I have an idea to help with self-study and recall of definitions.

It is to create a crossword where the clues are the definitions and the words to solve are the concepts being defined.

I haven't come across this study technique before, so my question is is there any evidence that solving crosswords helps improve declarative memory for recalling maths definitions?


2 Answers 2


I had a teacher friend who learned in college that word searches were worthless in most respects, but crosswords should have some intrinsic value because it requires you to read the definition and connect it with the proper vocabulary word. So, I did some research and found two things worth sharing:

This study reports 90% of students said crossword puzzles enhanced their learning. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2972511/

The best research I uncovered is below. They not only did research on the topic itself, but cite many other papers that show that crossword puzzles do indeed have many specific educational benefits. However, the results of the study itself were mixed when educational outcome was specifically looked at. With one group benefitting from the crossword puzzle and one group seemingly suffering poorer grades after using the crossword puzzle for test review, more research seems necessary to definitively answer your question. http://www.uncw.edu/jet/articles/vol9_3/davis.pdf

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    $\begingroup$ interesting, but, is this discussion at all about Math? $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2017 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ +1, I don't think it necessarily has to have anything to do about math to answer this particular question. I appreciate this sourced research-based answer! $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2017 at 15:09

When geometry was suddenly added to my elementary school curriculum my students were overwhelmed with all of definitions that they had to learn at once. A group of 5th grade students voluntarily created crosswords for the rest of the class to practice the vocabulary. The students who created the crosswords learned the most. The rest of the class enjoyed practicing vocabulary much more this way. Any method that gets students to practice will help them learn and so I reused the crosswords every year.

Discovery Education has a great site for creating crosswords that both I and my students used.


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