1, Number 4 , Nov/Dec 2000
WebQuests to Promote Integrative Thinking in Conflict
article encourages readers to consider using WebQuests in
their courses or workshops. These web-based teaching and
learning tools make the most of the strengths of the Web,
while providing a hedge against some of it's limitations.
After a brief introduction to the WebQuest concept, readers
are invited to explore an example of a new Conflict
Studies WebQuest developed by the author as part of
a conflict theory course he is teaching this term at Wayne
State University. Should you feel so inspired, links to
information and tools for constucting your own WebQuests
are provided as well.
you stop to think about it, the World Wide Web, with it's
ever churning content, may in fact be the ideal tool for
teaching about conflict and conflict resolution. At first
this may not seem obvious. Textbooks, perhaps our most
cherished teaching tool, are nicely organized and cross-referenced.
Meanwhile, the Web is shapeless and chaotic. While textbooks
are carefully researched and screened for bias-free presentation,
the Web is passionate and full of opinions. And whereas
textbooks are written by professionals, just about anyone
can write a Web page. How can this "blooming, buzzing
confusion" actually be good for teaching?
part, the answer has to do with your goals for teaching
and the level of learning you hope to encourage. Also
key are the kinds of learning activities that you choose
to use with your students.
Different Levels of Learning
common approach to articulating learning goals and related
activities is to use something known as Bloom's Taxonomy.
This method was developed following the 1948 Convention
of the American Psychological Association when Benjamin
Bloom took the lead with a group of educational psychologists
in formulating a classification of "the goals of the educational
process." This work resulted in a taxonomy including three
overlapping domains; the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective.By
1956, Bloom and his co-workers had established a hierarchy
of educational objectives which attempts to divide
the cognitive objectives into subdivisions ranging from
the simplest behavior to the most complex. Each higher
level assumes the mastery of lower levels of performance.
The focus of the six levels are as follows:
refers to the ability to recall facts;
refers to the ability to understand ideas and translate
them into other formats;
is the ability to use ideas in particular and concrete
is the ability to dissect ideas into constituent parts
to make the organization clear;
refers to the ability to integrate parts into a unified
is the ability to judge the value of an idea, procedure,
etc., using appropriate criteria.
level of learning has been associated with the use of
different forms of inquiry and learning tasks and assignments.
graphic laying out some of these questions and tasks
for each level is attached for your consideration.
Resolution Requires the Full Breadth of Learning Levels
an applied field, Conflict Resolution and Conflict Studies
programs must work to prepare students to function across
the full range of Bloom's intellectual levels. This
suggests that students must be active, rather than passive
learners. For in addition to being exposed to some of
the core knowledge
of the field, and being able to recall
basic facts and process models from memory,
students need to actually comprehend
the utility of various theories of conflict and conflict
intervention, and then be able to apply
them to new and changing situations. Students also need
to develop skills of conflict analysis,
as each case and setting is likely be different from
the last. Successful students must have the ability
to explore multiple viewpoints and develop a synthesis
that encompasses the whole. And hopefully, students
will become skilled enough to evaluate
the appropriateness of applying different conflict theories
or intervention methods to any given dispute. Certainly,
conflict studies faculty and trainers have their work
cut out for them.
Web Reflects the World
I raised the question of comparing traditional textbooks
with the Web as teaching tools. Don't get me wrong,
I'm not advocating that we do away with textbooks. There
is no question that textbooks, with their structured
and carefully filtered expert information, are invaluable
tools for presenting core ideas and providing frameworks
for thought. But ask yourself which tool, the Web or
a textbook, you think more accurately reflects the reality
around us? And the world that conflict intervenors must
work in? Is the world of conflict neatly structured,
filtered, and driven by facts and rational experts?
I would argue that the Web, chaotic as it may seem,
more closely mirrors our experience of real life, and
the experience of working through conflict. We face
lots of information, but are unclear about it's quality.
We must grapple with multiple perspectives, opinions
and agendas. And things change fast.
more and more classrooms get wired, the Web provides
us with the opportunity to bring this world, with all
it's lovely complexity and immediacy, into the classroom.
And in the classroom novices and experienced practitioners
and scholars together can safely work with it and learn
from it. Another point in the Web's favor is that as
web-based tools like the CRInfo
project mature, we will have increasingly rapid online
access to the kind of structured, filtered, expert knowledge
about conflict that textbooks now provide. If you like
the Web, it's kind of like having your cake and eating
From a student-centered, active-learning perspective,
the Web can really be an ideal tool. Students are encouraged
to take charge of their own learning. They must make
ongoing subtle judgements about the quality of the information
they find. They are provided the opportunity to explore
many different sides of issues, mainstream as well as
fringe, and to grapple with opinions as well as facts
and the gray areas in-between. They must learn to decide
how much information is enough given their available
time and goals. And they must become information detectives,
able to track missing links and to use available information
and search tools with proficiency. These skills can
serve them well in future years.
the Web certainly has many great features, it has its
limitations too. It is so vast and hyperlinked that
one can quickly get lost on potentially facinating but
irrelevant side-trips. Students may feel tempted to
spend time in areas of the web that they stumble across
(such as pornography, chat rooms, gambling, shopping
sites, or term paper mills) that may be clearly inappropriate
from an educational or moral standpoint. And given the
sheer amount of available information, one can quickly
feel trapped by seemingly endless searches for small
nuggets of relevant information buried within piles
of useless, misleading junk.Fortunately,
WebQuests have been designed with the strengths and
limitations of the Web in mind. In the next section
we will review the WebQuest method in some more detail.
A project of Campus
Conflict Resolution Resources
and the CRInfo Higher Education Focus Project.
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report c/o
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
College of Urban, Labor and Metropolitan Affairs
Wayne State University
656 W. Kirby, Detroit, MI 48202.
send comments, bug reports, etc. to the Associate
© 2000-2003 William
C. Warters & WSU, All rights reserved.