Crossword Puzzles Active Learning in Undergraduate Pathology and Medical Education by ProQuest


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									                                     Education in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

                                                 Crossword Puzzles
            Active Learning in Undergraduate Pathology and Medical Education
                     Anurag Saxena, MD, MBBS; Raenelle Nesbitt, MD; Punam Pahwa, PhD; Sheryl Mills, PhD

● Context.—Second-year medical students are introduced                    (41 students) with a survey using questions with a 5-point
to many new terms and concepts in a short time frame in                   Likert scale.
the hematology system and the neoplasia section of the                       Results.—Many students (37 of 39 in 2003 and 24 of 41
undergraduate pathology course. It is a challenge to pro-                 in 2004) indicated that crosswords were useful and con-
vide adequate practice and necessary repetition to rein-                  tributed to their learning. Specifically, crosswords were
force key concepts.                                                       found to be useful for identifying key concepts and vocab-
  Objective.—To determine student perceptions of the                      ulary and for their collaborative and competitive aspects.
usefulness of crosswords as a quick and effective way to                  Written and informal comments indicated student enthu-
                                                                          siasm for and a desire to participate in more of these ex-
reinforce essential concepts and vocabulary.
                                                                          ercises. Students have transferred this review strategy to
  Design.—Crosswords with ensured content validity                        other classes and the peer teachers have expressed an in-
built on a free Internet resource were completed by the                   terest in it as an adjunct teaching tool.
students in collaborative and cooperative groups of 6 to                     Conclusions.—The judicious use of crosswords was use-
7 with a reward for the first group to successfully com-                   ful for near transfer content and provided an opportunity
plete the puzzle. Student perceptions of the value of                     to discuss and recall essential concepts, think critically,
crosswords for their learning were examined in 2003 (39                   and collaborate in small groups.
students) with a survey of yes or no responses and in 2004                   (Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2009;133:1457–1462)

A   growing body of research has indicated that incorpo-
      rating active learning strategies improves under-
standing and learning.1,2 The major benefits include fos-
                                                                          squares of Pompeii and 300 AD Egypt, are commonly
                                                                          found today in magazines, newspapers, and trade jour-
                                                                          nals. Arthur Wynne is credited with creating the first
tering development of critical thinking, communication,                   ‘‘modern’’ crossword that appeared in the December 21,
and cooperative learning skills and attitudes and values3;                1913, Sunday ‘‘Fun’’ section of the New York World as a
promoting concept formation; providing an avenue for                      ‘‘word-cross.’’12 There are many forms of this game in-
discovering misconceptions2; and increasing motivation.4                  cluding the US style symmetrical crossword, cryptic cross-
Games and puzzles, forms of active learning, are helpful                  words, and others.13 Crossword puzzles have been used
to review, summarize, practice, find out gaps in knowl-                    by others in medical and nursing education11,14–17 and staff
edge, and develop new relationships among concepts.5                      development.18 Crosswords have also appeared in medical
Games are considered valuable for the acquisition and ap-                 and nursing journals19,20 to review and summarize infor-
plication of cognitive, affective, and psychomotor knowl-                 mation in an engaging manner. An extended matching
edge and skills.6 Various formats of games and puzzles                    crossword puzzle has been used to assess students’ di-
have been used to supplement traditional teaching, for ex-                agnostic thinking and clinical reasoning.21 It is claimed
ample, jeopardy-style game in obstetrics,7 card games for                 that crosswords expand the vocabulary, stimulate the
gastrointestinal physiology,8 frame game in psychiatry,9                  mind, and help develop healthy skepticism.12
panel board games in immunology,10 and puzzles for gas-                      In the hematology system and the neoplasia section of
trointestinal physiology.11                                               undergraduate pathology courses for second-year medical
   Crossword puzzles, with a history dating back to word                  students at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon,
                                                                          Canada, students are introduced to many new terms and
                                                                          concepts in a short time. This has posed a challenge in
  Accepted for publication December 11, 2008.                             providing adequate practice and necessary repetition to
  From the Departments of Pathology (Dr Saxena) and Community
Health and Epidemiology, Royal University Hospital (Dr Pahwa), the        reinforce key concepts. The hematology system is also the
Department of Family Medicine, College of Medicine (Dr Nesbitt), and      first clinical system in the second year (phase B) and stu-
the Department of Educational Administration, College of Education        dents have not yet become proficient in organizing
(Dr Mills), University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.                thought processes around clinical problem solving or flu-
  The authors have no relevant financial i
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