Extended Essay in Studies in Language
Tuesday 7 May 2013
Exams are over, at least for Language and Literature, if not for all subjects. It remains, however, a hectic time for students in my school. My grade 11s are beginning to think about Individual Oral Commentaries (IOCs), and are busy in other subjects too. In ‘the core’, our students are preparing for Theory of Knowledge (TOK) presentations, and they are beginning to work with supervisors on Extended Essays (EEs).
Students, as you may know, are now able to write a Group 1, Category 3 EE in ‘Studies in Language’. A number of students have approached me asking if I will supervise a Category 3 EE that they intend to write. It’s my experience that students seldom come with a clear sense of topic, a well-articulated and focused research question, or a real sense of methodological approach. However, I’m struck by the esoteric notions these ‘Category 3 students’ sometimes have. Here’s an example:
T(eacher): So, you’d like to do an EE in Studies in Language, is that right?
T: Good. Do you have any ideas about what you’d like to write about?
T: Okay, tell me.
S: I want to study violence in Grand Theft Auto.
T: I see. [Pause] So Grand Theft Auto is presumably your text. What kind of textual analysis do you intend to do, and what do you think your study might show?
And, of course, the discussion descends into anarchy until the teacher is able to explain more fully what a Category 3 EE (really) is, and the student is no longer quite so enthused.
I’ve recently added a Category 3 EE to the website. It’s a solid essay. Certainly, it’s the right kind of essay for this category.
Here’s a book recommendation: Projects in Linguistics and Language Studies by Alison Wray and Aileen Bloomer. I used it as a postgraduate student, I used it teaching undergraduate students, and now I find I am using it with Category 3 EE students. Admittedly, not everything in the book is appropriate to the Category 3 EE student, but much is. Once I give it to students to flick through, they sometimes return, and they never again mention Grand Theft Auto, Game of Thrones, or Gossip Girl.