So why would a teacher want to use a WebQuest instead of more traditional teaching methods? First, WebQuests increase student motivation. When students are motivated, they are likely to put in more effort, and their minds are more alert and ready to make connections. "It never ceases to amaze me at how focused the kids stay when they are working with a WebQuest. It is often difficult to tear them away from it to work on other things or even to get them to go outside for recess," says Cindy Graves, a third-grade eMINTS teacher in Monett.
Several aspects of WebQuests contribute to increasing student motivation. Many WebQuest tasks are designed to address problems or issues that exist in the real world, which makes the task authentic. In WebQuests, students use real, timely resources instead of dated textbooks and materials that are only presented from one point of view. Janna Elfrink, a third-grade eMINTS teacher in Reeds Spring uses WebQuests extensively in her classroom. "I use WebQuests almost exclusively for science and social studies instead of the textbooks. Although the textbooks offer valuable information, the WebQuests bring it to life for the students. Most WebQuests are tied to the Standards, and can therefore be substituted for the textbooks."
WebQuests are often cooperative in nature, requiring students to take on roles where they are part of a team that must accomplish the task. They have to become experts on a certain topic and share this information with their group. They know their teammates are counting on them to contribute to the completion of the final task. Because they know their results will be shared with others in some format, often times on the Web, they know they have a real, sometimes worldwide audience. Most students are motivated to do quality work when they know that someone other than their classmates and teacher will see the results of their work. "My kids love doing WebQuests. It is a time where they can learn something important, but they get to show off their creativity and their ability to work with others. After we finish one, my class is begging to do another one," says Julie Frye, a fourth grade eMINTS teacher in Branson.
One of the key reasons for using WebQuests is that they prompt higher-level thinking. The questions posed to students require more than just finding and spitting back information. They must take the information they research and transform it into something else. Often students have to evaluate a variety of information sources that contain multiple opinions. Prior to the Web, it was difficult for teachers to provide resources with varying perspectives.