The following step-by-step process provides an approach for teachers so that they can for apply the marking criteria to an ITGS extended essay and provide feedback to students. Past  ITGS Extended Essay reports provide additional information.

Step-by-step how to assess an ITGS Extended essay

1.  Read the introduction with respect to criterion A and criterion B. It is very unlikely that a yes/no research question (RQ) can receive more than 1 mark. The research question must be relevant to ITGS. Many times students think that an extended essay exploring a new technology is an appropriate ITGS paper when in fact it will only address one of the three aspects of the ITGS Triangle (IT systems in a social context) and not address social/ethical context or area(s) of impact well.

The significance and worth of the investigation should not just be the students’ opinion. There should be some academic evidence provided (i.e. specific details with citations).

2. Next look at the table of contents for the approach and organization of the paper. This usually provides a good overview of the development of the paper and how the investigation has been planned. This will aid you later when considering the mark for criterion C.

3.  Examine the entries in the bibliography and the footnotes.

  • Does it seem that sufficient and appropriate research has been conducted for the RQ? Wikipedia or other similar unreliable sources are not acceptable (unless the RQ is about Wikipedia).
  • Has an appropriate format (MLA, APA. Harvard or other) been used? The same question applies to the footnotes/citations in the body of the paper.  The presence of citations in the body of the paper, which fail to clearly identify the precise extent of the material being cited, is not acceptable.
  • Do all of the footnotes/citations appear in the bibliography? Place a tick by each entry in the bibliography. If there are more than 3 entries in the bibliography that do not appear in the citations/footnotes, this is not acceptable. When you read the paper, you will find that students often forget to cite the sources of the images that they used. Interviews should also appear in the bibliography.
  • At this point you will have a good idea if the research is sufficient to support the Extended Essay. There is no fixed number of bibliographical entries that are required. It depends on the RQ. However, better Extended Essays often have 20-30 entries in the bibliography.

4.  Next review the appendices and actually examine how the primary research has been conducted  and the evidence that has been provided. Has it been submitted properly (i.e. full transcripts for interviews, sample survey with a summary of the results, and other relevant data collection)? The shortcoming here usually is that the students do not include interview details (name of interviewee [may be anonymous], position, date, method of recording). The reference to questionnaires and surveys are often problematic because the process used for data collection is not systematic and not described within the extended essay. Check for errors in both the appendices and within the paper. Extended essays must be submitted as originals. Otherwise, the color necessary for graphs and other images is lost.

At this point you will probably already have a pretty good idea of the quality of the formal presentation of the Essay (criterion I).

5. In reading the body of the extended essay, all extended essays should provide a systematic development of the research question with the foundations for understanding the research question developed early-on in the paper. This includes explaining the IT systems involved in the investigation and relevant area(s) of impact. Comprehension and use of ITGS terminology and concepts (IT systems and references to social/ethical considerations) must go beyond what is considered “common knowledge”.

6.  Annotate the use of assessment criteria by writing comments in pencil in the right-hand margin of the extended essay (see extended essay instructions for ITGS examiners). Teachers are allowed to read one draft of an extended essay and provide feedback to the student. They can indicate where assessment criteria have not been met, but may not indicate what the student should write.

7. In all instances in the development of the RQ the secondary research should appear in the paper before the results of related primary research are presented. For their primary research, candidates may use a range of techniques depending on the RQ (i.e. interviews, questionnaires, surveys, investigations and other systematic data collection methods). Appropriate evidence from secondary and/or primary research needs to be provided throughout the development of the paper.

8.  At times it is necessary to check secondary sources from the Internet for misuse or malpractice. Often a change in the language of the extended essay, a different font, or repeated vague citations of the same author or work in a section or even the use of a phrase that is not normally within the realm of an ITGS student’s vocabulary will be sufficient to trigger further checking. What do you do if you find an instance of malpractice? You will also need to discuss  with the IB coordinator in your school the extended essay with the suspected passages clearly marked along with the evidence that you have collected to show the source of the plagiarized passages. The IB coordinator will need to take the next steps according to school policy.

9.  Analysis and evaluation can emerge within a paper in a variety of ways:

  • comparisons between information from secondary sources or between experts in the field of study
  • comparison between secondary research and outcomes from primary research
  • analyzing/evaluating the results of primary research
  • other instances

10. Since the development of the entire paper is focused on developing the RQ, the RQ should actually be “answered” in the conclusion. Unresolved questions should be included where appropriate.

11. The abstract must include the elements indicated. It is advised that a separate paragraph is used for each. ‘How the investigation was undertaken’ is often missing and we use a ‘best fit’ to determine the mark of 0 or 1. The abstract is actually the entire 4000 word extended essay compressed into at most 300 words. Nothing new!

12. In fact, “best fit” is used to award the marks for all of the criteria in marking ITGS extended essays.

13. The teacher comment and evidence provided in the extended essay are important in awarding marks for holistic judgment (Criterion K).  If these are inconsistent with one another, the evidence in the paper is weighed up against the teacher comment.

All ITGS Extended essays need to present the IT systems related directly to the Research Question. Diagrams are essential in presenting knowledge and assisting the reader in understanding the IT systems.

ITGS terminology needs to be accurate and spelled correctly. The vocabulary used in the paper needs reflect that research has been undertaken and that the student actually understands what they are talking about. The Extended essay needs to reflect research that has been undertaken beyond common knowledge.

Hopefully some of these guidelines will contribute to students achieving a higher level of success in the research process.