The Web Quest Database: A Complete Guide to Creating Web Quests

Web Quests have taken the teaching world by storm since their inception in 1995, probably because it is such a wonderful way to teach students using the vast array of web resources. Creating and using a web quest is a fun both for teachers and students. The ultimate goal is to access additional information from the web, but the process of a web quest is more than that. It is an adventure written and created by an instructor and followed by students. Projects are created without drudgery, and often the quality of work produced is astounding, because a good web quest sparks excitement and creativity in students.

Web Quest Overview and Definition

The Web Quest model was originally created in February, 1995 by Bernie Dodge, PhD for a San Diego State University course. Tom March assisted in designing and refining the model. A web quest is an online activity in which an instructor outlines a quest or project, and asks students to visit specific websites to obtain information, to fulfil the requirements of the quest. Since then the model has been adapted for elementary, middle school and high school applications.

Further defining the web quest is an outline of criteria which simply states that a web quest should be inquiry–oriented, and based on a doable and engaging task. Web Quests should include pre-defined resources from the web (and possibly other resources), and that web quests can be short or long term. In many ways a web quest is simply the most logical and enjoyable way to instruct students using the Internet as a resource, and a step towards the introduction of Internet research as a concept. While students need to learn to formulate their own searches, this method insures students will find the right resources, and insures quality of resource material. It avoids the risk of misinformation, and shows examples of good reliable sites and what those look like.

Parts of a Web Quest

Although there have been a few variations as teachers make the process their own the essential parts of a Web Quest are:

1) Introduction- This should be paragraph written in the second person, addressing the student directly and explaining the background information and their role in the quest. Quests usually involve the creation of a scenario, in which the student plays a role. They can be explorers, senators, research scientists, ambassadors, even ambassadors to other planets who for various reasons must be able to understand, report on, explain and even illustrate, the subject matter to others who do not know anything about the topic.

2) Task – Start by writing a paragraph explaining what must be accomplished by the quest. Next include an exact list of what the students are required to do. Explain the learning goals, the exact form in which the information is to presented, give a description of any reports, charts, graphs or timelines you require them to produce. Explain any special tools or software that should be used including assignments for the creation of power point presentations, or tables using Excel programs. Insure that all the tasks are explained in detail.

3) Process – Outline step by step exactly what is required and how to divide the tasks between group members. This section should also provide the Internet links. Make a list of sites which are kid safe, and authoritative on the subject. Avoid sites with a lot of ads or that have confusing layouts. Try to find as many .Net, .Gov, and .Edu sites as possible and avoid sites that have questionable sources. List the sites in order, at the appropriate spot as part of each step.

4) Resources - List all the links and resources you have selected for the students to use. Sometimes this part is skipped and resources are included in the process step. While it is helpful to have resources listed at the point they are needed, a second list with headings that is all inclusive might be useful to students so why not include it.

5) Evaluation – In this section the instructor defines exactly how the project will be graded, and rephrases exactly what will be required, and how much of the grade will be based on each attribute of the project. This section is not only a place to explain grading, but also a place to clarify the requirements of the project. The evaluation should be based in the principles of Rubrics to insure standardized evaluation for all students. Specific criteria must be outlined which the instructor will use as a guide in grading the project. Establishing grading guidelines insures against bias, and allows students to know the standards on which their work will be graded.

6) Conclusion – The conclusion summarizes the entire web quest. It should provoke further thought on the subject matter and encourage students to reflect on what they have learned.

Standard lists of essential parts are not written in stone. Some writers include parts like guidance, or notes for teachers. Others change the names of steps to clarify the meaning to young students. It’s OK to call your conclusion an end note or evaluation simply grading, especially when dealing with young students. It’s also only sensible to add an extra part if the project seems to call for it. Web quest instructions should be clear, and their topics creative. These goals far outweigh strict adherence to the suggested format.

Types of Web Quests

There are two basic types of web quests, which are based on the duration of the project. Short term web quests are of a duration of one to three class periods. They provide fast exposure to new material. The goal is for students to acquire and integrate new knowledge quickly, and gain an overview of a new subject. Long term web quests extend and refine the knowledge gained, providing a much deeper analysis of the subject matter. At the end of a long term web quest students should be able to form their own opinions and theories based on the knowledge and comprehend fully most aspects of the subject. They should be able to present a range of ideas involving the subject matter and present projects and reports which show a depth of understanding and conclusions they have developed. Long term quests can take at least one week and up to a month in a classroom setting.

Building a Web Quest

Web quests start with an idea and are often born of necessity. If the text book does not cover a subject well, or if recent discoveries have made a science book for example obsolete in an area, a web quest is called for. Often teachers create a web quest based on their passions as well, and a need to share information they feel is important with their students.

A web quest should be creative and fun for students. This is easy when the teacher is passionate about the subject matter. A scenario should be developed in which the information required would be of the upmost necessity and urgency. This scenario should be referenced frequently throughout the parts of the web quest in order to maintain the feeling of actually going on a quest, which should feel like a treasure hunt or other exciting adventure for the students.

Once the concept is conceived the rest is simple. Compile a list of reliable links, weave them through the tasks section and repeat them in resources. Write the introduction, and plan how important each aspect of the project should be to the final grade for each student. Make a chart for your grading system which outlines the requirements, and then write a compelling conclusion. The important thing is that students have fun learning something that the instructor feels is vital to their education. Web quests should be memorable and exciting so the main point is having fun while learning.

A web quest should be written entirely in the second person. This format engages the student in the process.

Evaluating Web Quests

Evaluating web quests is traditionally done on the principle of rubrics, and below are several rubrics guides for assessing the skill with which a web quest was constructed. However a few other practical considerations need to be considered, including a quick check of all the links to make sure they still work, and an assessment of whether the task is age and grade level appropriate for a given group of students.

Web Quest Examples

A vast array of web quests have been created since 1995, and many of them can be viewed online. There are collections which can be used by other instructors, or viewed as examples. It is best to look at many web quests as an inspiration in creating the perfect adventure for students.