26 June, 2006

SYDNEY: The Sun-Herald 25/6/06 p85

The article goes on to say:

A group of children in schools around Castlemaine are being taught chess and encouraged to provide brief comments on their thought process which produce moves.

Not only are chess-playing children being compared to their non-playing peers in areas such as numeracy, but the effect on patience and self-control within the chess-playing group might also be measured.

One observation a researcher has made in the early stages of the project is that many children are keen to play chess but regard instruction as redundant- an attitude natural for todays video game users who aquire skill solely by playing.

This attitude can only be overcome once the connection between chess success and useful advice is established- a link which will hopefully be carried over to other school subjects.

The Australian Council for Educational Research this month published an article on the project, the ambitions of which appear unlimited given the piece's sub-title 'Chess Generates Genius'.

Regardless of hyperbole, the project is certainly worthwhile since if chess is shown to be an activity which kids are happy to try and which even indirectly improves numeracy, it could become a useful tool in schools' arsenals


Tony Forster said...

I found your blog from your recent post to Artichoke. One of my favourite bloggers.

I represent the ASISTM Computer Game Design, Programming, Multimedia and Mathematics Cluster. which is a cluster of schools in three states using computer games programming for, I guess, similar hoped for outcomes as you are. I am particularly interested in your research.

'I tried the observation schedule in class. It's a bit difficult to try and cover everyone in the class in one hit. Students were curious as to what I was doing: I explained and they seemed quite at ease discussing their games with me.'
I have tried, it is hopeless. The best research would be when things are really buzzing in the class. The learning is so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife. Its also when I am run off my feet providing "just in time" advice for 16 self directed learners. Oh for the luxury of having an observer! What is your observation schedule?

"C) Explore whether chess can improve numeracy outcomes by applying statistical analysis to groups across the cluster"

How are you doing this? How did you get past the ethics committee? What about affective and metacognitive outcomes? What about problem solving skills?

Steve Tobias, you are at Latrobe Uni? Education department? Do you know Pam Wright there? She is familiar with our cluster.

I have copied to Bill Kerr because he teaches both game programming and chess

Tony Forster,
ASISTM Computer Game Design, Programming, Multimedia and Mathematics Cluster.
1405 Wellington Rd. Narre Warren East Vic 3804 Australia
Phone +61 3 9796 8161
Mobile 0403 07 3717
Email forster@ozonline.com.au

steve said...

Hi Tony,
thanks for the email.

I have included our observation schedule, that was developed by Steve Tobias from LaTrobe. It's not perfect. But it is providing us with a whole lot of data- dont know if it means anything yet though! It is based loosley around a Blooms model, but you could email him if you wanted to ask anything specific- or ask on the blog. s.tobias@latrobe.edu.au

Our program has tutors from Castlemaine Chess Club going into class and working with students usually as a whole class. They are all teacher qualified. ( Initially we were going to deliver 5 lessons, but the program is going really well so it is likely to continue.) The teacher can sit back and make observations as they know the class best. It is time consuming and the person doing it is best to focus only on that task..

The statistical analysis part: not sure if we're going to stick to this. Our cluster has $1.4million Leading Schools Funding for a music program. (Our chess program cost $5000) Part of that program has employed a mathematician to do statistical analysis to see if components of that program improves mathematical ability.

He has generously offered to assist our program as he sees it as a simple number crunching excercise. He is using PAT Maths data, and doing interviews with students to get specific areas of mathematical strenghts and weaknesses. As this research is done by classroom teachers, and not formally published we havent needed to deal with ethics committees yet. It is possible a couple of us will turn this into a Masters- at which point it becomes a different ball-game.

Did you see the article in ACER's Teacher Magazine. It's 2500 words outlining how the program developed. We are in the process of developing student journals to record and reflect on moves. There are a number of different angles we are looking at exploring including: chess as a way of engaging students with mild intellectual disabilities, engaging students with ADHD, as a tool for anger managemnt and impulse control.

It is interesting because each of the schools involved have different levels of involvemnt - some are happy to just have kids learn chess- others are excited to explore further research topics.

Initially, we were hoping the blog would allow us to develop a community of enquiry but that requires high level of computer usage which, surprisingly, not all teachers are into!!!

Anyway, we're enjoying the project and it seems to be building momentum: all on the smell of an oily rag- and a bit of old-fashioned enthusiasm.

If you're interested I can forward you the ACER article or you can find it on p52 of the June issue.


Steve Carroll

tony said...

Had a poke around the ACER website but couldnt find a June issue, can you please send article
We have been successful with the community of inquiry http://www.groups.edna.edu.au/mod/forum/view.php?id=736
You mentioned disabilities, Margaret Meijers has had success with Aspergers

Courtney said...

hi, my name is courtney. I LOVE TO PLAY CHESS! My chess teacher, Harry has told me and my class heaps of strategys to win the game. i have leanrt heaps thanks to Harry and my teacher, Mr Mac! IT'S BEEN LOTS OF FUN LEARNING!!!