Supervision of EE

Students come to the EE process having a lot of ideas of what they want to research and write about. Some of the topics may be very good, but some may be a bit problematic. If a student wants to write about the effect of iphone usage on memory, they should first check to see if there is anything out there on the topic. If not, they should look for something that has more research already available.

One of the most important responsibilities of the supervisor to approve the research question. It is important to remember that the students should choose appropriate topics. If a student wants to write about serial killers, for example, it may be an idea to check if the student has psychological resources to begin with. It is not appropriate to describe a number of serial killers with graphic details about murders. Students should under no circumstances share about their own personal experiences with drugs, sexual abuse, domestic violence, or sexual experience - or share information about family members or friends.

If you have several students to supervise you could gather them in a group and give them instructions as a group. It is also a good idea to be in contact with the students via email during the whole period, but it really is required that you have a minimum of three face-to-face sessions which you should document - one at the beginning, one after the draft has been returned and then the final meeting, called the "viva voce."

The process described here is one model of how to meet your supervision responsibilities.

Session 1: Starting EE

1. The first meeting that I have with students is to give them a sense of the topics that they can choose from and the way that questions are formulated.  To do this, please see Forming the research question

2. It is also important to help students understand the types of resources that they are going to have to use for this process. Although textbooks and Internet articles may help to provide background information, students have to use published research.  Teaching them how to read a journal article is an important first step. Remember, it is not the supervisor's responsibility to find resources to write the paper.

You may want to work closely with the school librarian.  Our own school librarian holds a session with students to discuss databases and serves as the point-person for citation questions.

3. Once students have done some of their own research and have a sense of their question and thesis, I then have them write their first reflection.

Session 2: Gathering the evidence

This common session takes place while at the beginning of the research process. The students have probably started writing notes and perhaps preliminary answers to some of the issues.

Our school library keeps samples of A and B extended essays which students can sign out.  I have each student sign out one EE and read it prior to this session.

In this session we focus on three main points:

  1. They should fine 3 to 4 key studies on which the argument will be based.  They should be able to summarize the aim, procedure and findings in their own words. 
  2. They should also be able to find 3 to 4 studies that can serve either as counter-arguments or as an perspective on the question. Once again, they should summarize them in their own words.
  3. They should be keeping a log that evaluates each study and start seeing trends with regard to the question - that is, common problems with research, what we don't know or strengths of research.

Session 3:  Introductions and discussions

In this session I go over the expectations for the introduction and the discussion section of the paper with students.

Session 4: The first draft

In psychology class, students present their research question, their justification of it, and how they intend to answer it. They should present an outline of their argument as well as the evidence that supports it. They could also present a possible conclusion. The class then asks them questions about their research.  This gives them some peer feedback before writing the final draft.

Our school has an "EE writing day" at the end of the school year.  Some schools do it at the beginning of year 2.  During this day, students work with the IB coordinator and librarians to complete a working draft. 

Students write their second reflection before turning in their rough draft.

It your responsibility as the supervisor to give feedback on the rough draft.  Be sure to comment constructively so that there is something to work with. Be clear and focused. Use the assessment criteria to give feedback.  Remember, you are only allowed to give one set of feedback to your students. You may want to use the feedback form that is attached below.

EE feedback form

Session 5: Viva voce

The final step of the process is the final draft and the viva voce .

Once the final draft is turned in, you must have a documented final interview with the student.  As I have five candidates, I will often have them do it as a focus group, rather than as individual interviews.  I make an exception with students who have really struggled and have a weak final product; I carry out those interviews alone.

After the viva voce, you are required to fill in a "supervisor report" and students should write their final reflection.

You should not write any comments on the final draft.  It will be uploaded for e-marking.  You do, however, need to predict the grade.  This will be given to your IB coordinator to enter into IBIS.

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