LTA Connect: Crossword puzzles – an enjoyable way to aid learning and problem-solving

Crossword puzzles are an enjoyable way of solving problems – information from the clue is read and combined with existing knowledge to work out the solution. There is published evidence from educational research to show that crossword puzzles help develop higher order thinking skills.

Crosswords have been used in the teaching of chemistry, physiology, business studies and other disciplines, and evidence shows that they can improve learning and performance in assessments.

Dr Anthony Luke, Lecturer, Inverness College UHI has been using crossword puzzles with students as an additional learning tool and to aid with revision. This webinar will show you how to compose, compile and publish your own crossword puzzles for your students to use as a fun revision tool.

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Dr Anthony Luke, Lecturer, Inverness College UHI

Anthony Luke, Inverness College UHI

I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Newcastle University in 1998 and then moved to Durham University, attaining my PhD in 1991, having tried (and gloriously failed) to make magnets which contained no metal. I then went into local government environmental health where I spent the next 25 years doing everything from air pollution monitoring to noise nuisance investigation and waste offence prosecution.

I joined Inverness College UHI as a Supply Lecturer in Chemistry in 2014, and I now teach full time at all levels from below National 5 to degree. While studying for my Postgraduate Certificate in Further Education I developed a keen interest in theories of learning, especially developing higher order thinking skills.

Through this work I started compiling and using  crossword puzzles for teaching chemistry and biochemistry at Higher and HNC level and provided them for students to use as an additional learning tool. To succeed at these levels students must use higher order skills to solve problems. To be useful to the student, the puzzles must be relevant to the subject matter being taught and learned. I used the Higher course content to compose clues using a variety of crossword techniques, including simple (“missing word”) cryptic anagrams. Puzzle grids were compiled using free online software (for example Armored Penguin).

Students were given the puzzles to try to help with revision, with interesting results: instead of starting reading at the beginning of a chapter and losing interest, when using the puzzles they were reading intently and deeply, cross-referencing and discussing their progress with fellow students.

In a subsequent written questionnaire the students responded positively to the puzzles, saying that they made learning fun and helped them to revise.

In this webinar I will show you how you can use crosswords as a fun, useful addition to your teaching repertoire.


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