excerpts from the full report:

1) Summary of Findings Related to Students’ Critical Thinking Skill Development

For the Induction and Deduction constructs, students exposed to the chess intervention had noticeably higher scores than the control group students, in the lower grade levels in particular (4-6). Chess instruction did not appear to have much of an impact on induction or deduction skills for students in grades 7 and 8. These data imply that chess instruction might affect these skills in earlier grade levels. Similarly, for the combined construct —Observation and Credibility—students who received chess instruction benefited in the lower grades more than the higher grades. Students in grades 7-10 scored either less than or not differently from the control group on their observation and credibility skills.

There were no differences in Assumptions skills between the intervention and control groups across the board. The largest difference in Assumptions scores between the intervention and control group was in tenth grade in Year 2, which might imply that this is a more advanced skill that chess instruction could bring about in older students.

Overall post-test scores maintained the same patterns as the sub construct categories; students who received the chess instruction had higher scores than the control group in most of the lower grades, and not so much in higher grades.

2) Summary of Findings Related to 21st Century Skills

Overall, teachers in the intervention groups evaluated their students’ 21st Century Skills with higher scores than students in the control groups in the eight skill areas. In Year 1, first and fifth grade students exposed to the chess intervention scored higher than the control group students did in almost every skill area, though fourth grade chess students typically scored a little lower than the control group students in most of the skill areas. In Year 2, the results varied across grade levels without many consistent patterns. However, in Year 3, when compared to the control groups, the intervention students had higher averages in every grade level included in the analysis for the following skills: Affective Decision & Judgment Processes, Systems Thinking, Cross-Disciplinary Thinking, and Overall Engagement.

3) Summary of Findings Related to Teachers’ Perceptions

Teachers expressed that they felt the use of chess greatly benefits students, and though challenging, it was worth the extra time it took to implement chess in instruction and in the students’ school day in general. Teachers reported large gains in their perceptions of students’ abilities across a variety of cognitive and social abilities. Not only did chess appear to benefit the students, but it also seemed to help the teachers. They shared that their classes flowed more smoothly and that students were more receptive to their pedagogy. Though we were not
aware of any other chess tools teachers may have used, ChessKid.com appeared to be a preferred way for teachers to implement chess into their lessons, with only a small number of teachers (7%) indicating a preference for not utilizing this website. Overall, these factors indicate chess as an instructional strategy provided a positive and meaningful education experience for students and teachers.

4) Summary of Findings Related to Students’ Perceptions

The findings in this section of the report pointed to a similar trend across all grade levels as well as between genders. Of the 1,286 chess playing student respondents, not only did they enjoy playing chess at school, but many of them also played outside of class time or outside of school.
A majority of the students had a positive view of their abilities to play the game. Both grade level groups had a positive view of chess. In addition, students in both grade categories reported that their school work had improved since they started playing chess, including an increase in their abilities to complete difficult assignments and work harder on school work.

Click on the following link to get the full report:

Teaching with Chess: Exploring the Relationship between Chess and Student Learning Outcomes
ACIS Years 1-3 Report 1