What is a WebQuest?
A WebQuest is an inquiry-based, cooperative learning activity in which students work in teams to find information from the internet to solve a problem or accomplish a task. Teams consist of 3 to 5 students, each of whom has a specific role in the group. Each role is different and critical to the task, so the contribution of each student is necessary and important.
WebQuests challenge students to tackle real-life problems and answer questions that are more relevant and meaningful than just memorizing information out of a book. Project based learning activities such as WebQuests are engaging and enhance student motivation. Students discover and apply information in creative ways that require critical thinking and problem solving skills including analysis, synthesis and judgment.
Completion of the project often includes some type of presentation of their results to the rest of the class such as a poster, diorama, pamphlet or PowerPoint presentation.
WebQuest tasks vary according to grade level. Younger students might research the life cycle of a frog or butterfly, life in the colonial period, or the water cycle. For older students, some questions could be: what is the best alternative energy source, what are the effects of human activity on the food chain in different biomes, or how is math used in different careers.
The Elements of a WebQuest
WebQuests consist of five basic elements.
* Introduction- a short overview and introduction to the Big Question that the WebQuest will be addressing.
* Task- what the final result should be. This varies by subject and grade level. It may be in the form of a problem to be solved or a product to be created.
* Process- the steps that the students must take to accomplish the task. This should be structured so that students are clear about what they need to do. It may be organized in numbered steps, a checklist, flow chart or a graphic organizer. A list of links should be provided for the students to use to find information online. Giving students approved links ensures that they will be using reliable information, and also gives them a head start toward achieving their goal. Links to any other relevant information that students need should also be included here.
* Evaluation- this is usually in the form of a rubric that describes how student performance will be evaluated. Criteria may include working collaboratively, using time wisely, creativity, presentation, organization, or other factors, depending on the task. The group may be graded as a whole, or students may be graded individually.
* Conclusion- a summary of what students will learn or accomplish by completing the task.
Teachers can design their own WebQuest from scratch using a template or choose from the many excellent WebQuests available for free online. The Quest Garden has a searchable database (http://webquest.org/search/index.php) containing thousands of WebQuests for all subjects and grade levels.