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Course Activities: Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Approaches

Let's build a better mousetrap. Actually, your job is to invent a ...

The use of handheld devices such as cell phones and ipod has increased in public high schools. Your job is to ...

Have you ever wondered whether life could exist on Mars?...

Project, problem, and inquiry-based approaches engage learners with course content and involve them in meaningful activities.

Project-based Learning

Project-based Learning blends traditional subject-matter goals and objectives with authentic learning environments. Project-based learning is an approach to learning focusing on developing a product or creation. The project may or may not be student-centered, problem-based, or inquiry-based.

Go to World War I: Poetry Visualization Project for an example of the project-based approach using the wiki format.

For an overview, go to Project-based Learning at Wikipedia.

Problem-based Learning

Problem-based Learning is an approach to learning focusing on the process of solving a problem and acquiring knowledge. The approach is also inquiry-based when students are active in creating the problem.

For an overview, go to Problem-based Learning at Wikipedia.

For a tutorial on problem-based learning, go to Problem Tutorials at the PBL Network, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

Explore the Lunar Outpost, an online manual provides step-by-step instructions for coaching a PBL unit through all facets of the process.

For help in creating Problem-based Learning, go to Tutorial on Problem-Based Learning by Bill Stepien, Northern Illinois University Consortium for Problem-Based Learning.

Inquiry-based Learning

Inquiry-based Learning engages learners in activities that help them actively pose questions, investigate, solve problems, and draw conclusions about the world around them. Questioning is at the core of information inquiry and drives the teaching and learning process.

For an overview, go to Inquiry-based Learning at Wikipedia.

Learn more about Inquiry-based Learning at Virtual Inquiry.

Learn more about Project and Problem-based Learning at Virtual Inquiry.


The project-based approach provides a meaningful direction, the problem-based approach relevance through problem-solving, the inquiry approach helps students become more aware of their environment, and the multiple intelligences address individual needs and interests. The WebQuest environment combines these ideas together into a meaningful project.

WebQuests provide an authentic, technology-rich environment for problem solving, information processing, and collaboration. This inquiry-based approach to learning involves students in a wide range of activities that make good use of Internet-based resources.

Bernie Dodge developed the WebQuest concept back in the mid 1990s. His resources can be found at WebQuest.org.

Explore QuestGarden to see a wide range of options for online activities (Free 30-day trial of lesson creation tools available; some sections open to explore):

Complete our an online workshop at Internet Expeditions: Exploring, Using, Adapting, and Creating WebQuests.

Complete our online an online workshop at Dive into WebQuests: Reading, Writing, and Web 2.0.

Complete WebQuests, the free, online workshop from Educational Broadcasting Corporation.

Learn more at Locate and Evaluate WebQuests from Teacher Tap

Examples to Explore

Explore project starters and graphics novels at Sequential Art, Graphic Novels, and Comics.

Below you'll find a few examples.

To find more examples, do a Google search for your topic and add the word "WebQuest" or "problem-based learning".

The project-based approach provides a meaningful direction, the problem-based approach brings relevance through problem-solving, and the inquiry approach helps students become more aware of their environment.
WebQuests can be project, problem, and/or inquiry-based environments.

apply itApply It!
Explore examples of problem, project, and inquiry-based learning.

List the pros and cons of using this approach with your content.

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