Saturday, July 24, 2010

Week 5: Project-based Learning with WebQuest

“I wish to be one of your students”

I begin my post with this quotation to assert how lucky I am with my wonderful students. They not only make me feel proud of their achievements using the PBL, but also they convey their attitudes and experiences to other students to the degree that they wish to be like them.

In fact, project -based learning is considered a solution for many problems related to students. Many researchers (cited in Guo, 2007) point out that it engages them in the investigation of real life problems and develop their creativity, problem-solving and lifelong learning. Gaer (1998) also asserts that using such approach gives meaning to learning. This is what we search for. Finding meaning to learn is our ultimate GOAL. If students find such meaning, they will involve in their learning process not only to accomplish the required tasks in such projects, but also to find a relationship between their academic studies and the reality beyond classroom where experience plays a vital role.

I can never forget my students involving in the project I asked them to carry out. Many skills were developed either expected or not. They have learned how to surf the internet and use its resources effectively, how cite printed or electronic materials, how to use MS programs (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Publisher) in a very good way, how to search for information in the library, how to search for information around them asking their teachers, parents and other members in their community and how to present their products. I’m so proud of them and they honestly deserved to win in the competition of INTEL on the Republic level.

When I read about WebQuest as a tool for using the project-based learning, I found it not different from what we have done in our project. It is designed to lead students through a web-based lesson that can range from one class period to one month in depth and duration. However, WebQuest is more than simply exploring information related to one’s content area on the internet (Woodard, 2008). According to March (2003), a true WebQuest requires more than students exploring the internet in relation to a class related topic. A WebQuest requires that students complete a thoughtful and thorough exploration of internet-based content in order to increase their understanding of a topic. This exploration can be used on multiple instructional levels, either allowing for students to work collaboratively or individually.

Thus, the instructional purpose for the WebQuest was to “use learner’s time, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners’ thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation” (Dodge, 1997).

This means that we should select more challenging and authentic tasks that require students explore more information using higher order skills like analyzing, synthesizing and creating.

Woodard (2008) in his article “WebQuest in the English Classroom”: suggested a very valuable list of tips for teachers using this tool in their classrooms. I wanted to share it with you:
  1. When designing your WebQuest, make sure to keep the six essential elements of the WebQuest in mind: 1) Introduction, 2) Task, 3) Information sources, 4) Process, 5) Guidance, and 6) Conclusion. By keeping these six ideas in mind, you will be able to create a more effective WebQuest than if you were to put together a worksheet with a list of website and questions. The true WebQuest allows for students to gain a deeper understanding of a topic by a thorough exploration and the opportunity to make conclusions!
  2. Make sure to select your resources carefully on the internet. It is easy to slip up and give your students an unreliable website to look at. In other words, be familiar with good education resources that are available on the internet.
  3. The best WebQuests that I have looked at gave students choice. When Students are given choice in the assignments you give them, they will be more highly motivated and engaged in the assignment.
  4. Give students your grading rubric at the beginning of the WebQuest, so that they know how they will be assessed on the assignment. Your expectations for you students should always be clear.
Resources Used:


  1. Azhar,
    thanks for the list of tips you gave in your blog. They became very useful for me. I had problems ordering my webquest material


  2. Azhar,
    Wow. Lucky you.
    I do not have that type of students. I really have to know how to sell the product if I want them to try it. But I will certainly do it this coming Monday.


  3. Dear Azhar:

    A wonderful summary .The idea that you stated about the webquest being a source for learning not an endevour for searching is a valid one, but I think that through searching we can also gain the knowledge.

    The skills in focus could make the difference,so instead of focusing on searching in any websearch, in webquests ,the focus is on HOTS in the analysis , synthesis and evaluation forms.



  4. Dear, Azhar!
    I share Hanan's opinion. You managed to create a good summary of what we have been doing this week.Concerning your students, I migh only wish for the same, the ones who possess a strong desire to set and achieve goals.
    Good Luck


  5. Dear Azhar

    Thank you for an informative summary of the essential elements on WebQuests.

    I also agree that project -based learning is considered a solution for many problems related to students. However, consider this comment from a parent:

    "As a parent of a middle school student, I do not agree with this project based learning. The basics are not being taught to my child and I feel like he is not learning very much this year. All he has is one project after another and right now he has 4 projects he is trying to work on in 4 different classes. I am seriously considering homeschooling or a private school."

    Food for thought! I believe PBLs might be effective in teaching but if poorly planned, they definitely cease to be.


  6. Dear Juliet,

    I do agree with your point of view that projects without objectives are a waste of time. These projects are sometimes conducted separately without any relation to the syllabus. That's why students' parents object the idea. However, if we integrate PBL in the curriculum as Bella suggested, it will be beneficial.