ACTIVE LEARNING: CREATING INTERACTIVE CROSSWORD PUZZLES
1 University of Murcia (SPAIN)
2 Miguel Hernández University (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN11 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:Some recent research has indicated that games “seem to comprise all elements for a learning environment in which students are stimulated to use deep learning strategies” (Vos et al., 2011). The crossword puzzle is a well-known game that can be easily implemented in class.
Solving crossword puzzles is as active learning tool that can engage students with the material more than other passive techniques. Crossword puzzles aid to review course material and identify areas for further study in a fun way. Besides, as Whisenand and Dunphy (2010) have pointed out, “crossword puzzles can also appeal to various student learning styles”, so teachers using this nontraditional teaching pedagogy can reach to more students.
Crossword puzzles have been shown to be effective learning tools in disciplines such as pychology, communications, nursing or medical education (Crossman and Crossman, 1983, Weisskirch, 2006; Whisenand and Dunphy, 2010; Raines, 2010; Saxena, 2009). And they can also be thought to be useful in learning other social sciences, such as Business Administration.
We used crossword puzzles in an introductory Corporate Finance course with the purpose of enhancing students’ motivation for learning and stimulating their curiosity and interest about financial subjects. We considered that they could also be useful for reviewing and reinforcing concepts, expanding student’s vocabulary and stimulating their minds.
Recently, Vos et al. (2011) have shown the advantages of constructing versus playing an educational game on the student motivation and deep learning. So we designed a task that demanded more student activity than solving an existing crossword puzzle and could be received as a more challenging task: students were asked to create their own financial crossword puzzle.
This exercise can help students build a vocabulary of technical terms and improve their understanding and knowledge of financial subjects. Furthermore, creating crossword puzzles involves many useful skills for Business Administration students: imagination and creativity, reasoning, written communication and researching.
For an undergraduate course of Corporate Finance we created an interactive crossword puzzle that included major concepts from course lectures and also names of companies, financial markets and relevant people in the financial area. We used free software from EclipseCrossword.com. Some clues were statements, other examples and others fill-in-the blank. This crossword puzzle was completed by all the students together in class. The activity was well received by students.
After completing the crossword puzzle, students were proposed to create their own interactive financial crossword puzzle and to upload it in the virtual learning environment of the University so that the rest of students could solve them online.
We carried out a survey in order to assess students’ perceptions about crossword puzzles (competence, effort and deep strategy use). Students were asked to respond to 7-point Likert scales. All measures were based on extant literature.
Results on a preliminary sample of 80 students are very encouraging and show that crosswords puzzles exert a significant positive influence in both students’ perceived learning and their attitude towards the course. More specifically, we found that the perceived effort and the deep strategy use associated to the crossword puzzle activity influence both perceived learning and attitude towards the course.
Keywords: Active learning, crossword puzzles, deep learning.