Scholastic Chess-Based Instruction: Student Perceptions of the Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Benefits of Chess

  • Michael Littrell


This study is part of an evaluation of a Chess in Schools Initiative (CIS) which was a program implemented in 2017-2018 by a State Department of Education in the southeastern United States. The aim of the program was to introduce chess instruction in the classroom in order to impact the areas of curriculum standards, critical thinking, and 21st Century Skills. Teachers were trained in the use of chess in education, how to both play chess, and to use the game during lesson time in different subject areas. This presentation focuses on students’ perceptions of the benefits of chess in several areas; cognitive, academic, and social. The data were obtained from a cross-sectional survey administered at the end of the academic year after a year-long exposure to chess. The findings showed that the majority of the 1,286 students who were surveyed across all grade levels felt they had experienced a variety of positive outcomes as a result of their exposure to chess-based instruction. Large percentages (Grades 1-4: 65.8%; Grades 5-12: 43.6%) of students had an increased enjoyment of math and felt an overall increase in their ability to work harder on their school assignments (Grades 1-4: 82.7%; Grades 5-12: 65.7%) after participating in chess-based instruction. Also, students (Grades 1-4: 80.6%; Grades 5-12: 65.7%) felt better able to work on difficult assignments. These perceived increases could prove beneficial in understanding chess-based learning as they provide insight beyond only measuring students on metrics such as test scores.

Education-Curriculum and Instruction