Going on a Quest

By Judith Maginnis Kuster

Have you ever been on a "Quest?" OneLook Dictionary (http://www.onelook.com) links to 23 dictionaries with English definitions for the word "quest," including five different descriptions for q.u.e.s.t. (in Acronym Finder - www.acronymfinder.com), 198 different words that rhyme with quest (in Rhyme Zone - www.rhymezone.com). Others in this quest include the on-line etymology dictionary that explains the origin of the word is probably Latin or French (http://www.etymonline.com/), and the Merriam-Webster dictionary that pronounces the word aloud (www.m-w.com). The basic definition of course is "the act of searching for something." However, although OneLook indexes more than five million words in more than 900 on-line dictionaries, none recognized the word, "webquest." Only Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/) -- the "communal encyclopedia that anyone can edit" -- had information about "webquests."

A webquest differs from an Internet search, which is typically unstructured. Tom March and Bernie Dodge, (http://webquest.sdsu.edu/overview.htm) who first designed the webquest concept in 1995, explain that a webquest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information is drawn from the Web and is designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it. A standard webquest has the following components: introduction, task, process (which includes information sources), evaluation, and conclusion.

Shorter webquests may be important tools to help clients, their classmates, or their families acquire more knowledge about a communicative disability in a few hours. Longer webquests are designed for finding, analyzing, and integrating information. They may take up to a month for a student or team of students to complete and would be appropriate for course assignments.

Below are some examples worth exploring of webquests already on-line:

The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities has designed several webquests to help children understand disability, including the following that focus on speech-language disabilities:

  • Disfluency - created by Carolyn Wuertz to help a 4th-6th grader understand his stuttering (http://usiweb.usi.edu/students/2003/v_w_x_y_z/wuertz_c/Introduction.html)
  • Famous Dysfluent Singers - a one-week webquest by Carol Flaherty for 6th-8th graders enrolled in speech therapy. (www.angelfire.com/oh5/stutter/WebSearch.html)
  • Unforgettable Grammar - designed by Sheila Pressler for 7th/8th grade language arts (http://wneo.org/WebQuests/TeacherWebQuests/Grammar/grammar.htm)
  • Social Skills Web Quest - a two week quest by Elizabeth Lamb to learn more about skills used in a social skills group and to learn new social skills (http://users.monticello.k12.wi.us/~robelel/Index_files/Webquest/Social%20Skills.htm)
  • Say What? - a webquest created by Melissa Perez, a high school teacher, to help students understand speech-language disability. (www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil/pages/webspeechime1.html)
  • Matt's Hearing Web Quest - developed for high school students to investigate the causes of hearing loss and develop understanding of students with hearing impairments in the classroom. (http://cehs.unl.edu/mbwichman/webquest/HearingWebquest/webqhome.html)
  • Assistive Technology WebQuest - a class assignment designed by Angela Anderson and Melody Buckner to research Assistive Technologies (http://dana.ucc.nau.edu/~mjb236/etc547/webquest.html)
  • Disability Research WebQuest - designed by Rebecca Evers for college students to learn about specific types of special needs and their educational implications. (http://coe.winthrop.edu/eversr/Chester/disability_webquest_chester.htm)

    Although you are free to use the above webquests (and search for more), Web sites listed in them often disappear and you may want to develop a webquest with a specific client or for a class. The most challenging part is defining the task and finding appropriate materials. A webquest can take various design patterns (http://webquest.sdsu.edu/designpatterns/all.htm). Once you have developed a vision and found appropriate resources, there are templates on-line to assist in creating your webquest such as:

    For clients or classes developing exceptional webquests, ThinkQuest (www.thinkquest.org) "is a project-based learning challenge in which students and teachers from around the world collaborate to author innovative content that will be published in the popular ThinkQuest Library." Teams of students in three age divisions (from 9-19) are invited to submit webquests to compete for prizes.


    Judith Kuster is in the department of speech, hearing, and rehabilitation services at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Contact her at judith.kuster@mnsu.edu. All of Kuster's Internet columns are on ASHA's Web site in HTML format with active links (www.asha.org/about/publications/leader-online/archives/news.htm), although URLs change and there is no guarantee that links from previous articles are still functional.

    Kuster, JM, Going on a Quest, ASHA Leader, October 17, 2006, p. 51.