The Reflection Process

Student reflections are the sole basis for the 5th Criterion, Engagement. These reflections are written at different points of the year after holding formal sessions with the mentor.  The I.B. has prepared a very useful GUIDE to regarding these reflection sessions. I’ll be summarizing from that guide in this module.

All three reflections are written solely by the student after holding a Reflection Session with the mentor. The reflections are submitted to Managebac’s Planning and Progress section. (See image to left). All three written reflections must not exceed a combined word count of 500. Students who aren’t completing their reflections in a timely fashion receive counselling from the Extended Essay Coordinator.

The I.B. does have some instructional videos to support the Reflection Process. A video about the First and Interim reflection sessions can be found HERE. A video covering the Viva Voce can be found HERE.

Reflection #1: Generally held during the first month.

This session, which runs for about 20-30 minutes allows the mentor and the student to discuss initial explorations. It is recommended that the student provides their research proposal ahead of the meeting in order to give the supervisor the opportunity to review their work. This will ensure that the reflection session is focused and productive. Managebac’s Reflection Space is the ideal place for the student to share that information.

Topics of discussion that should arise during this session include:

  • a review of the requirements and assessment criteria for the subject
  • a review of ethical and legal implications, if applicable
  • a dialogue about possible approaches and potential problems that might arise
  • a discussion of strategies for developing the student’s ideas for the essay and expanding the research so that the essay starts to take form
  • probing and challenging questions that will help students focus their thinking; this should lead to the development of the student’s working research question
  • an outline of the next steps that the student should undertake in order to refine their question; this should take the form of a research and writing timeline.

Reflection #2: Generally held after major research and some writing has been done. This reflection session might be held as early as May/June or as late as early September.

This session is a continuation of the dialogue between supervisor and student in which the student must demonstrate the progress they have made in their research. They must also be able to discuss any challenges they have encountered, offer their own potential solutions and seek advice as necessary.

During this session the supervisor might discuss:

  • a completed piece of sustained writing from the student in order to ensure that they understand the academic writing requirements, including referencing formats
  • whether an appropriate range of sources has been accessed and how the student is critically evaluating the origin of those sources
  • what the student now has to do in order to produce the full draft of their essay, and ways and means of breaking down the task into manageable steps.

By the end of the interim reflection session both student and supervisor should feel satisfied that there is:

  • a clear and refined research question
  • a viable argument on which to base the essay
  • a sufficient range of appropriate sources
  • a clear vision for the final steps in the writing process.

Reflection #3: Known as the Viva Voce, this interview takes place after the assessment of the Final Submission. It likely takes place in January or February. Students are mandated to submit this final reflection to Managebac within 24-48 hours of the interview.

The viva voce is a short interview between the student and the supervisor, and is the mandatory conclusion to the extended essay process. Students who do not attend the viva voce will be disadvantaged under criterion E (engagement) as the Reflections on planning and progress form will be incomplete. At this point in the process no further changes can be made to the essay. The viva voce is a celebration of the completion of the essay and a reflection on what the student has learned from the process.

The viva voce is:

  • an opportunity to ask the student a variety of open-ended questions to elicit holistic evidence of the student’s learning experience.
  • an opportunity for the supervisor to confirm the authenticity of the student’s ideas and sources
  • an opportunity to reflect on successes and difficulties encountered in the research process
  • an aid to the supervisor’s comments on the Reflections on planning and progress form.

Assessment of the Reflections

Criterion E assesses the student’s engagement with their research focus and the research process. It will be applied by the examiner at the end of the assessment of the essay, and is based solely on the candidate’s reflections as detailed on the RPPF, with the supervisory comments and extended essay itself as context.

Level Descriptor of strands and indicators
0 The work does not reach a standard outlined by the descriptors or a RPPF has not been submitted.

Engagement is limited.

  • Reflections on decision-making and planning are mostly descriptive.
  • These reflections communicate a limited degree of personal engagement with the research focus and/or research process.

Engagement is good.

  • Reflections on decision-making and planning are analytical and include reference to conceptual understanding and skill development.
  • These reflections communicate a moderate degree of personal engagement with the research focus and process of research, demonstrating some intellectual initiative.

Engagement is excellent.

  • Reflections on decision-making and planning are evaluative and include reference to the student’s capacity to consider actions and ideas in response to challenges experienced in the research process.
  • These reflections communicate a high degree of intellectual and personal engagement with the research focus and process of research, demonstrating authenticity, intellectual initiative and/or creative approach in the student voice.

(Criterion E Assessment, IB Publishing, URL.)