WebQuest: A Tool for
Motivating High School Physical Science Students.
Instructional Technology Monographs 3 (2).
Retrieved<insert date>, from
WebQuest: A Tool for
Motivating High School Physical Science Students
University of Georgia
The purpose of this study was
to compare the motivation of students that are present in a
constructivist (active) learning environment with that of students who
learn in a “traditional” type (passive) lecture
environment. The study compared two technical level physical
science classrooms. The experimental class was taught using a
constructivist strategy, WebQuests, and the control class used more
teacher centered lecture based formats. Surveys, journals,
and pretest/posttest scores were used to evaluate student attitudes and
progress during the investigation. Motivation towards the
subject matter was noticeably higher with the constructivist
classroom. Students showed accountability for their actions
and quality of work. The WebQuest helped to provide an
interactive and meaningful learning environment for the
students. It showed how science education can focus on
content by using a problem solving approach that help the students
experience and respond to relevant issues.
As a fourth year teacher I
constantly try to reinvent my teaching strategies in order to better
suit the students. I am lucky enough to have access to
various types of technology, such as a mobile computer lab, smart
boards, LCD projectors, and TVators. I try to incorporate
this technology, but feel as if my students still have a passive role
within the classroom. Because of their passivity, I sense
that they are unmotivated and bored. I believe it is my job
as a teacher to do all that I can in order to help motivate the
students so that they will take responsibility for their learning.
I want to create an environment where the students are
excited about science. I would love for an observer to come
in my room and see a student centered environment, where they are
actively involved and learning.
Shifting teacher styles from a
traditional, teacher centered classroom to a student centered classroom
would allow the students to take charge of their learning.
However, in order for the students to embrace their role within a
student centered classroom they must be motivated to learn.
Steering students away from memorization of facts and towards concept
based learning helps to promote motivation within a classroom
(McCluskey, Parish, & Thomas, 1996). Through concept
based learning the students are learning concepts that have meaning to
them and they can use them in real-life scenarios.
When trying to find a trigger to help increase student motivation
within a classroom, reforms in education have tried to address
classroom problems. According to Dalgarno (2001), the shift
toward constructivist learning can be attributed to the transition from
the behaviorist point of view to the cognitive point of view.
This suggests that teaching strategies are moving away from
“repetitive condition of learner responses” into
placing emphasis on the “learner’s cognitive
ability” (Dalgarno, 2001, p. 184). “Many
of these [constructivist] concepts have been reflected in the
work of Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, and other significant
educational theorists and researchers” (Harris &
Graham, 1994, p. 233).
As emphasis is being placed on
cognitive ability, an alternative view point known as constructivism
has developed. This type of teaching focuses on the idea that
there is not one correct answer. There could be several
individually constructed answers, each of which is just as valid as the
next. The teaching strategy focuses on guiding students in a
learner-centered environment and allowing them to develop and change
their current knowledge. Instructional approaches focus on
“cognitively guided instruction, scaffolded instruction, and
directed discovery” (Harris & Graham, 1994, p.
233). The focus of constructivist teaching is
“placed on knowledge construction rather than knowledge
transmission” (Dalgarno, 2001, p. 184).
In 1995, Bernie Dodge with Tom
March developed WebQuests with hopes of to create an inquiry-based tool
that allows learners to interact with Internet resources in order to
gain knowledge through a guided learning environment. The
intent of WebQuest development is to have a web based instructional
tool that allows for inquiry based learning activities that will engage
higher order thinking skills (Dodge & Molebash, 2003).
The purpose of this study was
to explore the differences in student attitudes and motivations, when
exposed to two different styles of learning. This study
explored the depth of student motivation in a constructivist classroom
environment with a more traditional teacher-centered classroom
environment. This study used Webquest as a constructivist
strategy. I found no research that names a WebQuest as a constructivist
activity, however many of the principles that Dodge believes a WebQuest
should feature coincide perfectly with the constructivist foundation,
as I will discuss in my literature review.
A constructivist learning
environment is based on students taking control of their
learning. Through constructivism, the students are learning
concepts that have purpose to them which they can use in a real-life
scenario. Harris and Grahm (1994) describe students in a
constructivist environment as, “self-regulating learners who
construct knowledge in developmentally appropriate ways while
interacting with a perceived world” (p. 234).
Vermette et al. (2001) attempt to link constructivism to other more
widely shared concepts. Within a constructivist environment,
students are given options with their assignments and
assessments. They have differentiated learning where they can
choose the best way to facilitate their learning. Students
are able to create new understandings of their prior knowledge and
connect it with their newly found knowledge. Constructivism
encourages “scaffolding to take place in the form of
questions, prompts, suggested tasks, available resources, challenges,
and classroom activities” (p. 89). Another
important aspect of constructivist strategies is the collaboration that
can take place within specific opportunities. Such
opportunities include using cooperative problem solving that allows
students to build motivation depending on group
accountability. Motivation is also peaked when the relevance
of an assignment is made apparent to the students. Students
are asked to use inquiry-based reasoning in order to solve a
problem. This problem-based learning helps students to take
responsibility for their own learning. When
students participate fully in their own learning, it is believed that
the knowledge acquired reaches a deeper, more relevant understanding,
thereby leading towards knowledge application (Harris& Graham,
Chang, Sung, and Lee’s (2003) findings help to support the
principles of constructivism. They found that when using an
inquiry-based activity, students are not as motivated when the topic
was irrelevant to their lives. They also found that students
gained more knowledge and understanding when they were able to use a
combination of strategies. When collaborative learning,
inquiry learning, and concept mapping were all used, the student felt
more able to tailor the learning process in combination with a specific
Resources found on the World Wide Web can be used to help engage an
unmotivated student. However, it is important that the
technology being integrated serves as a means to meet the academic needs of the students and
that the resources engage students in higher levels of thinking.
WebQuests are web-based lessons that serve as a tool which allows
students to explore and gather information on their own.
How do WebQuests Serve to Meet
The intent for WebQuests is
for students of all ages. Engagement of high order thinking
skills is a necessity for any type of student. WebQuests help
more mature students prepare for what is to be expected of them in
their future. Peterson, Caverly, and MacDonald (2003)
categorize WebQuests into four different topics. The first
category uses WebQuests to introduce a new course or to investigate
career options. By using WebQuests to this degree, learners
are able to explore websites in search of real-world
applications. The second category uses WebQuests as an
inquiry tool. Through WebQuests, learners develop skills in
how to “ask good questions about phenomena” (p.
38). The third category uses WebQuests in a problem based
learning environment (PBL). A WebQuest could be set up in the
format that has students investigate problems that are relevant to
their lives. A PBL type WebQuest should allow for students to
discuss their prior knowledge with their classmates in order to
generate a hypothesis based on that knowledge. The fourth
category allows learners the opportunity to create a
WebQuest. This gives them the opportunity to see the
importance of “identifying a meaningful problem, crafting
guiding questions, and selecting key websites,”
Peterson, et al.(2003), believes that usage of WebQuests in any of
these areas can lead students towards further knowledge acquisition.
Zhengl et al.(2005), discusses the four different learner constructs,
characterized by Dodge, that support WebQuest learning: critical
thinking, knowledge application, social skills, and the scaffolded
learner. Critical thinking is important in WebQuests because
it allows the learner to be self-directed. The goal of a
WebQuest is to have students analyze information, make it their own,
and demonstrate their knowledge by creating an artifact that is
important to them and can be used as a real-life application.
Once knowledge is attained within a WebQuest, it is then applied to
solve a problem. Knowledge application is a key construct
when using WebQuests. True learning can be assessed by how
students are able to use the concepts learned. The WebQuest design
allows for students to engage in problem solving tactics which help to
establish a deep learning and understanding of the material.
WebQuests foster social skills by encouraging group
accountability. The structured design of a WebQuest supports
the practice of scaffolding in a classroom. Students get out
of a task what they put in with the scaffolding approach.
Figure 1 shows a sample task, where the students are given their
assignment in a problem based manor that helps encourage student
Figure 1. Screen Shot of a
Should an Effective WebQuest Include?
previously created WebQuest is an option, but before implementation it
must be reviewed and researched. Teachers need to pay close
attention to the practical aspects of WebQuest
implementation. Lipscomb (2003) developed a list of
suggestions for wise choices of existing WebQuests, which includes looking out for design
pitfalls, such as aesthetically pleasing WebQuests which lack
substance. Lipscomb adds to make sure WebQuests are organized
in a way to make navigation easy for students. Secondly, it
is necessary to gauge a student’s level of technology
proficiency. Some students may need more guidance as they
learn how to maneuver through the various sites. Making
assessments clear to the students is another strategy
emphasized. Students need to know upfront what will be
expected of them as they complete the WebQuest. It is a good
idea to allow peer evaluations to take place, as well as teacher
Peterson et al. (2003) suggests several helpful strategies on how to
build a successful WebQuest. A designer will have to have
access to a web-building program. The beginning of a WebQuest
should intrigue a student. Creation of a story or scenario
that motivates a student to apply their topic to a real-life situation
shows them the relevance. Once a topic for the WebQuest is
selected, the designer then has to create objectives for
learning. It is helpful to provide guiding questions for the
students to use. as they begin to learn
independently the facets of their
topic. The WebQuest will end with a creative product that
should show the knowledge gained by the student. The goal of
the product is to engage students to use their resources in order to
draw conclusions. It is also suggested that the instructor
help students gather information from the web, arrange the findings
through organizational means, and present the information
Once the selection or design of a WebQuest has been made, even further
research must be done in order to make sure the chosen WebQuests will
have an effective and positive outcome with the learners. It
is important to understand the concerns and pitfalls that await some
WebQuest users. Zheng, et al. (2005), show that
“when teachers create WebQuests, they need to shift from
creating prescriptive learning situations to developing environments
that engage learners and require them to solve problems and construct
knowledge that is most meaningful to them” (p. 47).
WebQuests have the potential to be an outstanding tool; however, issues
have been raised concerning the effectiveness of WebQuest use within a
classroom. Zheng, et al. (2005), identifies that some
researchers and classroom teachers are concerned with the inconsistent
implementation of WebQuests into the curriculum. Teachers
that use WebQuests as electronic worksheets or URL resources are
limiting the learners’ ability to problem solve, work within
cooperative groups, scaffold, and learn using inquiry.
Teachers who implement WebQuests to this extent are taking a step
backward into the more traditional style. The benefits that
WebQuests bring are not being used to their potential and the students
are forced back into the rote memorization style of teaching.
A study performed by MacGregor and Lou (2005) revealed other concerns
with WebQuest activities. They suggest that the simple act of
having Internet accessibility has no impact on student achievement
scores. Students need more than just exposure to the Internet
in order create a deeper learning. Issues that are related
with WebQuest activities include the fact that some students can
navigate through a web site but are unable to decipher relevant
information needed to solve their problem.
MacGregor and Lou’s (2005) study mentions a previously
performed study that they developed with two sets of pre-service
teachers implementing a WebQuest. “During the
implementation, students found that their assistance was needed by the
children more frequently than they expected. Many of them
commented about this experience and felt that they needed to design
their WebQuest more carefully and provide more supporting activities
and materials” (p. 163). These data support the
information presented by Zheng, et al. (2005) that WebQuest
effectiveness is based on design. Without well-planned design
strategies, WebQuests can be a technologically advanced scavenger
MacGregor and Lou’s 2005 study was created to determine if
providing students with explicit procedures, while completing their
WebQuests, had an effect on the information the students
retained. Two groups of students completed a WebQuest that
taught them important features of their community. Both sets
were responsible for turning in a brochure that showed interesting
facts about their community. The first group of students
received a set of explicit procedures that identified what information
should be included and how that information could be organized within
the brochure. The other group was spared the explicit
procedures. The study revealed that the students who were
“given the explicit procedures acquired more community
knowledge and created higher quality brochures” (p.
164). The students who did not receive the set of procedures
spent more time browsing through different websites and continuously
navigated out of the WebQuest to external websites. This
study also supported the use of scaffolding tools such as study guides
and concept maps. The students were able to use these
documents as a self guide as they navigated through the
WebQuests offer an inquiry-based learning strategy that allows students
to analyze and decipher relevant information. The
effectiveness of WebQuests increases when students have more direction.
Supportive documents, such as scaffolding study guides and concept
mapping templates, aids students as they engage in student-centered
WebQuests can be used to
enhance problem-based learning. Gallagher, Stepian, and
William (1995) suggest that in order to create an effective problem
based learning implementation, the student must confront an
“ill-structured problem” (p. 44). An
ill-structured problem lacks the information necessary to solve the
problem. It is important that, when teaching with
problem-based strategies, the learning takes place after the problem
has been chosen. Many paths should exist in order to answer
the problem. This provides students with open ended choice of
problem solving avenues.
With a further understanding of the WebQuest constructs that support
constructivist problem solving, the more a teacher can practice
constructivism. Teachers, who are already familiar with and/or use
constructivist strategies within their classrooms, will be able to use
that knowledge in WebQuest creations. When teachers have a
basic understanding of the constructivist concept, the incorporation of
WebQuests can create an outlet that encourages critical thinking,
promotes cooperative learning, and increases the usage of higher level
According to Dodge and Molebash (2003), the most important part of the
WebQuest is the task section. The best type of WebQuest will
“require a high level of synthesis, judgment, analysis,
creativity or problem-solving” (p. 67). This
section provides the opportunity for students to take responsibility
for their learning.
According to the research I
explored, if designed efficiently and used properly, WebQuests can create a
wonderful bridge between constructivist strategies and
technology. Constructivist principles help to show students
the relevance within a subject. A constructivist environment
will help to increase student motivation and allow them to take control
of their learning. WebQuests are great constructivist
strategies that allow students to guide their learning. A
WebQuest is designed to be inquiry based and student
oriented. Encouraging students to take an interest in their
learning and showing subject matter relevance will increase their
motivation to learn.
The purpose of this study is to assess how physical science students
react to a constructivist classroom, via a WebQuest activity, compared
to a class that is exposed to a teacher-centered lecture style
atmosphere. This study was conducted to determine whether a
constructivist environment has a positive effect on students in order
to help increase motivation and understanding amongst my technical
Context and Participants
The study took take place at a rural high school in northeast
Georgia. The school has an enrollment of approximately 1,400
students, a majority of whom come from lower to middle socio-economic
families. The participants in this study include 37
voluntary, ninth grade, tech-level, physical science students (see,
Table 1 and Chart 1). Each participant was given a consent
form which they signed and had signed parent or guardian (see Appendix
(n = 15)
(n = 22)
The study was performed for seven days on a four-by-four semester block
for an hour and a half. The topics for the lessons cover the
uses of nuclear energy. The topic meets Georgia Performance
Standard 3d: Describe nuclear energy, its practical applications as an
alternative energy source, and its potential problems.
No information was given to students relating to nuclear energy prior
to the testing. One class was taught the information through
a lectured-based, teacher-centered format. I taught the class
using the textbook and Cornell style notes. The WebQuest
class learned the same material, but with exposure to more points of
the seven days of the WebQuest, students were responsible for
participating in activities that follow constructivist principles (see
Appendix C). Both classrooms were taught in my physical science
classroom. However, the constructivist centered class has
access to laptops. Each class covered the exact same
material, but through different styles of learning.
The WebQuest was created based on research of constructivist principles
and effective WebQuest design. The WebQuest begins with students
learning that they are part of the County Research Team. They
have “received” a letter from the County Board
Members informing them to find the pros and cons of nuclear
energy. They learn there is a chance that a nuclear power
plant may be built near their town and they must find the problems and
benefits that it has to offer. The students were asked to
research nuclear energy and decide on a unified opinion to share before
the board at the next city council meeting.
This scenario provides
motivation to the students because it is based on something they care
about, their city. The WebQuest was arranged to encourage collaboration
among group members. Each member was given the option to pick
one of four different student roles including: the historian,
environmentalist, economist, and the scientist. They were
allowed to read through the criteria of each role and pick the role
that best suited their individual needs. Questions were
provided as guides to help the students discover new information about
their role. Each member was held accountable for learning
about his/her role. In order to accommodate the scaffolding
strategy, students researched individually and brought their opinion
about nuclear energy to their group. The group listened to
each member’s opinion and decided on a unified opinion to
present before the city board meeting. This allowed for the
students to describe what they learn to listen to other group members.
Students were able to use their prior knowledge and their new found
knowledge to make a unified decision.
An identical pretest was given
to each class to identify
prior knowledge of the students (see, Appendix B). The same
test was given at the end of the unit in order to track
improvement. Improvement on those tests and posttest scores
within each group were analyzed in order to note any significant
difference between the two classes. Once again, results were
analyzed to note differences in the quality of work between the two
A Likert-type survey was given to both groups to determine whether
positive or negative attitudes were experienced throughout the
different lessons. Open-ended questions were provided to the
WebQuest classroom in order to analyze their feelings on using the
WebQuest activity. A journal was kept from the beginning of
the study in order to record student observations. I noted
what the agenda was for each class everyday and jotted down comments
that I overheard the students saying. Notation was also made
on how well the students interacted together and how well they stayed
on task. I made reference to student participation and
A descriptive analysis to
compute mean and standard deviation for each group’s posttest
was used. A T-ratio was used to find the level of
significance between the posttest in the two groups. A
journal was kept in order to note attitudes and motivation during the
different treatments. A Likert Survey was given to both
groups in order to determine their opinions towards the two different
learning styles. Open-ended discussion questions were given
to the WebQuest class in order to provide them with an opportunity to
discuss their view about learning with WebQuests.
of the Study
More research should be done to address the various methods of
gathering data towards student motivation and the effectiveness of
WebQuests. Much of the research found deals with what is
needed to create an effective WebQuest. There was a lack of
information found on the methodologies and variables used to actually
test this effectiveness. Only the technical level
classes were involved in this study in order to control experimental
conditions. Therefore, it is important to realize that the
findings from this study are not a generalization for all students in
my classes or in the school. During this research, I
identified my biases up front. I have used my prior teaching knowledge
in the creation of the WebQuest. Since I developed the
WebQuest, I tried to make sure my anticipation of its success
doesn’t create a bias for the data interpretation.
In order to prevent any misinterpretations, I used numerical
information from multiple-choice pre- and post-tests. I also used the
same rubric when grading projects from each class. As I kept
the journals I did not form judgment. I simply wrote down
what I observed and analyzed the journals after the
At the end of this research study, data was gathered through various
means of assessments. The major research question in this
study is: How does a constructivist learning environment effect
physical science learning? Sub-questions include:
Does a constructivist
environment increase student motivation?
Does the WebQuest meet the
needs of a constructivist environment?
What should an effective
Is there a significant
difference in the pre- and post-test scores between the two classes?
How does the quality of the
students’ work differ between the two classes?
Results and Discussion
Qualitative data was collected
by measuring student motivation through teacher based observations and
surveys. A journal was kept everyday in order to record
student interactions and observations (see Appendix D). All
participants were asked to fill out different surveys. The
surveys included questions that were measured based on the 5-point
Likert scale (see Table 2 &3). The WebQuest class rated their
opinions on WebQuest, while the teacher-centered class rated their
opinions on their experiences with note taking and lectures.
In addition to the Likert scale, the WebQuest class was asked to answer
open-ended questions about their experience with the WebQuest (see
Average 5 Point Likert Scale
Survey for the Lecture-Based Class
Fill out the following
information on a scale from 1 to 5.
(Strongly agree 1-2-3-4-5
1.) Notes and teacher
lectures help to prepare me for the test.
2.) I learn the material from
taking notes and listening to the teacher lecture.
3.) I enjoy working in groups
on a problem, it helps me to learn.
4.) Taking notes helps me to
learn the material.
5.) Giving presentations to
the class about the assigned topic helps me to understand the
6.) I would prefer
to learn the material through other means than taking notes and
listening to lectures.
7.) Notes and teacher
lectures make me excited to learn.
8.) I am motivated to do my
school work when I am excited about my topic.
Average 5 Point Likert Scale
Survey for the WebQuest Class
Fill out the following
information on a scale from 1 to 5.
(Strongly agree 1-2-3-4-5
1.) The WebQuest helped me
prepare for the test.
2.) The WebQuest helped me
learn the material.
3.) Working in groups on the
presented problem made the material seem more interesting.
4.) Taking notes helps me to
learn the material better than the WebQuest.
5.) By presenting
my opinion to the class I could understand everyone else’s
6.) I prefer working on the
WebQuest more than taking notes and listening to lectures.
7.) I was excited to be
working on the WebQuest for the entire week.
8.) The WebQuest
motivated me to do my work.
The Likert scaled surveys
showed participants’ reactions for test preparation,
preferred learning style, and motivation. Both groups agreed
that their individual learning environment helped them to learn the
material and prepare them for the unit test. The
lecture-based group agreed that they prefer to learn the material
through other means than taking notes and the WebQuest group agreed
that they preferred working on the WebQuest more than taking
notes. Both groups agreed that motivation towards their
schoolwork comes when they feel excited about their subject.
The lecture-based students were not excited when asked to take notes
and listen to lectures. The WebQuest class agreed that the
WebQuest excited them for the entire week.
These results show that the students wanted to learn and felt they
could learn when they were engaged with the material. Student
engagement was evident with the WebQuest activity. Once the WebQuest
class realized that their schedule for the week included working on the
WebQuest activity they arrived into the classroom like a well-oiled
machine. Two students were in charge of getting the assigned
computers distributed while another student passed around the WebQuest
CDs. The other class members waited patiently and talked
quietly until their items had been handed to them. Once they
received their computer they immediately began booting up the CD and
opening the WebQuest folder to begin work. They knew what was
expected of them each day and they new their end goal. The
students came in everyday anxious to begin work on the next task within
the WebQuest, while it was a constant struggle to get the lecture-based
class seated and ready to begin each day.
The students enjoyed debating
with each other about their picked role within the WebQuest.
One student commented, “Can we just pick both
sides? It is hard to make a decision about whether it
[nuclear energy] is good or bad.” The students
found the WebQuest challenging and exciting. The day of the
presentations, the students were able to comment on the opinions
presented in the discussions. Many of the students began
heated discussions about their opinions, based on the learned
The lecture-based classroom
created and presented a poster on the pros and cons of nuclear
energy. The students’ main resource for information
came from their text books. Due to the fact that the students
were limited to their exposure of information, their opinions for
nuclear energy did not vary. The lack of varied opinions
resulted in poor presentations and discussions
The open-ended survey given to the WebQuest classroom showed an
incredibly positive response towards the use of the WebQuest (see
Appendix E). The students showed an excitement through
learning in their groups, “I had a lot of fun discussing
topics.” The majority of the students felt like they learned
a lot from the WebQuest while they were having fun, “It gave
me an experience to learn new things.” Student accountability
was demonstrated through their actions and comments, “You
were responsible for your own work to give to the
group.” One student in particular was caught
skipping school for three consecutive days. He commented in
his open-ended questionnaire, “I wouldn’t skip
school to get my group worried.” He felt a true
responsibility for being at school during the WebQuest
activity. He knew that his group would be counting on him and
he didn’t want to let them down. This shows a true
accountability within the group of people with which he was
working. His situation is an example of how powerful a
meaningful activity can be for some students.
The difference in the quality
of the group presentation was astounding. The lecture-based
group recited many facts from the text book and show very little
enthusiasm for what they were presenting. However, when the
WebQuest group began with their presentations they first discussed
their opinion on using nuclear energy. Once their opinion was
made clear, there was whispering and mumbling throughout the classroom
from the students that disagreed with their opinion. This
showed that some students developed a passion for what they
learned. They were frustrated that some students disagreed
with their opinion. It was nice to see that the students
cared enough about what they were learning to show signs of frustration
with differing opinions. At the end of the presentation the
students could ask the group questions about their
presentations. The WebQuest group brought up points that they
had researched. The presenters were able to justify their
position with factual information that had discovered. It was
very exciting to be a part of an environment when the students were
getting heated with one another over school work.
Quantitative data was
collected using a pretest and a posttest, administered before and after
the treatment was performed. Percent improvement was
calculated for each group. A descriptive analysis
was conducted to compute each group’s mean and standard
deviation. A t-test was conducted to detect the group
The mean posttest score for
the lecture-based group (M=70, SD=8.3) and the WebQuest class (M=72,
SD=13.47) showed a high standard deviation. High standard
deviation among these test results show there is a lot of variability
within the posttest scores. The t-test is t= .57 and p= 2.365
is not significant at the .05 level. Therefore, it can be
concluded that there is no significant difference between the two
groups of students based on their posttest scores.
Statistics on Means and Standard Deviations for both groups.
Mean Percent Improvement
Due to the fact that no significant difference was found between the
pretest and posttest scores correlates with the Likert Survey
results. Both classrooms felt that they could learn the
material with the different teaching styles and neither group out
performed the other on the tests. The teaching method did not
affect the short-term retention for either classroom.
However, the interest in the subject matter was definitely peaked with
the WebQuest classroom. Student comments suggested that
through using the WebQuest they actually enjoyed learning and using the
information. The quality of the group presentations improved
with the WebQuest classroom. Reasons for these results could
arise from group motivation. Students within the WebQuest
classroom felt an accountability for their group. An
intrinsic motivation to support their group members and provide them
with high quality work helped to drive several students’
In conclusion, the constructivist environment affected physical science
learning in a positive manner. Student motivation and group
accountability were heightened within the WebQuest classroom.
The findings of this study indicate that a WebQuest can serve as an
adequate constructivist strategy. WebQuests meet the needs of
a constructivist environment by improving motivation by building
student accountability, using cooperative problem solving, and
encouraging scaffolding through suggested task questions. The
WebQuest provided the students with a self-regulated learning
environment. They knew the final goal, but the strategies and
time management to get to that goal were individualized to each
student. The students were presented with the assignment as
if they were responsible for a nuclear power plant being built in the
county. This situation is somewhat relevant to these students
because there is a nuclear power plant within an hour’s drive
of their school. Setting the WebQuest in a problem-based
format helped the student to acknowledge the relevance of what they
would be learning. Scaffolding took place within the
WebQuest. The students first were given an assignment that
did not allow much freedom for learning. However, it gave the
students familiarity with the project at hand. As the student
began to gain confidence with the assignment my guidance was reduced
and student to student collaboration increased. The
accountability that the students felt for each other in the WebQuest
classroom was encouraging. The quality of work presented
WebQuest group was much higher than the lecture-based group.
These students used a variety of information in order to form their
opinions. The students were also able to recite factual information
when debating with their fellow classmates. No significant
difference was found between the posttest scores of each
Administration at most any school is concerned with
“numbers.” Teachers need to make sure
that students are passing state standardized tests; certain percentages
of students are passing your class, and graduating. Looking
at the test scores from this study could prove to be disconcerting for
some administration. Technology resources were needed for
this project, yet there was no significant difference in the class
averages on the tests. Some might look at these results and
think that technology is a waste of time and money. What is
important to note from the findings is that student motivation within
the WebQuest classroom increased. By increasing student
motivation and excitement towards learning at this stage in the
student’s life increases the likeliness that they will be
life long learners.
Chang, K.E., &
Sung, Y.T., & Lee, C.L. (2003). Web-based
learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning,
(2001). Interpretations of constructivism and consequences
for computer assisted learning. British
Journal of Educational Technology, 32, 183-194.
Dodge, B, &
Molebash, P.E. Scaffolding Inquiry Using WebQuests and Web
Projects. Social Education, 67, 63-76.
Shelagh, A., & William, J., (1995). Implementing
problem-based learning in science
School Science & Mathematics, 95, 42-56.
Gibson, S., &
Skaalid, B. (2004). Teacher professional development to
promote constructivist uses of the
internet: A study of one graduate-level course. Journal
of Technology and Teacher Education, 12, 577-592.
Harris, K., &
Graham, S. (1994). Constructivism: Principles, paradigms, and
Journal of Special Education, 28, 233-248.
(2004). Using the Internet to develop students’
capacity for scientific inquiry.
Educational Computing Research, 31, 137-161,
Lipscomb, G. (2003).
“I guess it was pretty fun:” Using Webquests in the
Middle School Classroom. The Clearing House,
& Yiping, L., (2005). Web-based learning: How task
scaffolding and web site
design support knowledge acquisition. Journal of
Technology in Education, 39, 161-175.
& Parish, T., (1996). Motivating
unmotivated college students:
Applying Glasser’s quality school teacher techniques. College
Student Journal, 30, 19-24.
& Caverly, D.C., & MacDonald, L. (2003).
literacy through WebQuests.
Journal of Developmental Education, 26,
(2005). An exploration of students’ strategy use in
supported collaborative learning. Journal of
Computer Assisted Learning, 21,
& Foote, C., & Bird, C., & Mesibov, D.,
& Harris-Ewing, S., & Battaglia, C. (2001).
Understanding constructivism(s): A primer for parents and school board
members. Education, 122, 87-93.
Zheng, R., &
Stucky, B., & McAlack, M., & Mernchana, M., &
Stoddart, S., (2005).
WebQuest learning as perceived by higher education learners. TechTrends,
Parent Consent Form
___________________________, agree to allow my child
_____________________, take part in a research study titled,
“Constructivist Strategies as a Tool for Motivating High
School Physical Science Students”, which is being conducted
by Mrs. Kristen Sabo, from the Instructional Technology Department at
the University of Georgia (706-795-2197) under the direction of Dr.
Michael Orey, Department of Instructional Technology, University of
The reason for the study is to find out
if integration of technology through the usage of WebQuests is
effective in student motivation and achievement. A WebQuest
is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information
used by students is online. All internet links will be
provided and supervised by the teacher.
• The research is not expected
to cause any harm or discomfort. I understand that my participation is
voluntary. I can refuse to participate and stop taking part at any time
without giving any reason, and without penalty. I can ask to have all
of the information about my child returned to me, removed from the
research records, or destroyed. My child’s grade will not be
affected if I decide to stop taking part in the research.
• The study will be conducted for approximately 2 weeks.
Throughout the duration of the study I may be asked to complete a
survey and/or participate in an interview.
• Information collected will
include pretest/posttest results, student surveys, journal observation,
and assigned activity results. Any information collected
about me will be held confidential unless otherwise required by law. My
identity will be coded, and all data will be kept in a secured
location. Video footage will be used in assistance with
observations however; all video footage will be destroyed at the close
of the study.
• The researcher will answer
any questions about the research, now or during the course of the
project, and can be reached by telephone or by email. I may
also contact the professor supervising the research, Dr. Michael Orey,
Instructional Technology Department, at (706) 542-4028.
Additional questions or problems
regarding your rights as a research participant should be addressed to
Chris A. Joseph, Ph.D. Human Subjects Office, University of Georgia,
612 Boyd Graduate Studies Research Center, Athens, Georgia 30602-7411;
Telephone (706) 542-3199; E-Mail Address: IRB@uga.edu
I understand the study procedures
described above. My questions have been answered to my satisfaction,
and I agree to take part in this study. I have been given a copy of
this form to keep.
__I DO give permission to you to
reproduce responses that I may produce as part of surveys or
questionnaires. No names will appear on any materials submitted by the
__I DO NOT give permission to reproduce
responses that I may produce as part of surveys or questionnaires.
Name of Researcher
Name of Participant
Please sign both copies, keep one
and return one to the researcher.
the letter of the choice that best completes the statement or answers
1. When the strong force is not sufficient to hold
unstable nuclei together permanently, ____.
fusion occurs b. a solid becomes a
liquid c. the nuclei
decay d. carbon-12 changes into carbon-14
2. The stability of an isotope nucleus depends on
mass b. atomic number
c. number of neutrons
d. neutron-to-proton ratio
3. Both a fusion reaction and a fission reaction
chain reactions b. produce
energy c. take place at room
temperature d. use hydrogen as a fuel
4. Neutrons released in a fission reaction can
strike other nuclei and cause ____.
chain reaction b. an electron
avalanche c. fusion
reactions d. radioactive decay
5. When the ____ is not large enough to hold a
nucleus together tightly, the nucleus can become radioactive.
force b. strong force
c. tracer d. isotope
6. Unwanted radioactive products formed during
nuclear reactions are called ____.
fuels b. nuclear fuels
c. nuclear reactors d. nuclear
7. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are the three
kinds of ____.
fuels b. nuclear fuels
c. nuclear waste d. synthetic
8. The chain reaction in a nuclear reactor is
controlled by inserting the ____.
or cadmium rods
b. core c. heat
exchanger d. uranium
9. Temperature is the biggest challenge in using
____ as an energy source.
fusion b. nuclear
c. hydroelectricity d. tidal
10. One reason alternative energy sources are
needed is because ____.
energy needs of the world are decreasing
b. there is no limit to the supply of fossil
fuels c. the population of the world is
decreasing d. the supply of fossil fuel is
11. Which of the following is common to both
nuclear fusion and nuclear fission?
chain reaction is needed to start the reaction.
b. The fuel must be in the plasma state.
c. Matter is converted into energy.
d. Temperatures over 1 million ºC are needed for the
reaction to occur.
12. Which of the following is an example of a
nonrenewable source of energy?
b. the Sun
c. water d. wind
13. The fuel used in a nuclear reactor usually
comes from ____.
c. coal d. biomass
14. ____ offer the best hope for safe, long-term
containment of radioactive wastes.
depths b. Salt lakes
c. Polar ice caps d. Deep, stable
15. What holds the protons and neutrons together in
b. gravity c. weak nuclear
force d. electric force
16. According to the information in the chart which
picture best represents nuclear fission?
fission of uranium-235 can start a chain reaction by
enough heat energy to start nuclear fission in neighboring
atoms b. producing two smaller atoms that
can then strike and split neighboring atoms
c. producing neutrons that can then strike and split
neighboring atoms d. combining two atoms
with low mass to form one large atom
18. The diagram shows a typical nuclear power
plant. When a neutron strikes a U-235 nucleus, the nucleus
splits into two smaller nuclei and a few neutrons. What
structure absorbs most of the neutrons produced so that a controlled
chain reaction occurs?
structure b. control
rods c. reactor vessel
d. turbine and generator
graphs show the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the
growth in fossil fuel consumption over a number of years. A
reasonable hypothesis based on these data is that if the consumption of
fossil fuel increases, then __________.
dioxide in the atmosphere will increase
b. carbon dioxide in the atomsphere will
decrease c. carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere will remain constant d. carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere will be converted to the more hazardous
20. Which of these energy sources produces the least
b. natural gas
21. Which of the following is not
a problem usually associated with nuclear energy.
of radioactive waste b. thermal pollution
of rivers and streams c. environmental
damage from mining and extraction of uranium
d. emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
22. Scientists predict that we might deplete all of
our petroleum resources by the middle of this century. Do you
think that nuclear energy would be a practical choice for an alternate
WebQuest Screen Shots
introduction gave the students an overview of the WebQuest.
It described what their role in the project would be and what was found
in each section of the WebQuest.
task section of the WebQuest sets up the problem that the students will
be in charge of solving. The screen shot shows the letter
that the students “received” and it describes their
- Handed out pretest –
some students finished in 5 minutes.
- Begin ppt notes over natural
Overheard students saying:
“Does this test
“Do we have to take
“I hate taking
I asked two students during
note taking to keep their head up.
- Handed out pretest
- Assigned laptops and
- Assigned groups
- Allowed time for students to
get familiar with the websites.
- Students began filling out the
“Is this test going
to be for a grade?”
“Yeah, we get to use
“I love working on
“I hate computers;
they never work when they are supposed to.”
Two people were assigned to
hand out computers and to take up computers.
I had to monitor students to
make sure they knew how to maneuver through the website.
I answered small questions
about the website.
- Notes over alternate energy
- Students read an article on
Chernobyl nuclear power accident and had to write their reflections on
“Ugh, we always have
to take notes.”
“Do we have to read
out loud? I hate reading out loud.”
The class participated, but
did not seem enthusiastic about the given assignments.
- Students finished the overview
- Students pick their role
- Began researching and writing
their opinion piece to go into the newspaper
The students that were in
charge of handing out the computers did their job
efficiently. The other students waited patiently as their
computer was delivered to them. Once the students got the
computers they immediately began to boot up the CD and began to
work. They needed very little assistance from the teacher to
just pick both sides? It is hard to make a decision about
whether it is good or bad.”
- Notes over the pros and cons
of nuclear energy.
- Students discussed the
previous day’s article
- Broken into groups &
assigned a poster to create
As the students walk in it
takes time to get them to settle down and ready for the day’s
assignment. I picked the groups for the students.
The assignment was for the students to describe different alternative
energy sources and the pros and cons of nuclear energy.
Students were excited to be able to work in groups. Students
worked well together. Encouragement to stay on task was given
in order to keep the students focused on their assignment.
The main resource used for the poster cam from the students’
- Students finish their opinion
- Students decide within their
group which side their group will take
- Students begin researching
their role to present to their group
Students need very little
guidance to stay on task. Questions dealing with information
from the website were answered as the students worked.
Discussions within the group were on task and showed that the students
were thinking about their opinions.
- Students took the day to
finish their posters and their research.
- Students were asked to write
about their opinion on whether nuclear energy should or should not be
Posters didn’t have
added research. Information came solely from the
book. The majority of the opinions were against the uses of
nuclear energy. Many of the opinions brought reference to the
- Students continue researching
- Discussions amongst team
increase and they begin to work on their display board.
Students still have a great
transition from the moment they step into the classroom as they wait
for their computers. Once they get their computer they
immediately begin work. Supplies were given to the students
to allow them to begin work on their display board. Group
discussions were on task and it was interesting to hear each student
supporting his/her opinion. Some students became heated about
their opinion and tried hard to make sure that every person in their
group saw their view point.
- Students presented their
posters and each person expressed his/her view point about nuclear
Students within a group varied
in their opinions about nuclear energy. The reasons for their
opinions became repetitive, because their opinions were based on book
- Wrap-up day
- Students finish their display
- Students practice their speech
Students worked diligently to
finish their work on time. They practiced around the room and
timed each other to make sure the group presentation lasted at least 7
minutes. Some were nervous about presenting their information
to the class; however group members encourage each other through out
- Review day- students reviewed
for the test the next day. A Jeopardy game was used to help
review the students.
Students enjoy the review
game. They participated well. It was apparent that
some students knew the information much better than other students.
- Students present their display
board and their 7 minute speeches
- Students fill out 2 surveys
At the end of the
presentations students were given approximately one minute to field
questions from the rest of the class. There were good
discussions. Many of the groups that had different opinions
began to bring up their point of views. Debates were on task
and showed various research information that the students had
take the posttest
answer question on the test – Do you think that nuclear
energy is good alternate energy source? Explain.
Students took their time on
10 out of 15 students just
answered with a yes or no. They gave no explanation of their
- Students take the posttest
- Short answer question on the
test – Do you think that nuclear energy is good alternate
energy source? Explain.
Students took their time on
2 out of 22 students answered
with a yes or no. They gave no explanation for their
given to WebQuest Group
1.) Describe your
experience while using the WebQuest computer lesson. Was it a
positive or a negative experience? Explain.
- “I learned a
- “A lot of fun
- “Liked having our
own computer and working independently and in groups.”
- “Your not just
taking notes once you have to read more than one source and then
it’s easier to remember.”
Negative – 0
Both (Positive &
Negative) – 4
- “It was OK, but it
could have been more fun.”
- “I learned something
new, but it was too difficult.”
- “Good because you
worked in groups and bad because it’s hard to find the
- “Easier to learn
without using a computer.”
2.) List two things
about the WebQuest activity that you liked and two things that you
- “Computers are
- “I learned good
- “I liked being able
to work in groups and independently.”
- “I like typing the
- “I liked picking my
- “I liked making my
- “You were
responsible for your own work to give the group.”
- “I didn’t
like writing the opinion piece.”
- “It was
- “I don’t
like that it was for a grade.”
- “Too many
- “Finding the
information was hard and so was presenting it.”
- “I didn’t
like going to different websites to find information.”
- “Having a bad
3.) Did you think
you learned more by researching information on your own through the
Yes – 17
- “I learn a lot
- “I learned
- “It didn’t
explain the information that much.”
4.) Did you enjoy
working in groups during this project?
Yes – 17
- “I got to know
people I didn’t know very well.”
- “It made learning
about nuclear energy easier.”
- “I work better in
- “It made it easier
to see if I was on the right track.”
No – 2
- “My group
wasn’t very good.”
Both – 3
- “Some people
didn’t do their stuff.”
5.) Would you want
to work on another WebQuest in the future? Why or why not?
Yes – 18
- “It was really fun
and I learned a lot.”
- “The next time it
will be easier for me.
- “I like looking up
things on the computer.”
- “It gave me an
experience to learn new things.”
- “I liked working in
wouldn’t skip school to get my group worried.”
easier to learn when you have to actually read it.”
No – 4
- “I learn better with
a teacher lecturing.”
- “I think it would be
- “It wasn’t