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Professional Development through Inquiry By Gerald McCarthy. Teachers in Action. Broad Research Question :. Will Inquiry-based learning improve student achievement in science?. Specific Research Question.

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Professional Development through Inquiry

By Gerald McCarthy

Teachers in Action

Broad Research Question:

Will Inquiry-based learning improve student achievement in science?

Specific Research Question

Will WebQuests help improve student achievement when learning about Magnets (Invisible Power)?

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.

WebQuest.org. Department of Educational Technology, San Diego State University. 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-12.

Magnetism Website Overview

A Webquest is broken into 6 parts, as listed above.






Teacher’s Notes

Classroom Context

I teach 3 classes of multiage grade ¾ science.

Conducted WebQuest with all 3 classes. All three classes were observed but data were collected only from my class

Class size for 3 classes was 18, 19 and 19 students.

Detailed Timeline

Research WebQuests(Google/scholarly articles);

Send home permission slips;

Give students survey about their learning style in science;

Show students some already created science Webquests to get them use to the routine;

Buy resources I needed for magnets;

Do pre-test on Magnetism.

Detailed Timeline

Create and upload WebQuest online: http://www.k12.nf.ca/woodlandelem/WebQuest/Action%20Research/Magnets/Magnets.html

Have students do the WebQuest on Magnetism that I designed, take video clips and pictures;

Evaluate students’ assessments (worksheet, poster);

Do post-test on Magnetism;

Compare Data.

Science Learning Survey

I had students do a pre and post learning survey to see how they liked to learn science, determine if their feelings changed about the way they learn science and also to get a better understanding of my students.

The first percentage is the pre-survey and the second percentage is the post-survey.

Learning Survey

I like to figure out things?

AgreeSomewhat Agree


Somewhat DisagreeDisagree


Most students liked to figure out things both before and after the webquest. During survey I explained what “figure out things” meant.

Learning Survey

2.I work better on my own?

AgreeSomewhat Agree


Somewhat DisagreeDisagree


More students, after the WebQuest, did not want to work on their own.

Learning Survey

  • 3.I work well with others?

  • AgreeSomewhat Agree

  • 32%/47%32%/42%

  • Somewhat DisagreeDisagree

  • 16%/11%21%/0%

  • After doing the Webquest, more students enjoyed doing group work than before.

Learning Survey

  • 4.I do better when I work at my own pace?

  • AgreeSomewhat Agree

  • 95%/95%5%/5%

  • Somewhat DisagreeDisagree

  • 0%/0%0%/0%

  • There is no change.

Learning Survey

  • 5.I am comfortable using the computer/internet?

  • AgreeSomewhat Agree

  • 58%/68%21%/21%

  • Somewhat DisagreeDisagree

  • 21%/11%0%/0%

  • More students are more comfortable using the computer, the internet and sending documents to the printer, than before the WebQuest.

Learning Survey

  • Choose in order from 1 (most important), 2 (important), 3 (least important) how you like to learn science:

  • ComputerTextbook/Notes Experiments/Hands-on

  • 37%/42% 0%/0%63%/58%

  • There is marginal change before and after the Webquest, students continue to enjoy doing hands-on activities the most, with computers the second preference.

  • Nobody liked reading or taking notes.

Student Evaluation

Students enjoyed creating the posters. I used a rubric to score, which was also on the Webquest website.

Student Evaluation

Magnetism Pre and Post Quiz

Magnetism Pre and Post Quiz

The class average of the pre-quiz was 63%.

The class average of the post-quiz was 88%.

The conclusion is that students learned from the Webquest.

How Students Felt

Jack & Michael

Sholanda & Madison

How Students Felt

Kaitlyn & Kyla

Lydia, Hannah & Amy

How Students Felt

Cole, Steven & Jules

Jamianna & Amelia

Teacher Observations

  • I found creating the website a lot of work; however, once done it can be used again.

  • Most students enjoyed doing the Webquest. However, LD students had difficulty reading instructions from Webquest.

  • Students interest in using computers for science increased. As well, students still enjoyed doing hands-on experiments.


In conclusion, based on the data, student observations and interviews, students did achieve more in science using webquests.

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