In recent years, pupils' poor achievement in mathematics has been a concern in many Western countries. Chess instruction has been proposed as one way to remedy this state of affairs, as well as improving other academic topics such as reading and general cognitive abilities such as intelligence. The aim of this paper is to quantitatively evaluate the available empirical evidence that skills acquired during chess instruction in schools positively transfer to mathematics, reading and general cognitive skills. The selection criteria were satisfied by 24 studies (40 effect sizes), with 2788 young people in the chess condition and 2433 in the control groups. The results show (a) a moderate overall effect size (g = 0.338); (b) a tendency for a stronger effect on mathematical (g = 0.382) than reading skill (g = 0.248), and (c) a significant and positive effect of duration of treatment (Q(1) = 3.89, b = 0.0038, p < .05). However, no study used an "ideal design" including pre- and post-test, full random allocation of participants to conditions and, most importantly, both a do-nothing control group and an active control group - a problem common in education research. Directions for further research are discussed.
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