Information inquiry models
WebQuest, ThinkQuest, Trackstar,
Weblesson, Busca Tesoros.
ESL/EFL and Technology
"Is this test to find out what I know, or to find out what I
What is inquiry?
Inquiry (also enquiry) is any process that has the aim of
augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem.
"Inquiry" is defined as "a seeking for truth, information, or
knowledge -- seeking information by questioning." The process of
inquiring begins with gathering information and data through
applying the human senses -- seeing, hearing, touching, tasting,
Information inquiry models:
Levels of Inquiry
When considering inquiry activities, consider
the experiences and skills of your students.
There are four levels of inquiry (Callison).
Controlled. The teacher chooses the topic
and identifies materials that students will use
to address their questions. Students are often
involved with specific exercises and activities
to meet particular learning outcomes.
Students often have a specific product.
Guided. Students have more flexibility in their
resources and activities however they are
expected to create a prescribed final
product such as a report or presentation.
Levels of Inquiry
Modeled. Students act as apprentice to
a coach such as a classroom teacher.
The student has flexibility in terms of
topic selection, process, and product.
The educators and students work side-
by-side engaging in meaningful work.
Free. In a free inquiry, students work
independently. They explore meaningful
questions, examine multiple
perspectives, draw conclusions, and
choose their own approach for
What Research Says about Inquiry-Based Instruction
Inquiry skills require some form of hypothetical-deductive
reasoning as in Piagetian formal operations, and
students capable of using only concrete operational
thought cannot develop an understanding of formal
Students more easily learn observable ideas via inquiry-
based instruction than ideas considered theoretical. For
example, inquiry-based instruction is likely to be effective
for showing many students that chemical reaction rates
depend on the concentrations of reactants.
Most studies supported the collective conclusion that
inquiry-based instruction was equal or superior to other
instructional modes for students producing higher scores
on content achievement tests.
Inquiry-based instruction is probably most effective in
developing content achievement when the content is
more concrete than theoretical.
What Research Says about Inquiry-Based Instruction
To emphasize activities centered around operational questions,
that students can answer directly via investigation
To emphasize activities using materials and situations familiar to
To choose activities for which the teacher believes most of his
or her students already have the necessary prerequisite skills
and knowledge to succeed.
Evidence also suggests that students who are not challenged
mentally will not develop their cognitive abilities as much as
students who are challenged. On the other hand, if the activities
are too easy, the student will not develop better thinking skills.
Maximum learning probably occurs when the activities are "just
right"--cognitively challenging, but still doable. This implies, at
least in theory, a classroom where students may not all be doing
the same version of an activity at the same time.
What is a WebQuest?
A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson format in
which most or all the information that learners work
with comes from the web.
The model was developed by Bernie Dodge at San
Diego State University, Department of Educational
Technology in February, 1995.
Since those beginning days, tens of thousands of
teachers have embraced WebQuests as a way to
make good use of the internet while engaging their
students in the kinds of thinking that the 21st century
The model has spread around the world, with special
enthusiasm in Brazil, Spain, China, Australia and
WebQuests provide an authentic,
technology-rich environment for
use of Internet-based resources.
Critical attributes of a WebQuest include:
an introduction that sets the stage of the
a doable, interesting task
a set of information resources
a clear process
guidance and organizational frameworks
a conclusion that provides reflection and
WebQuest Theoretical Foundations
WebQuests are a learner-centered, drawing
on a variety of theories that include the
following areas (Lamb & Teclehaimanot,
critical and creative thinking, questioning,
understanding, and transformational learning
authenticity, meaningfulness, and situated
motivation, challenge and engaged learning
The WebQuest Design Process
Pick a topic that requires understanding, uses the
web well, fits curriculum standards, and has been
difficult to teach well.
Write up the Task in the student template and the
Standards and Learners in the teacher template.
Complete the Evaluation section in the student
template. Duplicate it in the teacher template and
add any extra information needed by teachers.
Flesh out the Process section by finding a focused
set of resources to provide the information needed
Complete the Introduction, Conclusion and
Credits section and all other parts of the teacher
template. Add graphics where appropriate.
Review the Elements
Focus on Introductions. Think about ways to introduce the project. The
introduction should motivate, set the stage, and provide background
information. Consider situations, pictures, quotes, poems, and songs to
establish the environment.
Create the Task. The task should be something doable and interesting. For
example, it could be a series of questions, summary to be created, problem
to be solved, position to be debated, or creative work..
Information Resources. What resources will students need to complete the
task? Select specific, appropriate resources such as web documents,
experts available via Internet, searchable net databases, books and other
documents, and real objects..
Processes. What process will students follow to complete the WebQuest?
Will you provide them with a list of activities, step-by-step instructions, or a
Learning Advice. Do you have any other advice for students? Do they need
to know how to organize information? Will you give them guiding questions,
directions to complete, checklists, timelines, concept maps, cause-effect
diagrams, or action plan guidelines?
Evaluation. How will students be assessed? Will you use contracts,
checklists, or rubrics?
Conclusion. How will the project conclude? Will you remind learners about
what they've learned or encourage learners to extend the experience?
Online Authoring Systems
Filamentality Filamentality is a fill-in-the-blank tool that guides you
through picking a topic, searching the Internet, gathering good Internet
links, and turning them into online learning activities. Support is built-in
along the way through Mentality Tips. In the end, you'll create a web-
based activity you can share with others even if you don't know
anything about HTML or serving web pages. Cost: Free. Sample
Product: Italian Unification
zWebQuest zWebQuest is a web based software for creating
WebQuests in a short time. Cost: $0. Sample product: The Fantastic
Four and World War III
PHPWebQuestPHP Webquest is a Webquest Generator that allows
teachers to create webquests without the need of writing any HTML
code or using web page editors. The program supports images
uploading, and resizes images is neccesary. A HTML editor is provided
in order to format the texts for the pages. Cost: Free. Must be installed
on your own server. Sample project: La Catedral de Madrid
Let’s analyze some examples
tm What Teacher Educators Need to
Know about Inquiry-Based
2class/inquiry/index.html What is
WebQuests and Web 2.0
The developmental process
Preoperational stage: from ages 2 to 7 (magical
thinking predominates. Acquisition of motor skills).
Egocentrism begins strongly and then weakens.
Children cannot conserve or use logical thinking.
Concrete operational stage: from ages 7 to 12
(children begin to think logically but are very concrete
in their thinking). Children can now conceive and
think logically but only with practical aids. They
are no longer egocentric.
Formal operational stage: from age 12 onwards
(development of abstract reasoning). Children
develop abstract thought and can easily conserve
and think logically in their mind.
The Art of the Question
The questions must be answerable. "What is the poem 'Dream Deferred' based on?" is
answerable. "Why did Langston Hughes write it?" may be answerable if such information
exists, or if the students have some relevant and defensible opinions. "Why did he choose
this particular word in line six?" is not answerable because the only person likely to know
such a specific answer is Hughes himself, now deceased.
The answer cannot be a simple fact. "In what year was Lincoln killed?" doesn't make for a
very compelling project because you can just look it up in any number of books or websites.
"What factors caused the assassination attempt?" might be a good project because it will
require research, interpretation, and analysis.
The answer can't already be known. "What is hip-hop music?" is a bit too straightforward
and the kids are not likely to learn much more than they know already. "What musical styles
does hip-hop draw from and how?" offers more opportunity for exploration.
The questions must have some objective basis for an answer. "Why is the sky blue?"
can be answered through research. "Why did God make the sky blue?" cannot because it is
a faith-based question. Both are meaningful, valid, real questions, but the latter isn't
appropriate for an inquiry-based project. "What have people said about why God made the
sky blue?" might be appropriate. Likewise, "Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?" is
ultimately unanswerable in that form because no humans were around to know for sure, but
"What do scientists believe was the reason for their extinction?" or "What does the evidence
suggest about the cause?" will work. Questions based on value judgments don't work for
similar reasons. You can't objectively answer "Is Hamlet a better play than Macbeth?"
The questions can not be too personal. "Why do I love the poetry of W. B. Yeats?" might
inspire some level of internal exploration, but in most cases that's not your most important
goal. Get the kids to focus on external research instead.