Mental Chunking in Chess, Exercise and Learning

By Dr. Gene Klein

I am a certified education specialist and former math professor at Keiser University.  I currently tutor students in most subjects, though I specialize in mathematics.

Anyone who knows me knows I spend a lot of time in the gym.  I push myself to excel at jumping rope, balancing, and jumping on higher and higher boxes.  Achieving my goals requires both chunking the physical skills involved and then fitting the new fundamental skill into a wider angle of the activity.  For example, to jump onto a high box while holding a heavy ball, it makes sense to first try the jump with your arms folded onto your chest.  This “locks out” your arms and prevents you from using momentum to help you jump.

Learning chess involves the same mental chunking followed by the same mental exertion of situating and using this new-found mental resource in the wider-angle learning process.  This meta-learning (learning about learning) helps students in STEM classes, where the subject matter builds on previously learned content.  Moreover, meta-learning helps students improve their metacognition.  This improvement in metacognition occurs because it is easier to obtain feedback from self-created chunked mental modules than from an instructor working with a double-digit number of students.  

Chess may significantly surpass physical activity in instilling strategic thinking.  I am not on any sort of master level – in fact, I am pretty sure I am not on any level at all – but I even understand the importance of the endgame in chess.  In other words, learning about chess means learning how to plan for a winning position at the end of the game while you play the game. This dual level strategic thinking is invaluable in, among other things, mathematical proofs.

For those interested in more about the connection between activity and generalized learning and instruction, send me a friend request on Facebook or give a shout out at (954)294-1617. 

-Dr. Gene Klein

18 thoughts on “Mental Chunking in Chess, Exercise and Learning”

  1. Mental chunking in chess is a strategic exercise that enhances mental abilities. Breaking down complex moves into manageable chunks aids learning. This mental workout not only refines chess skills but also serves as a valuable exercise for cultivating focused and strategic thinking in various aspects of learning.

  2. I also used to get a tutor for my children, and I saw how much it helped them improve in the subject of math. Because of this, they had more confidence to participate in competitions.

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