Topic Number: 12-25ZC
Project Contact: Jill Keto, Founder
Web Address: www.zoomchess.com
26 years in the making, ZoomChess curriculum was developed by Harlan Lee, a Senior Chess Master. It is widely regarded as the finest chess curriculum available online. His chess curriculum has been used by America's Foundation for Chess, Chess4kids, and ChessMate Academy. ZoomChess’ adaptive learning technology was developed by Marty Hirsch, a former NASA engineer, who has been developing chess software for 20 years. He wrote one the most powerful human vs. Computer chess engines in existence.
What is ZoomChess?
ZoomChess is a self-paced adaptive technology for learning chess online. The kid-friendly environment is based on puzzle solving with matching "movie lessons" for each puzzle topic. Adaptive learning is the process of delivering learning material that adjusts to the level of each student. Since the curriculum is non-linear, there is no correct or incorrect path to learning. For example, some students will watch all the lessons, and others will watch none, and instead try to solve the problems on their own.
Although both online learning and chess as an after-school enrichment activity are becoming increasingly popular in U.S. schools, few rigorous studies have been conducted on the effect of online learning programs for elementary schoolers in any subject, or how chess instruction helps learning of other subjects, such as math and reading.
To conduct an RCT involving all students across one grade level (3rd, 4th or 5th grade), ideally in 3 schools. Students can be either randomly assigned, across the grade level, or one classroom per grade level can be assigned to receive online chess instruction (treatment). The control group would receive no access to online chess instruction.
The experiment can span an appropriate time to allow the Evans School student to meet their academic requirements. Students will receive 40 minutes per week of online chess instruction at school. It would be interesting to also allow children to login at home, and learn at home in addition to the 40 minutes per week, and compare their data with the regular users. ZoomChess automatically and remotely tracks the time of each session.
ZoomChess is available online with computer access only. No tablet or hand-held version is available yet. Students in the study would need access to a computer lab or at school, school library computers, or in-class computers. Most classrooms are equipped with some in-class computers, but usually no more than 6 per class. In some cases, all students have laptops. This would be ideal.
Schedule - The elementary schools do two types of mandated tests: The State test called MSP, and 3x per year assessments that vary from district to district. Bellevue School district is using the STAR assessment, which is given on the computer and the results print out immediately. They take the STAR test mid year and again in May. This one would be great for data points.
More on STAR here:
A comparison can be made between the pre- and post-test scores in reading and math to the treatment group vs. the control group. If reading and/or math scores are higher for the treatment group, it would be a surprising finding in many respects:
1. When students are working independently and solving puzzles, the brain benefits across subjects.
2. That online learning for chess is a valid learning method and elementary students will benefit from the use of it, and that the spill-over effect increases overall learning.
That chess instruction increases ability in core subjects - math and reading.
That for some students (demographics - girls? ESL? at-risk?), chess learning will be especially effective in academic achievement.
What impact does supplemental online chess instruction (ZoomChess) have on elementary school student’s mathematics and reading learning by the end of one semester?
- To pitch schools on the idea of participating in the trial (we can also help in this area)
- To oversee the use of ZoomChess in the schools once per week during the trial period
- To gather pre-and post-test data and analyze the results.
- Connections to elementary schools
- Support from ZoomChess to overcome challenges, answer questions, and trouble-shoot (whatever this might entail, we are willing to help).
- Access to test data