Category Archives: Teacher traniing

Post-Graduate Course on Scholastic Chess

What is research telling us about the benefits and the best ways of teaching chess? How can chess help to improve learning motivation and develop a growth mindset in your students? Which mini games, chess variants and puzzles can you apply to promote mathematical and logical skills? How can you effectively raise metacognition through chess? These are core themes of the Summer School „Chess in Primary Education“ to be held on 2-6 July 2018 at the University Girona in Spain.

The first ever international post-graduate course on school chess is part of the CHAMPS Erasmus plus project that was launched during the London Chess Conference. The Summer School will bring together teachers and teacher trainers from all over Europe for an intensive week of advanced professional development under the lead of Professors Fernand Gobet (Cognitive Psychology), Barry Hymer (Educational Psychology) and Jorge Nuno Silva (Mathematics and Games). Methods and materials developed in the CHAMPS are part of the course.

Attendees will receive a certificate and can additionally get 3 ECTS upon completion of a paper, based on action research in their classroom during the months after the Summer School.

Applicants must have at least two years experience of teaching chess, a good command of English and be academically trained school teachers or have at least a bachelor in social science, mathematics or another relevant field. We specially encourage applications by those who train teachers for teaching chess. Chess teachers and tutors are kindly refered to the ECU teacher chess training or other courses.

The course fee of €300 includes course materials and refreshments. We offer full waivers for ten applicants from low income countries. Applicants must send a CV and a motivation letter (and if you want to apply for free attendance a proof of current income) until 15 March 2018.

Girona is known for its beautiful old town, excellent restaurants, airport and former mayor Carles Puigdemont. Girona is half an hour drive from the Costa Brava and an hour to the North of Barcelona. Accomodation in a modern student house with personal bathroom, kitchenette and wifi is available for €27 in single and €19 double per person and night.

Ask for a course folder (PDF) or other queries: summerschool@chessplus.net

Clearer Objectives in Scholastic Chess

International co-operation and a stronger commitment towards education is the way forward for school chess. This is the main conclusions of the fifth London Chess Conference which brought together eighty activists and researchers from 24 countries during the first week-end of the London Chess Classic, that was sponsored by Chess in Schools and Communities, the European Chess Union and benefiting from Erasmus Plus mobility grants.

Networking during a coffee break (photo: Leila Raivio)

Most attendees accepted that a distinction must be made between scholastic chess that is oriented towards school curricula and delivered by regular teachers who have been trained on chess didactics and how to integrate chess with the school curriculum from competitive school chess that is mostly an after-school activity delivered by chess tutors or teachers with the goal of finding and nurturing chess talent. It was noted that whilst most research scarcely details the method and content of chess instruction, future studies must look at precisely how chess is taught and how it is connected to the school curriculum.

Conference Director John Foley with Grandmaster Maurice Ashley who works in schools in St. Louis and New York City (photo: Leila Raivio)

Another flaw with existing research studies is in their design. One cannot prove a causal effect without having both an active and a passive control group. “Chess instruction is not a magic bullet but has a good placebo effect”, said Professor Fernand Gobet who has been warning against this flaw in the study design for fifteen years. He reckons that most studies were conducted by chess proponents who were satisfied to produce a positive result irrespective that the basic design is inadequate. Three-group-designs are standard in video games as well as on music instruction and cognitive training, which Gobet and his PhD student Giovanni Sala have systematically reviewed. Their verdict is that cognitive effects of these several types of intervention are close to zero. If anything, chess is doing slightly better, said Gobet, and encourages us not to focus only on cognitive effects: “Decide what you want to reach in scholastic chess and customise your tools!”

“Chess is not a magic bullet but has a good placebo effect”, said Fernand Gobet (photo: Lennart Ootes)

In order to move ahead, scholastic chess organisations should not only focus on their impact but also what their learn during projects. The value of formative evaluations was argued in a lecture and workshop by Jakob Rathlev from the Danish Scholastic Chess Association and Professor Brian Kisida from the University of Missouri professor who advises the Chess Club and Scholastic Centre of St. Louis.

Professor William Bart´s several suggestions to improve the state of research found a mixed response. While a centre for scholastic chess research would be a very useful resource, it is not likely to materialise in the near future. More practical would be the establishment of a Journal of Scholastic Chess. The consensus is to start with the creation of an international network of scholars and key activists engaged in networking and project building. The next step will be to create a map of knowledge on which to base a future research agenda. Progress on this front as well as on the CHAMPS (Chess and Mathematics in Primary Schools) Erasmus Plus project that was launched at the conference will be reported at our sixth edition during the London Chess Classic in December 2018.

Planning is underway for our sixth conference in December 2018 (photo: Leila Raivio)