Bridging the Web: WebQuests in Writing Classrooms

Bridging the Web: WebQuests in Writing Classrooms

Chia-Pei Wu (I-Shou University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJOPCD.2016070103
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Abstract

In this study, 60 students of an EFL writing course participated in a semester-long WebQuest authoring activity. This activity is designed for students to improve their English learning reading and writing skills in the process of WebQuest creation. The study discussed the use of the Internet technology to mediate classroom activities. The study then investigated how students enhanced their writing skills through WebQuest construction. The study also implemented higher order thinking skills by reflecting on their learning progress. Research data was collected from students' reflective journal, in-depth interview, and the final product of student-created WebQuests. The findings indicated that the experimental design facilitated and mediated classroom discussion and cooperative learning. In addition, it enhanced students' writing skills by reading on the Internet. The higher order thinking skills were also represented in students' WebQuest creativity.
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Introduction

WebQuest, an ever-lasting emerging educational technology, is heading to its 20th year of birth while reinventing itself from time to time. In the study, WebQuest is utilized as a model as well as a technology that guides the usage of other emerging Internet technologies to facilitate English as a foreign language (EFL) students’ learning. While information is overwhelming already on the Internet, classroom teaching and learning become a tremendous challenge for EFL teachers. English learning, therefore, is mediated by the Internet technologies at large. With WebQuests, students may learn to find useful information on the Web, they have to read extensively, evaluate the texts, select related information, and synthesize the content to generate the meaning (Crawford & Brown, 2002). WebQuests have six components, commonly referred to as building blocks (Dodge, 2004). The six building blocks include:

  • 1.

    Introduction: In the WebQuest teaching strategy, the aim of the introduction is to incite the students’ motivation and interest. For example, by sharing some pictures of theme park amusement facilities in preparation to create a theme park adventure tour, an atmosphere that challenges the physical limits of the students will help them to prepare to accept and take charge of the task that follows.

  • 2.

    Task: The task is the core part of WebQuest in which the students aim to achieve the outcome by the end of the course. Students incorporate the exercises for listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills into the design of WebQuest activities. Dodge (2002) pointed out that the common task includes the following classifications: Retelling tasks, design tasks, mystery tasks, journalistic tasks, design tasks, creative product tasks, consensus building tasks, persuasion tasks, self-knowledge tasks, and analytical tasks. Teachers can also create new and different tasks, through which they can help to conduct high-level thinking activities including analysis, integration, appraisal, creation, and problem solving (Huang, 2007).

  • 3.

    Process: In this part, teachers should specifically describe the steps and procedures to complete the task and guide students to complete the task step by step (Young & Wilson, 2002). The workflow is divided into two main stages. In the first stage, students are put into groups and assigned roles within the group to complete individual tasks. While in the second stage, each group of students integrates their individual work into the final product.

  • 4.

    Information Sources: WebQuest learning resources are high-quality information screened by the teachers. The aim of WebQuest is to avoid students wasting much time and effort collecting inappropriate information. In addition to Internet resources, data sources can also be sought from non-Internet information, such as newspapers and magazines, professional reports, textbooks, digital discs, interview reports, etc.

  • 5.

    Evaluation: Unlike the traditional approach that evaluates student performance via percentage quantification, the WebQuest evaluation approach adopts an evaluation rubric. It is a qualitative approach to evaluate the learning outcome of students as well as a criterion-referenced scoring method (Chao, 2004). The evaluation can be conducted by teachers, the students themselves, or their peers.

  • 6.

    Conclusion: The aim of the conclusion is to have students and teachers summarize the learning content and the learning experience. Teachers can encourage students to reflect on the entire WebQuest learning process, applying all knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking learned on the problems of other disciplines (Piercy, 2004).

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