Evaluation of a Webquest: The Crucible Background Research
(I did not know how to complete a ScreenShot, so I just linked to it below the evaluation).
1. Synopsis of the WebQuest including its intended audience, its educational goals, and the curriculum standards addressed if stated:
The WebQuest looked into was one created for high school students who are about to begin The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It’s goals are for students to have students develop prior knowledge about the Salem Witch Trials, Arthur Miller, McCarthyism/The Red Scare/The Cold War and Puritanism before beginning to read. It has an extension activity that either has students only researching one part and sharing the information verbally with other students who researched a different aspect of the background information, or creating a PowerPoint and a works cited page and sharing with the class. This way each student is not doing the whole WebQuest, but learning from other groups of students who are now the “experts” on one part of the WebQuest. Some standards addressed, although not listed are, in terms of craft and structure, because some of the materials found from the part of the WebQuest on the Salem Witch Trials is evidence from petitions and letters from 1692, students have to decipher meaning, they have to determine central ideas of a text within different sources when the WebQuest asks them to summarize, and based on certain questions about an article on why Arthur Miller wrote the Crucible, they have to determine his point of view and purpose. It is very clear in its goals and focuses for the students. Clearly, these are elements they must learn about and understand before they begin reading. It itself makes clear the curriculum’s intentions and what the end result will be--understanding each aspect of this background information to gain necessary prior knowledge. It does not, however, contain much of an introduction or process steps, until the steps are given for creating the PowerPoint after the research is done. This is a short-term Webquest, 2 days max.
2. What pedagogical strategies are employed in the WebQuest and are they effective? Is there use of metaphor? Are they using inductive or deductive strategies? Is there scaffolding? What other strategies do you see?
There is very simple instructions to follow. For instance, it will tell students the website and then the heading/sub heading to click on to be able to read for the answers in the following questions. It will also ask students to either copy down information verbatim, to paraphrase, or to summarize the information given. There is no use of a metaphor, although they do need to know and understand what an allegory is to understand the connection between the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism. I believe they are using deductive strategies because there are answers are not necessarily open ended and they are only using the evidence they are given to answer questions, however, it may also be inductive because they are experiencing and observing the information they are drawing conclusions about. There is not much scaffolding because the whole WebQuest asks very clear questions and directs students where to go to get the information being asked of them. The Strategies that as an English teacher I find very important are asking the kids different kinds of questions that require different answers such as asking them to paraphrase or summarize, or interpret. These are all important skills to learn as readers, writers, and researchers.
3. In what ways is the WebQuest taking advantage of technology? In what ways is it 'change without difference'? Could this WebQuest be done just as well by photocopying pages and handing them out to students?
It is taking advantage of the use of different websites, and it also gives the students the chance to, after answering questions and taking notes, to become the experts and share their information through the creation of an easy-to-read and take notes with PowerPoint. I don’t think the WebQuest is change without difference. I believe through this process they are able to take ownership much more of a certain aspect of the background as they will become the teachers of that information. I don’t think they would get them same engagement out of simply being handed print-outs of this information. Having to look for it gives an added excitement and ‘difference’ to this assignment. It also seems like a much more manageable task, instead of handing kids packets of information, this, to them, looks doable.
4. Technically, does it work? Does it have bugs or flaws such as broken links or images? Is the material out of date? Does it credit its sources?
There was one broken link that was discovered, but students should definitely be able to be creative in looking up that information through different channels. They just need to be thoughtful when using a search engine. It does work though. Each aspect of the WebQuest credits where the information would be taken from, and each source itself is credible and verifiable.
5. How would you improve the WebQuest?
I might leave room for more questions that allow for less direct answers, and more interpretive ones.
See Crucible WebQuest Below.
See the PowerPoint/Group Process and Rubric steps Below.