Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Crossword Puzzles as a Tool to Enhance Learning about Anti-Ulcer Agents

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Crossword Puzzles as a Tool to Enhance Learning about Anti-Ulcer Agents

Article excerpt


Much of the material delivered to students in the pharmacy curriculum is through "presentation" of factual information via passive teaching methods. (1,2) Incorporation of active-learning methods into classroom instruction allows lecturers to engage students in the learning process and enhance their learning experience. (1,3,4) Use of games in the pharmacy classroom is an effective way of introducing active learning in the classroom. (5,6) Games such as "PK Poker" and "Who Wants to Be a Med Chem Millionare?" offer a resourceful supplement to lecturing and provide a positive learning experience for students. Crossword puzzles also are useful as structured educational tools for facilitating critical thinking and reinforcing the material acquired during the lecture. (4,7-9)

South University School of Pharmacy presents important material in the pharmacy curriculum in integrated sequence modules. Examples of the integrated sequence modules are: infectious disease, inflammation, gastrointestinal/hepatobiliary, endocrine, and cardiology. The use of organ-system-based modules allows lecturers from the pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, and therapeutics disciplines to deliver lecture material in an integrated and sequential manner. Crossword puzzles were used in the integrated sequence module covering gastrointestinal diseases during 3 lectures focusing on the pharmacology and medicinal chemistry of anti-ulcer agents. Crossword puzzles were designed to provide students with feedback regarding their understanding of the material presented in the lecture and to promote student involvement in the learning process. This article describes the use of crossword puzzles in lectures covering the pharmacology and medicinal chemistry of anti-ulcer agents and includes student evaluation of the crossword puzzles as a low-stakes educational tool for enhancing student learning.


Using a free online resource, (10) crossword puzzles were designed for 3 lectures describing the pharmacology and medicinal chemistry of anti-ulcer agents (Figure 1). These lectures were part of the gastrointestinal integrated sequence course, which met biweekly for 75 minutes in a 10-week quarter. Specific learning objectives for each of the 3 lectures are summarized in Table 1.

Definitions of terms introduced in class and specific information such as chemical properties and side effects of drugs presented in the lecture were supplied as "down" or "across" clues to solve the crossword puzzle. The puzzle clues were developed in alignment with the learning objectives for the lecture. Since the first lecture on anti-ulcer agents covers an introduction to ulcers, the molecular mechanism of gastric acid secretion, an overview of the treatment options, and specific antacids used in the clinic, the crossword was designed to test each of these topics (Figure 1). Covering information from each of the important lecture topics in the crossword puzzle provided feedback to the students on those areas on which they needed to spend more time. The clues given to the students were created at a moderate difficulty level as more difficult puzzles may have discouraged students from participating in the activity. (4)

Printed copies of the crossword puzzles were handed out to the students at the beginning of the class. Students were asked not to complete the puzzles until told to do so by the lecturer. When all of the pertinent material covered in the crossword puzzles had been presented in the lecture (approximately 45-55 minutes into the class), the students were given 5 minutes to complete the puzzle. Students were encouraged to interact with each other while completing the puzzle to promote cohesive learning and identify misconceptions students had about the lecture material. After 4 minutes, when a majority of students had finished solving the crossword puzzle, the lecturer announced that 45-60 seconds were remaining. …

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