{4FC2D387-DC70-40FD-B3A9-AAA8BF5B783C}_Extended Essay introductory pow

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Extended Essay Intro for teachers


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The Extended Essay:

The Extended Essay What it is and how to help students produce an effective essay.


Assumptions That you have a basic understanding of what the IB Extended Essay is about. That you have been approached by a student(s) to supervise them through the process. That you have colleagues in your subject area who have supervised essays before. That you have had an initial meeting with your student(s) to discuss the general area of their topic. That you have access to the Online Curriculum Centre (OCC) where you can find specific information on the Extended Essay including IBO reports after each exam session. These really explain what the individual descriptors mean.

Background and Basics:

Background and Basics All IB Diploma students have to submit an Extended Essay of 4000 words. In addition there will be an abstract of 300 words. It may be in any IB Subject and does not have to be in a subject they are studying. It can not be on the same topic as any other piece of internal assessment they are submitting in any IB subject. Students must have an Extended Essay Supervisor who will guide them through the requirements of the essay. They will also have a booklet in hard copy or electronic form to guide them through the process. The supervisor must be a teacher (or assistant) at Bangkok Patana School and will spend around 3-6 hours advising the student over the whole process. The students will spend about 40 hours on the essay. It is the students responsibility to arrange regular meetings with their supervisor and to keep to all deadlines set by them. Each supervisor will be responsible for a maximum of 5 Extended Essays. It is up to the students to present themselves as a ‘good’ student. Failure to meet deadlines will put the entire Diploma in question. At BPS the students have just under one year to complete the essay.

Background and Basics:

Background and Basics They need to research independently and extensively using a minimum of ten sources. (except in Language A1) Commit regular time to work on their Extended Essay. Extended Essays chosen in a Group 1 or 2 language must be written in that language. The Extended Essay is marked out of 36. 24 points are on general guidelines applicable to all subjects and 12 are subject specific. Students choose the exact topic and question and you comment on its suitability. Don’t let them ask you for a specific question. They choose a narrow focus that will allow in depth development in 4000 words. Eg not Hitler’s Germany but a specific aspect of Hitler’s Germany such as propaganda or the role of women. They must ensure that they you will have access to enough resources for their subject. The supervisor helps with this. Plagiarism in the Extended Essay and in all IB subjects is taken very seriously and can result in a failed Diploma. All sources must be acknowledged. The maximum grade for an Extended Essay is A. The minimum is E. An E in both the Extended Essay and TOK is a failing condition of the Diploma. Other combinations of grades can gain up to 3 bonus points.

Between Now and the End of Year 12:

Between Now and the End of Year 12 Your first priority is to state clearly to the student that once you have agreed a meeting time and the frequency of the meetings it is their responsibility to attend, to complete readings and to initiate discussions. Make sure you get from your department or from me a copy of the guidelines for your subject area, the general marking criteria and the subject marking criteria. Meet regularly with each student. Set specific targets for each meeting.

Between Now and the End of Year 12:

Between Now and the End of Year 12 If the students do not attend meetings without good reason do not reschedule. If it persists please inform me If you feel that they have chosen a poor title, they can not access enough sources, they are approaching the essay in an unfocused or irrelevant manner you must intervene immediately. If you are unsure ask colleagues and/or me. In certain cases I can contact IBO for clarification. Help the students to generate a suitable list of sources. Please don’t surprise me with an ‘E’ prediction in October. No-one must fail their Diploma over the Extended Essay.

Between Now and the End of Year 12:

Between Now and the End of Year 12 Check that they are not submitting work on the same topic for another IB subject Familiarise yourself with both the general and the subject criteria. Focus tightly on the criteria. Do not let students throw away marks through not following technical requirements of the essay eg word limit, page numbering, contents page, abstract etc (this is frequently commented on in reports eg History May 2005.

Between Now and the End of Year 12:

Between Now and the End of Year 12 Follow up with your student(s). Each student knows it is their responsibility to find you and meet your deadlines. However, some students inevitably need considerable cajoling. Please keep me informed. Make one or two notes for yourself at each meeting. It is vital for section H of the general criteria that you are able to comment on personal engagement, initiative etc. Emphasise that presentation is very important. Remind students that they will be expected to make a presentation of their research so far in Faculty Week (last week of term).

General Criteria- Recommendations:

General Criteria- Recommendations I have not produced anything on subject criteria as this would take hours. You are all experts in your areas. Please pay close attention to the subject criteria and if in doubt ask me to contact IBO. There are some ambiguous and even confusing descriptors in some subjects that you may need clarifying.

Research Question:

Research Question The research question is of centra l importance. “Whilst it is difficult to do badly on a good question, a poor question will inevitably lead to a poor result.” (Economics) At the beginning of the process it is essential to ensure the question is appropriate. Is it too general? Too simple? Too difficult? Too broad? Are they genuinely interested and challenged by their choice? Can the students develop a logical, analytical argument with valid conclusions within 4000 words? Do they state the research question clearly and precisely in the early part of their essay? They must do this . Hypothesis or question? Either BUT hypotheses can lead students to simply try to prove their argument rather than adopt a critical and open minded approach

Approach to the Research Question:

Approach to the Research Question This depends on the research question. If the question is focused the approach probably will be too. Ensure that the student adopts a satisfactory approach to the essay. Eg if the essay is based on experimentation it must standard procedure. For Geography/Business/ Economics data collection must be based on sufficient samples. There is often too much emphasis on historical or biographical information that is not appropriate. The essay must be objective in its analysis and conclusions but should also show a genuine personal response rather than a general discussion.

Approach to the Research Question:

Approach to the Research Question Where appropriate different interpretations should be considered. In the planning stages there must be clearly defined (and agreed) objectives to guide the development of the essay. These can be used as subheadings in the essay.


Analysis/Interpretation Students need to know the difference between describe and explain. Mostly descriptive work will score low marks. Analysis must be backed up by appropriate data/evidence. Students must be critical regarding their source materials and show their own interpretation. Encourage the use of simple, clear graphs and diagrams to present data to be analysed? (Biology report)


Argument/Evaluation A good question should demand this. Encourage the student to frequently refer back to the research question. This will keep them on track. They must be constantly focused on the question. Make sure they substantiate all data used. Some students think that lots of raw data is enough in itself. In your discussions emphasise that they need to develop an argument. It should be logical and develop as it progresses. If the argument developed requires evaluation then they must attempt to do so. (justification, counter-arguments etc) If appropriate they should challenge accepted views.


Abstract This is very simple and is worth three marks but again almost every subject report says it is done badly. The abstract is not an introduction. The abstract does three things. It states the research question, the scope of the investigation (whether the essay had to be reduced, what was done and how), the conclusion of the essay. It must not exceed 300 words.


Conclusion This is very easy but often done badly. The conclusion should be consistent with the arguments in the essay. It should attempt to draw together the various ideas explored in the essay. It should mention unresolved questions and new questions that have emerged in the research process or indicate how an hypothesis could be modified.

Formal Presentation:

Formal Presentation All students have received a handout on effective referencing and writing a bibliography. They must use references unless stated in the subject criteria. They must use one system consistently. All graphs, diagrams, maps etc should be drawn or scanned etc to a high standard and be clearly annotated. Pages must be numbered. Appendices should only be included for additional information. If the information is really useful it should be part of the essay. All essays should follow this order: title page, abstract, contents page, introduction, main body of the essay , (with subheadings if appropriate), conclusion, bibliography, appendices . The essay must not exceed 4000 words.

Holistic Judgement:

Holistic Judgement At the end of the process you are required to add detail to the front page of the cover form that you fill in. The examiners largely depend on the comments from the supervisors to make a decision here and four marks are available. If the student genuinely has shown great commitment or inventiveness etc then you must say so. Don’t be negative!

Final Recommendations:

Final Recommendations The research question. The abstract. Formal presentation and referencing. Target setting Deadlines – May 12 th a plan and introduction, July 3 rd a presentation of the essay so far to other students studying in the same subject area, September 15 th a full draft, December 6 th the final draft Look carefully at the level descriptors and help identify what the students need to do to attain the higher levels.

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