The Business Management programme guide for first examination in 2016, reflects the new emphasis in the Diploma Programme on approaches to teaching and learning, which has been adopted from the Middle Years Programme and is now core to the Diploma model. The BM programme guide includes the following statement, which explains the specific focus on content, concepts and context:
The five approaches to learning (developing thinking skills, social skills, communication skills, self-management skills and research skills) along with the six approaches to teaching (teaching that is inquiry-based, conceptually focused, contextualised, collaborative, differentiated and informed by assessment) encompass the key values and principles that underpin IB pedagogy.
It is clear that the IB wants to make its Mission statement, as represented by the Learner Profile attributes, more visible in the nature of its programmes, creating a distinctive offer for schools, students and parents. One key aspect of this is an increased emphasis on skills appropriate for lifelong learners. The philosophy is represented in the BM guide and it is worth including this verbatim, as it helps explain the major changes in the new programme:
Approaches to teaching and learning across the Diploma Programme refers to deliberate strategies, skills and attitudes which permeate the teaching and learning environment. These approaches and tools, intrinsically linked with the learner profile attributes, enhance student learning and assist student preparation for the Diploma Programme assessment and beyond. The aims of approaches to teaching and learning in the Diploma Programme are to:
- empower teachers as teachers of learners as well as teachers of content
- empower teachers to create clearer strategies for facilitating learning experiences in which students are more meaningfully engaged in structured inquiry and greater critical and creative thinking
- promote both the aims of individual subjects (making them more than course aspirations) and linking previously isolated knowledge (concurrency of learning)
- encourage students to develop an explicit variety of skills that will equip them to continue to be actively engaged in learning after they leave school, and to help them not only obtain university admission through better grades but also prepare for success during tertiary education and beyond
- enhance further the coherence and relevance of the students’ Diploma Programme experience
- allow schools to identify the distinctive nature of an IB Diploma Programme education, with its blend of idealism and practicality
In terms of the BM programme, by far the major change is the focus on the following six concepts:
The inclusion of strategy as the 6th concept has removed the need to retain Unit 6 from the existing programme.
Important strategies for business management are conceptually focused teaching and contextualized teaching through the use of case studies and examples. The relationship between concepts, the contexts and content of the discipline of business management is illustrated with a triangular diagram. Concepts are anchored in the tools, techniques and theories of the subject and come alive through case studies and examples. Together, these help students to acquire a holistic and integrated understanding of business management.
The concepts are assessed in section C of paper 2 for both HL and SL, when students will be asked to examine two of the concepts through the focus of a case study, although the marks allocated to this section is relatively few. Examples of these concept questions are given in the Teacher Support Materials (TSM) on the OCC.
The obvious question that arise from the new guide and assessment, is whether the focus on concepts will influence teachers in the delivery of the programme. Would it be practical, for instance, to deliver the content through the concept lenses, rather than unit by unit?