There is a general belief that students who learn to play chess will do better in academic content areas, such as math and science. While many students join chess clubs for competitive and tournament play, we are beginning to learn more about whether participation leads to more than knowledge and enjoyment of the game. For the last three years, we’ve partnered with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, the preeminent chess club in the United States, to support their mission to raise awareness of the educational value of chess.
We conducted a systematic review of chess studies (available in the Chess Club’s research portal) and found that learning to play chess can lead to improvements in student math and cognitive performance. Now, we are collaborating with the Chess Club and schools in the St. Louis area to understand how best to design a chess program that engages kids in the game and promotes academic perseverance and learning strategies to improve academic and social outcomes. Through this partnership, we are helping the Chess Club plan and conduct rigorous studies of chess programming and promoting new research on chess by tracking and disseminating studies from across the globe in regular blog posts. We also presented on the use of chess in a high quality charter school network at the 2016 National Charter Schools Conference.