The Internet has a vast array of information resources that educators and students can access when studying a particular topic. There are millions of different types of Web sites available on the Internet that could prove useful in the learning process. However, this wealth of Web resources can create problems determining which sites are valid, credible, and up-to-date. In addition, students become overburdened in locating applicable Web resources when completing coursework due to the quantity of Web sites (Faichney, 2002). WebQuests have increased in educational popularity by helping students perform inquiry-based and/or cooperative learning that is planned and organized. The need for students to cipher through numerous Web sites to determine applicability and authenticity is unnecessary because the research has already been performed and validated by the teacher in WebQuests. This article explains the role that WebQuests play in structuring curriculum content and giving students an authentic investigatory experience. The principles and components of WebQuests are described first to provide a foundation for their applications in instruction. Applications and methods of integration are also addressed to offer educators ideas on integrating WebQuests into the curriculum.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Inquiry-Based Learning: Instruction based on a progression of inquiries or questions that lead the student to examine the topic of investigation in-depth with the ultimate goal of developing possible solutions. Students begin with an essential question that frames a problem, proceed to definitional questions, and then research and assess related resources. This information is then applied to the development of possible solutions which are evaluated in the final phase of the experience.
Cooperative Learning: This instructional method uses small groups to solve a common problem or examine a common topic. The intent is to encourage effective group work habits that emphasize the importance of each individual member’s contribution.
Scaffolding: An organization of knowledge from abstract to applied and simple to complex so that the learner will progress in understanding from low levels of understanding towards more complex levels of understanding. Scaffolding provides more structured learning at the beginning of the process and reduces that structure as the student advances, thereby transferring the responsibly for learning from the teacher to the structure.
Constructivism: A philosophical theory that defines reality based experiences and individual interpretations of those experiences to construct reality. In education, constructivism is the concept that requires reflection and connection to a larger reality to be effectively adopted by the learner.
Process: A progressive set of stages that create change through a series of events or actions. The process includes suggestions that learners can take to complete a given task.
Task: A specific action that is observable and measurable and is a subset of a larger process or action. Successful task completion is the foundation of mastery for more complex skills that combine the application of multiple task based skills.
WebQuest: A scaffolded learning experience that is anchored on a central problem and researched through given quality resources. The intention is to develop higher level cognitive skills.