Logic Puzzles

Submitted by Fiona Lihs on

It was noted that one thing many scientists (and others) have in common is a love of puzzles.  They require critical thinking skills and many require a scientific inquiry type approach to solve.  We decided to see if encouraging our students to attempt a number of puzzles throughout the semester, for extra credit, would enhance their critical thinking skills or at least encourage them to start attempting more puzzles which may be have beneficial in the long run.  Each student is supplied with increasingly difficult Suduko puzzles throughout the semester, with completion being rewarded with a small amount of extra credit.

After several semesters of giving out the puzzles in class, I realized that only the students who already knew how to do the puzzles were the ones completing more than one puzzle.  Those that the assignment were aimed at tended to get frustrated by the puzzles and stop attempting them after the first one, I also learned that many students discovered online Suduko solvers to provide the answers.

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Average: 4 (3 votes)


Marianne Smith Mon, 11/18/2013 - 10:14pm

I agree that practicing critical thinking skills is really the only way to develop them, Fiona. I've also tried hidato puzzles with my MAT082 students, since no numeric skills (other than ordering numbers) are required. You can check out these types of puzzles at http://www.smithsonianmag.com/games/hidato.html

Erik Huntsinger Tue, 11/19/2013 - 10:54am

I also agree that solving puzzles is a fun and engaging way to promote critical thinking skills.  How will you know if it is having an impact on your students' ability to critically think?

Peter Turner Tue, 12/03/2013 - 3:52pm

Fiona - I love the idea of giving students puzzles, and I also like how you increase the difficulty. (I just seem to not be able solve above a level 3 Sudoku!)  It would be interesting to correlate student puzzle-solving ability with grades, success/completion rates, etc. to achieve what Erik asked above.

Kelly Loucy Tue, 01/07/2014 - 11:12am

Very neat idea! I have considered doing grammar/word search/etc. type puzzles at the start of class in my English classes. Did you see any impact on your students' abilities with the puzzles you used?