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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Articles

Crossword Puzzles as Learning Tools in Introductory Soil Science


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 39 No. 1, p. 145-149
    Received: Jan 11, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): ken.barbarick@colostate.edu
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  1. K. A. Barbarick *
  1. Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State University, 200 W. Lake Street, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1170


Students in introductory courses generally respond favorably to novel approaches to learning. To this end, I developed and used three crossword puzzles in spring and fall 2009 semesters in Introductory Soil Science Laboratory at Colorado State University. The first hypothesis was that crossword puzzles would improve introductory soil science students’ interest in lab assignments. I used a five-question survey and one-way analyses of variance and chi-square statistical tests of the responses (responses were coded to a Likert scale) to test this hypothesis. Results indicated positive responses to crossword-puzzle usage; but, I found different average responses between the six sets of puzzles relative to their difficulty. The second hypothesis was that student reaction to each survey question would correlate to their total points earned or their academic major. The best correlation coefficient was a negative relationship between the survey question asking about the difficulty of the puzzle and the total points earned. Based on the positive student response for spring 2009 and fall 2009, I will routinely use crossword and possibly other “puzzles” in the Introductory Soil Science Laboratory course.

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