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Year : 2004  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 179--180

Crossword puzzle: A novel teaching-learning method

G Sivagnanam1, M Rajasekaran2, C Jayashree2, R Sreepriya2, R Rajakannu2,  
1 Department of Pharmacology, India
2 Department of Pharmacology, KAP Viswanatham Government Medical College, Trichirappalli, India

Correspondence Address:
G Sivagnanam
Department of Pharmacology, KAP Viswanatham Government Medical College, Trichirappalli

How to cite this article:
Sivagnanam G, Rajasekaran M, Jayashree C, Sreepriya R, Rajakannu R. Crossword puzzle: A novel teaching-learning method.Indian J Pharmacol 2004;36:179-180

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Sivagnanam G, Rajasekaran M, Jayashree C, Sreepriya R, Rajakannu R. Crossword puzzle: A novel teaching-learning method. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2004 [cited 2023 Mar 26 ];36:179-180
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The concept of 'active learning' is gaining much momentum, especially in the field of medicine. New methods like Problem-based learning (PBL) Quiz,[1] to name a few are being introduced, based on the said concept. Here we would like to share our experience of a novel teaching-learning (T-L) method, 'crossword puzzle' in the subject of pharmacology. In the academic year 2001-2002, we introduced the crossword puzzle to II year medical undergraduates during the interim of their one and half year course in pharmacology. The objectives were: to gauge the interest among students in a medical crossword puzzle and to test the knowledge of the relevant systems in pharmacology.

Two crossword puzzles (one in General Pharmacology, a slightly modified version has been published in The Meducator[2] and another in Autonomic Nervous System) were constructed and reviewed by the authors for suitability to students. After completion of teaching the respective systems (i.e. minimum of one month), one printed crossword puzzle, consisting of about 25 items across and down, each was distributed to each of the randomized groups of students. Each group consisted of three students. The time allotted for completion was one hour. Irrespective of the status of completion, all the puzzle sheets were collected and an anonymous evaluation sheet was distributed individually to students. The evaluation questionnaire consisted of a) usefulness of the crossword puzzle session, b) difficulty level of the topic, c) necessity for such sessions in future, d) improvement in knowledge and e) any other suggestions/comments. Gradation in the evaluation sheet regarding 'usefulness' consisted of a scale ranging from No (Zero), a little (1) to very much (5). At the end of the session the correct answers were discussed with the aid of a multimedia projector.

None of the groups could complete the two puzzles in the allotted time. On the whole, the average completion rate of answers was 65% (range 41% to 81%) and 58% (range 30% to 75%) for General Pharmacology and Autonomic Nervous System respectively. The result, upon analysis of the evaluation sheets is given below [Table:1]. Though no group could complete the puzzles, the enthusiasm created by the sessions was reflected in the feedback. There is no known report in the literature regarding the usage of a crossword puzzle as a T-L method in pharmacology. It is a novel tool, especially for group learning, generating much interest and interaction within the group and also between the educators and learners. A well-planned crossword puzzle is likely to test higher levels of cognition as compared to many other types of assessments.

The major limitations of our study were

a. The study was conducted in only one institution and the number of students were expectantly far below for a meaningful extrapolation to a large population. A study involving successive batches and possibly other centers could be more meaningful.

b. In any new T-L method the views of the teachers also have an important bearing. Unfortunately, because very few teachers were there and the majority of them were part and parcel of the study, this could not be undertaken, bearing in mind the bias factor.


1Rotti SB, Dutta S, Danabalan M, Narayan KA, Soudarssanane MB, Roy G. Use of a quiz as a method to teach nutrition and health. Med Teach 2001;23:519.
2Sivagnanam G, Theodore S. Pharmcross. Meducator 2002;2:55-63.