WebQuest: A Useful Teaching Tool to Promote Higher Order Thinking and ICT Integration in ECSE Teacher Preparation

Project Number
OER 10/09 YCH

Project Duration
October 2009 - September 2012

Status
Completed

Abstract
Under the current trend of globalization and economic dynamics, accountability of our educational systems is being seriously tested. The essential question is, are our teachers and schools ready to carry out the mission to meet the demands of the future by preparing our young learners with the knowledge, skills, and innovation capabilities necessary to advance our competitiveness globally? In response to the demands of the future, Ministry of Education (MOE) in Singapore has wisely proposed several initiatives to promote the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education, and increase the competitiveness of workforce by emphasizing inquiry-based learning, higher order thinking, and problem solving (i.e., Thinking Schools Learning Nation, Students' Effective Engagement and Development). This study asserts that these two goals, rather than being mutually exclusive, are highly related. Research has shown that integrating technology in teaching and learning can have positive influences on higher order thinking, students' motivation, inquiry-based learning, attitudes, achievement, and peer interactions in the classrooms (Bennett, 2001; Schofield, 1995). This study further proposes to use WebQuest to promote higher order thinking and ICT integration in ECSE teacher preparation at NIE and the University of Alabama, U.S.A. Developed by Dodge (1995), WebQuest is an inquiry-based teaching tool, in which students of all ages and levels participate in an authentic task that uses pre-designed, pre-defined internet resources, though other print resources can also be used. Research has documented that WebQuest has effectiveness in promoting student engagement, motivation, connecting to authentic contexts, critical thinking, higher order thinking, literacy skills, and Information and Communication technology (ICT) integration (Abbitt & Ophus, 2008; Ikpeze & Boyd, 2007; Kanuka, Rourke, & Laflamme, 2007; Reparaz, 2005). This project has unique significance for the following reasons. First, little research has investigated WebQuest as a teaching strategy in promoting teaching and learning and achieving curricular specific objectives (Abbitt & Ophus, 2008). Second, the use of WebQuest in the disciplines of Early Childhood and Special Education is minimal, given that most studies were in the subject areas of literacy, math, and science. Lastly, little research has been reported on the effects of using WebQuest in higher education using experimental design across two cultures as this study proposes. The collaboration across cultures will allow us to investigate the effects of WebQuest on promoting higher order thinking, ICT integration, as well as culture-specific values and beliefs.

Funding Source
NIE

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