Being a Supervisor

As a supervisor you will be responsible for the progress of all the students allocated to you. This job can be fairly easy or very demanding , it dependis entirely on the student. I once supervised 12 students which although not the world record was rather a lot, 6 is about right.

As a supervisor you have certain responsibilities:

  • Give advice and guidance in the skills of undertaking research
  • Advise the student on a sensible choice of research question, to do this you need to know what a sensible choice is.
  • Support the student throughout the whole process and give encouragement when needed.
  • Ensure that the student doesn't do anything illegal or unethical.
  • Know what the assessment criteria are and make sure that the student knows
  • Reads and comments on the first draft only of the extended essay.
  • Ensures that the essay is the students own work.
  • Predict a grade for the essay that is submitted to the IB.
  • Complete the supervisor’s report.
  • Deal with cases of suspected plagiarism by writing a report to the Diploma coordinator.'

As a good supervisor you should also

  • Read  last years examiners report
  • Be prepared to spend about 4 hours with each student you supervise.
  • Ensure that the level of the essay is appropriate both for the IB and the student.
  • Know how to access information about the chosen topic.
  • Be familiar with (or make sure that the studdent can contact someone who is)  the experimental techniques required
  • Know how to write an abstract and document sources.
  • conducts a short, concluding interview (viva voce).

I'd add to this that if you expect the students to work on their essay during the holiday then you must be available to answer questions via email, chat or telephone during the holiday.

You are not required to:

  • Write the essay for the student.
  • correct the essay.
  • Mark the essay.
  • Know how to solve all problems.
  • Understand how to derive all equations.
  • Know how to turm a bad essay into a good one.

Being an EE supervisr is not just about fulfilling the requirements of the IB it is about working with your students on a piece of independent research beyond the confines of the syllabus. It's a great opportunity to spend some time talking about physics with your most enthusiastic students. I have gained a great deal from my involvement over the past 15 years which is why I still encourage students to write their essay in physics even if the statistics paint a gloomy picture.

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