The new extended essay (EE) guide has been out for a while now – how are you doing with it? Has it changed much in the way you set up and run your EE programme?

From the chemistry side of things, I hope you have not seen many (if any changes). Students still need to carry out research and whilst not compulsory, will hopefully carry out some lab based research. That has all stayed the same.

The research question (RQ) is also important (in my opinion, it is the backbone of the EE, a poor RQ will lead to a poor EE)

However, it is probably the approach to the assessment criteria that has changed, not forgetting the three reflections, evidence on the ‘Reflections on planning and progress form’ (RPPF). There is also the ‘new’ idea of mark bands being used for assessment …. But you are OK with that aren’t you as it is the principle as with the IA?!

How have you approached giving student’s advice on the five assessment criteria (Focus and Method, Knowledge and Understanding, Critical Thinking, Presentation, Engagement)?

In my opinion, the criteria are much simpler to use than the old criteria and offer the student much more flexibility in their approach to make the EE their own.

When it comes to the write up, signposting I believe is important in the EE. By this I mean the use of subheadings that relate to the assessment criteria. For example, if you consider criterion A, Focus and Method. In the 5-6 mark band there are three sub heading related to communication, research question and methodology. In a write up I would personally encourage students to use the sub headings ‘Explanation of the Research Topic’, ‘Research Question’, ‘Method’, ‘Sources for Method’. Reasons for the choice of Method’, and so on as these directly relate to the assessment criteria.

By Dan Brunner (Dan Brunner, email) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The tricky assessment criterion I believe is criterion C, Critical Thinking. Not only does it count for a sizeable portion of the final EE mark it demands high expectations of students if they are going to achieve the 10-12 mark band score. For example, making consistent and relevant research appropriate the research question, or critically evaluating the research – something that will be subjective to say the least.

The final challenge I believe we have as supervisors is making sure the reflection form is completed and kept up to date. Yes, it’s the students responsibility but we need to ensure they are aware of this and remember to do it (there are plenty of other things they need to remember, so it’s only natural they will forget something!)

What are your views on the ‘new’ EE – do you love it or hate it? I’d love to read your thoughts below!