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Evaluation Plan for Instructional Unit

Teaching Middle School Students to Play Chess Online

Martha Rice

Texas A&M University - Texarkana

___________________________ ____________________________

Approval of Instructor Date

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According to research, the skills students learn and hone in learning and playing chess,

especially critical thinking skills, can help them become better math students as well as better

self-directed learners. Students can learn the basics of chess through online lessons and become

better at problem solving through continued chess playing. The online chess instructional unit

“Teaching Middle School Students to Play Chess,” which can be found at

http://pjhchess.wikispaces.com, was designed to teach middle school students to play chess and

to improve their skills at problem solving. To evaluate the efficacy of the instructional unit, after

taking a pretest to measure previous chess knowledge and about problem solving, three test

subjects will work through two of the online instructional modules. After the test subjects finish

the instructional units, they will take a posttest to measure what they learned about chess and

problem solving through using the instructional unit. Observations about test subjects’ ease in

using the instructional materials in length of time taken on each module will be recorded.

Preliminary test subjects will also provide attitudinal feedback via an online survey. Based on

test and survey results, instructional units will be improved, and a second, larger set of test

subjects (10-12) will repeat the evaluation, from pretesting chess and problem solving

knowledge to posttesting that same knowledge and providing survey information about the

instructional units themselves in order to improve the instructional units further.

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Students need to build skills and confidence in mathematics. Researchers have suggested

that there is a link between mathematics and chess. Gobet and Campitelli (2005) suggest that

students who learn and play chess do better scholastically. Mathematics success depends on

memory (Ashcraft & Krause, 2007), and according to Ferguson (n.d.), learning and working to

master chess improves memory.

Ferguson also suggests that success in chess encourages all kids to practice self-regulated

learning (SRL) and peer-guided learning. Ferguson also suggests that no matter what their

learning style, students benefit in playing chess because chess poses many problems to solve in a

competitive environment in which they want to succeed. Ho (2005) found that SRL has a

positive connection with academic achievement. Samuelsson (2008) found that problem-solving

increases students’ SRL, which in turn, alleviates mathematics anxiety. Marcou and Philippou

suggest that the key to SRL, which, in itself, is an important characteristic successful

mathematics students use, is the students’ belief in the task, the goal, and themselves. In fact,

SRL has become more important in schools, with teachers attempting to empower their students

to perform more independently, especially in mathematics problem-solving.

Teachers can help encourage students to practice SRL by promoting their students’

feelings that they will be successful. Students who understand that accurately gauging their self-

efficiency will increase their success in mathematics will feel more confident, and in turn, do

better in mathematics. Teachers who teach students problem-solving strategies produced the

greatest gains in a study carried out by Samuelsson (2008). When students used problem-solving

skills together with their peers, they were more interested in mathematics and more self-

confident about themselves and their abilities to solve problems and be successful in
Teaching middle school students to play chess online 4

mathematics. In fact, Reid (1992) found that cooperative learners benefited from individual

accountability, advancements in interpersonal skills and self-esteem, and achieved at a higher

level in mathematics. Intergroup competition seemed to be one of the reasons that these students


Experts in teaching mathematics using chess also promise leaps in mathematics

achievement (Root, 2008; Buky, 2007). Frank (1979) proved that chess can increase students’

mathematics (and verbal) scores. Ferguson (n.d.) proved that chess can increase students’

critical thinking skills. Buky (2007) and Buky and Ho (2008) proved that specific mathematics

skills can be improved when coupled with chess lessons. Margulies (1991) proved that the

process of learning chess increases students’ self-confidence in other problem solving situations,

a conclusion reinforced by Unterrainer, Kaller, Halsband, and Rahm (2006). Therefore, learning

and playing chess should enhance students’ success in mathematics.

AECT Standards

This project addresses standards established by the Association for Educational Communications

and Technology (AECT) including Instructional Design, Computer-Based and Integrated

Technology, Use of Media and Innovations, and Project Management. (Association for

educational communications and technology).

Formative Evaluation Plan


A. Purpose: The purpose of this project is to conduct a formative evaluation of an

instructional product, “Teaching Middle School Students to Play Chess Online,” to

Teaching middle school students to play chess online 5

determine its effectiveness in teaching middle school students to play chess in order to

improve the instructional units.

B. Product Description:“Teaching Middle School Students to Play Chess Online” is an

instructional unit designed to teach students basics of chess including rules and

characteristics of chess pieces and problem solving skills related to playing chess. The

instructional unit is delivered online and is available at

http://pjhtechapps.wikispaces.com. After an introduction, students can work through the

multimedia instructional units at their own pace and can check their own understanding

through online quizzes.

C. Audience: The instructional unit is designed for middle school students as enrichment

for math or technology classes.

D. Participant Selection: 3 7th grade students will test the chess instruction project to provide

constructive feedback. After using feedback to improve instructional materials, 10

students will use the instructional unit to learn to play chess. All students will be 7th or

8th graders at Pewitt Junior High School, including regular education, special education,

and gifted and talented education students.

E. Data Collection:

i. Preliminary assessment of test subjects’ chess and problem solving knowledge

(sample questions: What is the name of this piece? Where does it start the game?

How does it move? What is “check”? What does the king have to do if it is in

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ii. Researcher’s observations about how long it takes test subjects to use

instructional materials and about how easy it is for test subjects to use the site


iii. Test subjects will complete an online attitudinal survey using Survey Monkey to

answer questions about instructional materials’ 1) ease of use, 2) clarity, and 3)

level of engagement or user-friendliness. Questions primarily use Reichert scales

to allow test subjects to judge their levels of interest and learning using the online

chess learning materials. Survey is available at


iv. Post assessment of test subjects’ chess and problem solving knowledge (see

samples questions from preliminary assessment).

F. Data Analysis: After each evaluation, results from pre-assessment and post-assessment

will be compared to determine effectiveness of instructional materials and will enable

instructional materials to be improved. After each evaluation, researcher’s observations

and test subjects’ survey results will be studied to determine whether instructional

materials and course website are interesting and effect learning within test subjects, again

enabling instructional materials to be improved for target audience interest and to

maximize learning potential.

G. Project Timeline

February 7 Project proposal and acceptance

February 21 Instructional product

February 28 Instructional materials approved by expert

March 7 IRB approval

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March 14 Letters of approval by parents

March 15 Project elements tested by small group of students

March 15 Instructional analysis

March 16 Adjustments to project materials

April 1 Instruction tested by all students in project

April 18 Project report, first draw

May 2 Project report completed and submitted


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