Definition of a WebQuest

Types of WebQuests

Parts of a WebQuest
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Introduction
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Task
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Process
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Information Sources
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Evaluation
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Conclusion

Why WebQuests?!
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) TIME!!!
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Authentic
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Motivating
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Higher Order Skills
smgrball.gif (905 bytes) Cooperative Learning

An inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that students interact with comes from resources on the Internet.

Types of WebQuests
We need to review some basic information about WebQuests.  There are basically two types of WebQuests, short term and long term. 

A short term WebQuest lasts one to three periods or days and its goal is basic knowledge acquisition.  A good short term WebQuest will also include some type of subject integration. 

A long term WebQuest takes between one week and on month to complete.  A well planned long term WebQuest involves "extending and refining knowledge".

Parts of a WebQuest

The purpose of the introduction is to make the students aware of the upcoming problem they will be exposed to.  It is also hoped that the introduction will grab the student's interest and motivate them to learn.

The task section is similar to the more familiar learner objective we use in our lesson planning.  The task includes a description of what the learner will have learned and completed at the conclude of the WebQuest.  It may  simply be the better understanding of the assigned problem or a concrete project (webpage, Hyperstudio stack, PowerPoint slide presentation) demonstrating what the learner achieved as a result of the project.  Bernie Dodge has just published a list of tasks types that can be used in different WebQuests.  You might want to look at these to help generate your own ideas for WebQuest creation.  Visit  WebQuest Taskonomy: A Taxonomy of Tasks.

In the process section the teacher should give a recommended list of steps that learners may go through to achieve their goal.  Many WebQuests include cooperative grouping so this section also tells the students what different roles are available to play within each group.  It is hear that the teacher can also include information about how to effectively research, work with others, share the workload, etc.  The younger the students the more directive one will need to be.  Teachers may allow older students to vear from the specified path if it looks like the students have found another way to complete the task.  Of course this requires the teacher to be in constant contact with each of the groups and how they are progressing.  On some pages about WebQuests by Dodge and March they also refer to this section of the WebQuest as "guidance".

Information Sources
This is the part of the process that may overwhelm some teachers that are moving to more constructivist approaches to teaching and learning.  It is the teacher's job to sort through all the materials they have or can find on the given topic/problem that will valuable for the students.  These resources are certainly not limited to the Internet.  In fact, finding the right type of information on the Internet (accurate, accessible to students) may also be a lesson in futility and frustration.    Unfortunately the Internet still has a long way to go in terms of making it easy to find information.  It certainly has become easier with user-friendly search tools (,,,,, but the fact remains searching several hundred million pages for the information and materials you are looking for can be a mind-boggling if not overwhelming task.  

The evaluation section only appears in later WebQuest publications.  It is so new that Dodge and March don't point to many examples on the web to illustrate what this section involves in an actual WebQuest.  Basically Dodge and March say that if we spend time doing a learning activity in the class we need to be able to evaluate the learning that we hope took place.  Since most WebQuests involve high thinking skills evaluating the learning can be difficult for teachers with a standard pencil and paper test.  Dodge and March stress the importance of developing learning rubrics to use for evaluation. 

The conclusion section (described my Dodge and March as optional) is where a teacher can debrief the what was learned and gather feedback about the whole learning process.  When writing a concluding section a teacher might suggest related topics that students may want to pursue on their own as well as discussion questions to answer in class. This can be an extremely valuable step as this is where the teacher is able to review what was learned with the students again able to get a sense of what students learned.

Why WebQuests?!
WebQuests' goals and attributes are easily aligned to those of constructivist theories of education as well as problem-based learning. 

"WebQuests save Time and Aggravation":  Lets be honest - there is an infinite amount of information out on the web.  There is a catch however - the majority of it is not good!!!  Problems with internet searches for information are as numerous as the stars in the sky...  As a teacher/facilitator, you can limit your students to the information that you feel is suitable.  This will eliminate the time students waste looking for good sites. 

"WebQuests are authentic": The central question or problem involved with a quality Webquest is one that entices students to find an answer.  It is a question that needs to be answered.  It may be the type of real world problem that students will have to solve in their everyday life.  Real world problems are authentic, meaningful, engaging problems that students will embrace. At least that is our assumption....if we make the materials more challenging....the students will rise to meet those challenges.

"WebQuests increase motivation": Along with having authentic tasks to complete comes the idea that if students are given some control in the learning process they will take more responsibility for it and will thus be more motivated.  Another factor involved in WebQuests that leads to greater student motivation is the fact that students get to work with "real" resources.   Students can go outside the textbook to acquire some of their information.   They can be exposed and gather information from a variety of resources.  The Internet will provide access to many of these sub-resources.  For some students working on the Internet in any way, shape, or form is motivating.  WebQuests allow educators to focus the general "Internet is cool" motivation to high quality learning resources.

"WebQuests require higher order thinking skills": Granted, WebQuests can be used for simple information retrieval, but one of their greatest potential strengths is that they require students to interact with information in powerful ways.  WebQuests require students to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information and to often create a something that demonstates the student's learning.  Teachers can incorporate scaffolding techniques into their procedure section to help step students in a direction that leads to high-level thinking.

"WebQuests incorporate cooperative learning": Because many of the questions or problems posed in WebQuests (especially long-term) are difficult to answer it is unrealistic to expect each student to complete each step of the process or to master all that has to be learned.  Rather it is a much better use of educational time to develop problem solving groups with each student having a specific group that they are responsible to for completing to assist their group.