Introduction: Passive teaching in the form of didactic lecture is the usual mode of disseminating knowledge in dental colleges in India. An innovative way to address the diverse learners learning style at the undergraduate level is much sought after in dental education. Puzzles in the form of crossword and word search are structural, self-learning educational tools that review and reinforce knowledge and concepts acquired during the lecture. Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of crossword and word search puzzles as an active teaching learning method for dental undergraduates. Materials and methods: This is an open, randomized parallel group interventional study conducted with the final BDS students in the Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry of Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research. Two modules of the “must know” category of the curriculum were selected. The class was divided into two groups (interventional and control) using computerized random generator. Learners in both the groups were exposed to didactic lectures, but the activity of solving the puzzles was undertaken only by the interventional group learners. Questionnaire in the form of MCQ was given at the end of the activity to both the groups, and results were evaluated. Results: Mann–Whitney U test between interventional (Group I) learners revealed an average mean score of 4.2, 6.1, 9.3, and 6 out of 10 in the post-activity test when compared to 2.9, 6.6, 4.6, and 5.1 of the control (Group II) students and was statistically significant in three of four sessions. Conclusion: Our study revealed that puzzles can be used as an effective active learning tool to reinforce lecture material for dental undergraduates.
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