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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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Teachers in action

Professional Development through Inquiry

By Gerald McCarthy

Teachers in Action

Broad research question
Broad Research Question:

Will Inquiry-based learning improve student achievement in science?

Specific research question
Specific Research Question

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

What is a webquest
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
Magnetism Website Overview

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

Teacher’s Notes

Classroom context

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

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 timeline1

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

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

Learning Survey

I like to figure out things?

Agree Somewhat Agree

74%/79% 21%/21%

Somewhat Disagree Disagree

5%/0% 0%/0%

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

Learning survey1

Learning Survey

2. I work better on my own?

Agree Somewhat Agree

21%/21% 16%/5%

Somewhat Disagree Disagree

42%/53% 21%/21%

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 Disagree Disagree

  • 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 Disagree Disagree

  • 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 Disagree Disagree

  • 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:

  • Computer Textbook/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.

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
How Students Felt

Jack & Michael

Sholanda & Madison

How students felt1
How Students Felt

Kaitlyn & Kyla

Lydia, Hannah & Amy

How students felt2
How Students Felt

Cole, Steven & Jules

Jamianna & Amelia

Teacher observations
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.