Why did chess players score higher on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking as well as the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal?

Briefly, there appear to be at least seven significant factors:

  1. Chess accommodates all modality strengths.
  2. Chess provides a far greater quantity of problems for practice.
  3. Chess offers immediate punishments and rewards for problem solving.
  4. Chess creates a pattern or thinking system that, when used faithfully, breeds success. The chessplaying students had become accustomed to looking for more and different alternatives, which resulted in higher scores in fluency and originality.
  5. Competition. Competition fosters interest, promotes mental alertness, challenges all students, and elicits the highest levels of achievement (Stephan, 1988).
  6. A learning environment organized around games has a positive affect on students’ attitudes toward learning. This affective dimension acts as a facilitator of cognitive achievement (Allen & Main, 1976). Instructional gaming is one of the most motivational tools in the good teacher’s repertoire. Children love games. Chess motivates them to become willing problem solvers and spend hours quietly immersed in logical thinking. These same young people often cannot sit still for fifteen minutes in the traditional classroom.
  7. Chess supplies a variety and quality of problems. As Langen (1992) states: “The problems that arise in the 70-90 positions of the average chess game are, moreover, new. Contexts are familiar, themes repeat, but game positions never do. This makes chess good grist for the problem-solving mill.”

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