Scaffolding preservice teachers' design of WebQuests
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In recent years, WebQuests have been widely used to integrate technology with domain pedagogy; teacher educators have explored the WebQuest model to assist preservice teachers in developing technology integration skills akin to those of practicing teachers in everyday schools. Given sufficient support, preservice teachers may design effective WebQuests and improve their technology integration skills prior to entering the teaching profession. During the past two decades, scaffolding has been studied as a strategy to support the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Appropriately designed scaffolds may enable preservice teachers to both understand the underlying assumptions and assess the viability of their WebQuest designs in everyday classrooms. This qualitative study examined how preservice teachers reported they used and perceived scaffolds when designing WebQuests. The study was guided by the following research questions: 1. How do preservice teachers report using scaffolds when designing their WebQuests? 2. How do preservice teachers perceive the effectiveness of scaffolds in designing their WebQuests? Sixteen participants were purposefully selected from an undergraduate-level introductory course section designed to prepare preservice teachers to integrate technology into their teaching. Data from multiple sources were collected, including interviews with five participants and the instructor, surveys on preservice teachers’ backgrounds and opinions about scaffolding materials and procedures, videotaped classroom activities, course project assignments submitted to the instructor, and handouts and course website postings provided by the instructor. Data were analyzed using constant comparison methods, and several major themes, sub-themes, and patterns emerged. The results indicated that preservice teachers followed, adapted, and combined scaffolds as they designed their WebQuest projects. They valued provided scaffolds that explicitly directed their designs or could be modeled, as well as peer or instructor feedback and discussion. They also sought additional scaffolding to support their design needs, and they did not use scaffolds they perceived as ineffective. This study operationalized WebQuest scaffolds of different types and functions in order to support preservice teachers’ design of WebQuests. The results supported some reports related to designing and implementing WebQuest scaffolds, but contradicted others. Implications for future research are discussed.