Testing the effectiveness of crossword games on immediate and delayed memory for scientific vocabulary and concepts

AbstractWord games such as crossword puzzles are widely used in education to help familiarize students with technical vocabulary. Despite an extensive literature discussing their use, few published research articles have established their effectiveness on memory retention and retrieval, especially in comparison to control study methods. We report two experiments in which university introductory psychology students studied materials relevant to their coursework using an on-line interactive word game. Results showed that word games improved later tests of the material, both on immediate test and after a delay, and retention was most enhanced in comparison to control when the clues were solved repeatedly and given with difficult orthographic hints. Importantly, easy clues were not retained over time even with multiple repetitions. Results suggest that word games can be effective in this domain, but it depends on how they are implemented, and several factors predicted by existing cognitive theory can guide implementation choices.

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