The term 'Internal Assessment' only applies to the Individual Scientific Investigation. The Individual Scientific Investigation is scheduled to take ten hours of the 40h(SL) or 60h(HL) Practical Scheme of Work and is the ONLY part that forms the 20% of the final internal assessment component mark. There are a few marks devoted to the type of skills and understanding covered in the mandatory laboratory components in Section A of Paper 3 in the external examination (see Experimental work questions for practice examples) but none of the practical work counts towards the internal assessment mark apart from the Individual Scientific Investigation. The great strength of this is that it enables your teacher(s) to plan your own practical programme as an integral part of their 150 hours (SL) or 240 Hours (HL) teaching course without you having to worry too much about assessment. This means that you can learn through practical work and reinforce your understanding and, unless your teacher requires it, you do not have to write up each and every practical to an agreed set of criteria. The downside is that all the 20% of the internal assessment marks are placed on just one single 10 hour investigation. This means that many teachers will use much of the practical programme to 'Scaffold' the Individual Scientific investigation, i.e. to teach you the skills necessary for you to achieve a high mark in your individual investigation.
What is the Individual Scientific Investigation?
The point of internal assessment is that it allows you to demonstrate that you can apply your skills and knowledge, and at the same time pursue your personal interests, without the exact time limitations and other constraints associated with the written examinations. The internal assessment task consists of just one scientific investigation which should take about ten hours and be presented for assessment in a 6-12 page write-up. The investigation should be complex and commensurate with the level of the course although Standard Level and Higher Level students will be marked according to the same set of criteria. It should have a purposeful research question together with the underlying scientific rationale for it. Although the investigation can follow a traditional hands-on approach there is much more scope that can be used and, in fact, it is permissible that all the data employed can be obtained from secondary sources. This is perhaps to accommodate the fact that in the near future students may be able to do an online IB Diploma chemistry course where traditional supervised practical work will no longer be possible. The use of secondary data has also enabled students to still work on their IA even though they had very limited access (if any) to laboratories when schools were closed during the recent worldwide pandemic .
The IB lists some of the possible tasks that could be used.
• a laboratory investigation using a hands-on approach.
• analysis and/or modelling using spreadsheets.
• using a database to extract information leading to graphical analysis
• a hybrid of the above three, i.e. using a spreadsheet or database together with a more traditional hands-on investigation.
• the use of an interactive and open-ended simulation.Note that some of the tasks could consist of appropriate and relevant qualitative chemistry that is also combined with quantitative chemistry.
The Individual Scientific Investigation is marked out of 24 according to five different criteria: personal engagement, exploration, analysis, evaluation and communication. These do not all have equal weighting. Exploration, Analysis and Evaluation are each worth a maximum of six marks, Personal engagement is marked out of two and the maximum mark for Communication is four. Once the total mark out of 24 is obtained it is scaled by the IB to a mark out of 20 which makes up the internal assessment component mark. Samples of student work from each school are moderated to try to ensure a consistent standard.
Almost all students will carry out their Individual Scientific Investigation during the second year of their two-year course. I have attached links (on the left) to attempt to break down the whole process into manageable sections to help you achieve to your maximum potential. This includes the whole process, from preparation beforehand, to choosing the research topic, collecting and recording the data and writing the report. There are also several examples of past genuine student IA reports with attached grades and comments for you to look at.