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Criteria for Assessing Best WebQuests

From years of creation, design, evolution, and hard thinking after good peer feedback, we believe the following criteria describe a "Best WebQuest."

We understand that people may use a variety of templates or formats to write their WebQuests and that not all of these incorporate the same sections or directly match-up to these criteria. We're not too fussed about that. When we find a WebQuest that avoids the "7 Red Flags," we're happy to look for the criteria below however they may be listed or appear between the lines.

Note that we don't even worry about graphics and Web publishing. We find that one person's cute animated graphic is another's flashing annoyance. Similarly, sometimes a plain vanilla page communicates better than one pounced upon by someone trying all the bells and whistles in an HTML editor. We focus on what's going on in the minds, hearts and values of learners.

Once we find a WebQuest that passes a gut level barometer for quality, we run it through this matrix and assign values as well as we humanly can. Please allow us some "plus-or-minus one" wiggle room - more important than the number of stars is the descriptors of the criterion. Realize that few WebQuests by anyone always come up with a full 24 points. We're not looking for perfection; we're looking to better understand how to construct effective Web-based learning.

  Low Medium High
Engaging Opening / Writing No attempt made to appeal to learners. Honestly attempts to appeal to student interests. Has that something that compels attention.
The Question / Task No real Question and / or a fuzzy Task. Maybe what's asked for is lower level thinking or info retrieval. There is at least an implicit Question and a Task that targets higher order thinking. All this may not be totally clear. Clear Question and Task. These naturally flow from the introduction and signal a direction for sophisticated learning.
Background for Everyone No attempt to access prior learning or build common background. Some mention of addressing a common body of knowledge. (May not happen within the activity.) Clearly calls attention to the need for a common foundation of knowledge and provides needed (Web?) resources.
Roles / Expertise No Roles / use of perspectives or Roles are artificial and may lack inherent conflict of interest. Roles are clear and realistic. They may be limited in scope, but do evoke conflict. Roles match the issues and resources. The roles provide multiple perspectives from which to view the topic.
Use of the Web This activity could probably be done without the Web. Some resources reflect features of the Web that make it particularly useful such as images, audio, interactivity, current information, etc. Uses the Web to access at least some of the following: interactivity, multiple perspectives, multimedia, current information, etc.
Transformative Thinking No Transformative thinking. (This is not a WebQuest, but may be a good Knowledge Hunt). Higher level thinking is required, but the process for students may not be clear. Higher level thinking is required to construct new meaning. Scaffolding is provided to support student achievement.
Real World Feedback No feedback loop included. The learning product could easily be used for authentic assessment although this may not be addressed or it only happens in the classroom. A feedback loop connecting learners to the Real world is included in the Web page and an evaluation rubric is probably provided (early on!).
Conclusion Minimal conclusion. No mention of student thinking or symmetry to intro. Returns to the intro ideas. May sum up the experiences and learning that was undertaken.
Clear tie-in to the intro. Makes the students' cognitive tasks overt and suggests how this learning could transfer to other domains/issues. Probably calls attention to the assumptions / hidden agendas inherent in the WebQuest itself. Sophistication keeps increasing.

Note -
Values in the assessment matrix are:
  • low = 1 each
  • medium = 2 each
  • high = 3 each
  13 - 15 = ***
  16 - 19 = ****
  20 - 24 = *****

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