Effectiveness of crossword puzzle as an adjunct tool for active learning and critical thinking in Pharmacology

Shrikrishna Kolte, Pradeep R. Jadhav, Yeshwant A. Deshmukh, Arun Patil


Background: Modern pedagogic methodologies are being introduced in Medical education and there is a growing evidence of crossword puzzle as an educational tool for active learning, problem solving and critical thinking. The aim of the study was to study the effectiveness of crossword puzzle as an adjunct to the conventional lecture for active learning and critical thinking in Pharmacology. This was a parallel group; pre and post assessment, educational intervention study conducted among second year undergraduate medical students.

Methods: Second year medical students were randomly selected and assigned to two groups A (Cross word puzzle) and B (control), after an hour conventional lecture on “Drugs for Hypertension” In both the groups, pre- and post-intervention knowledge was assessed using the MCQ test. A self-designed crossword puzzle on the lecture topic was used as an intervention and students were allowed to read textbooks with a crossword puzzle in intervention group A, whereas control group B were allowed to read textbook only. After 45 minutes, the post-intervention assessment was done in both groups with the same set of MCQ and students’ feedback on crossword usefulness was obtained.

Results: The average MCQ test score in Group A improved significantly from 6.65±3.4 pre-intervention to 11.26±2.5 post-intervention (p <0.05) with absolute learning gain 30.73 % and relative learning gain 69.32 %. The average test score in Group B also improved significantly from 5.7±2.9 pre-intervention to 9.59±2.5 post-intervention (p <0.05) with absolute learning gain 25.93 % and relative learning gain 68.23%. There was a significant improvement in the MCQ scores in both the groups after intervention. But the post-intervention MCQ scores in group A (crossword puzzle) was higher and statistically significant (P <0.05) in comparison to group B.

Conclusions: Cross-word puzzle promotes active self-learning and develops critical thinking among medical students. It could be used as supplementary educational tool in pharmacology to enhance problem-solving skills along with the information provided through traditional teaching lectures or could be used as a micro task.


Crossword puzzles, Education, Medical, Problem solving, Pharmacology/education, Teaching/methods

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