Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Education Theory and Practice


Curriculum and Instruction

Content Description

1 online resource (xvii, 351 pages) : illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Carla Meskill

Committee Members

Carla Meskill, Dianna Newman, Peter Shea


Conversation, English, Instructional, language, WebQuest, writing, English language, Web-based instruction, Blended learning, Internet searching, Language and the Internet, Electronic information resource literacy, Academic writing

Subject Categories

Education | Language and Literacy Education


WebQuests, or inquiry-oriented activities in which learners interact with Web-based information (Dodge, 1995, 1996, 2007), have recently been gaining popularity in education in general and in language education in particular. While it has the advantage of fostering higher-level thinking through authentic assignments, a WebQuest can be challenging to second or foreign language learners. In light of this challenge, Instructional Conversation (IC), or discussion-oriented form of teacher-led talk about text (Saunders & Goldenberg, 2007), may provide a solution to foreign/second language learners' difficulties with comprehension of Web-based information, thereby facilitating their WebQuest task performance. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to investigate the effects of types of post-reading instructional scaffolds on university-level English as a foreign language (EFL) learners' WebQuest writing performance, as well as to identify aspects and features of IC and IC discourse that might have assisted the learners in their WebQuest writing performance. Using an explanatory sequential design, the first, quantitative phase of the study investigated the effects of three post-reading instructional scaffolds, as provided in EFL WebQuest lessons: (a) online IC, (b) online recitation, and (c) no post-reading instructional scaffold. The second, qualitative phase was conducted as a follow-up to the quantitative phase to help explain the quantitative results. Results from the quantitative phase of the study showed that the online IC group outperformed one or both of the other two groups in overall WebQuest writing performance and in the specific areas of overall writing quality and content. An analysis of qualitative interview data revealed a number of themes that helped to explain the quantitative results. Common themes identified through a cross-case analysis of the interview data were corroborated by an analysis of online IC discussion texts. Implications of the study's results are discussed in both theoretical and practical terms.