One of the most important elements of a WebQuest is The Big Question. It is sometimes called the Focus Question, or Essential Question. It provides the students with their focus throughout the WebQuest - an important scaffold, something they can refer back to at all times throughout their exploring and working on the WebQuest.
When you are creating a WebQuest, after deciding on the messy problem to be solve, this is the next element that you need to research and think about. This Big Question has to be a question that allows students to think through possibilities, issues and solutions to the messy problem. It can be an open-ended question. An open-ended question is sometimes called infinite response or unsaturated type questions as they allow a full range of ideas to be developed.
A great WebQuest "Conflict Yellowstone Wolves" with a good Big Question: "Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?" is an example of what teachers and creators of WebQuests should be aiming to achieve. This isn't an open-ended question but because this WebQuest has perspectives - Ranchers and Environmentalists - they will approach the question differently. This antagonism (a reflection of real life perspectives) allows students to use their emotional intelligence and they should be given mechanisms to help them resolve this conflict.
WebQuest Direct's Review:
Description: Suitable for students in Years 5 - 8 studying Ecology, or, Animal Behaviour, or Environment Studies. Older students studying Geography or Ecology or conflict or social conflict would find this an interesting and challenging problem. Conflict Yellowstone Wolves is a real-life inquiry-oriented activity that challenges students to solve a current complex problem. The big question is: "Should the wolves in Yellowstone National Park be removed?" Students are to interact with experts, study past history, and develop a solution to the heated debate on reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park USA. The project consists of investigating wolf behaviour; researching the Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction Program; defining and analysing the current problem from different perspectives; developing a solution as a group; and, concludes with the students writing and sending a letter to the editor or government official as a report on their solution - numerous real world feedback contacts are given.
|Rating: (Based on Higher Order Thinking and following the WebQuest Concept)
|Key Learning Areas: HSIE / SOSE / Social Studies; Religious Education & Values; Science
|Key Competencies: Collecting, analysing and organising information; Communicating Ideas and information; Solving problems; Working in a team
|Tasks: Analytical; Compilation; Judgement; Persuasion; Research
|Grade Levels: Middle; Secondary / High School
Author: Keith Nuthall
Created: 1997. Last updated 2006
Evaluation rubric is provided.
Conclusion: just a wrap up with no further challenge to students.
Teacher's Guide is provided and includes Duration: 7 days; and, lesson plans.
Design and layout: clean design with images that enhance the activity.
This WebQuest could be improved with more defined roles and a few more quirky resources.
Also at: http://powayusd.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/teaching_learning/mt&r/ConflictYellowstoneWolf.htm Images are not linked in this version.
Was at: http://www.powayschools.com/projects/mt&r/ConflictYellowstoneWolf.htm