11 July, 2007

More to maths than IQ

A recent study published in Scientific America has found that intelligence, measured by IQ scores, may not be an indicator of students ability to learn maths.

The study identifies a concept called executive functioning- made up of two skills, ‘working memory’ and ‘inhibitory control’ that when combined have shown students perform better in maths results, rather than students who just have a high IQ.

Working memory is the ability to keep information or rules in mind while performing tasks, while inhibitory control is the ability to control impulses and focus on a task at hand.

It seems to us that regular chess play combines both of these skills, working memory and inhibitory control, and may in fact provide a hint to the links between maths and chess we are interested in investigating.

The notion of impulse control is also of interest to us and has application for boys in education, who often struggle to control impulses in traditional classroom environments and can present as behaviour problems.

A full abstract of the article can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Dear Harry and Steve,
I read your latest entry with interest. I wonder if you might find some authentic way of comparing IQ scores to Executive Functioning? How do you measure the skills of 'working memory' and 'inhibitory control'? This would be of great interest to all educators, especially if you could prove that regular involvement in Chess assists with these functions. I am sure that Chess is the answer!!
Leanne Preece

Harry said...

Hi Steve,
This is a brilliant blog entry. Motivation, concentration, goal setting and being a self regulated learner are the keys to tremendous opportunities. I want to ask you some questions purely in terms of developing these qualities in students. How do we as parents and teachers impart these qualities to our students and children, I mean in a formal teacher based pedagogical way, which develops regular goal setting and visualisation skills? It is a question worth asking because we need to be reflecting and experimenting with our own practice.
I think about this question in my daily practice on our project in schools. How can we impart these skills?
Here is a question we can ask ourselves when we are with our children or relatives children 'what can we do to build their concentration and goal focusing skills?'
Hindu’s use yoga and meditation. We have a good idea how to do it ourselves but do we impart to kids. If so, why do they struggle so much with it, and even into later life for the unfortunate ones?
Regards Harry

Harry said...

How can we impart these skills? If kids are given heaps of home based creative project work and are immersed in a culture of learning they are very likely to develop these skills. They see their parents engaged in mental pursuits that take patience and intelligence and the parents are MODELLING these values for them.

Steve Tobias- james cook uni said...

Hi Harry and Steve,
Is 'executive functioning' a flash concept for self motivation, or engagement?
From our work on Mastery and Performance (IQ) orientations it is clearly about students who wish to learn for understanding and maintaining control, in challenging situations with maybe a 'significant person' (teacher or tutor) for support.
I think that Vygotski's notion of scaffolding is what we have in the chess classroom. It enables students to become self reliant and powerful learners (executive functioning).
This seems to be influencing their thoughts about other studies also.


Steve Tobias