Under the extended essay criteria for ‘Engagement’, students are awarded a maximum 6 marks out of 34 for writing the a 500 word reflection on the Planning, Research, and Writing phases of their EE. This means the reflections are worth 19% of the total EE score, and can often swing a your score from a B to A. We will review the EE reflection rubrics and explain what it takes to score maximum marks for this component.

According to the International Baccalaureate (IB), Reflection in the EE focuses on the student’s progress during the Planning, Research and Writing process. It is intended to help students with the development of their EE as well as allowing them the opportunity consider the effectiveness of their methodology and decide whether changes are needed along the way.

For the first reflection- Planning

You should discuss how you started the EE, framed your research question, and reflect on the decisions you have made. The first reflection should provide a critical evaluation of the initial decision-making, research process, methodology, and appropriate sources of data collection. Some examples of what to discuss include

  • How will I begin the research process?
  • Do I have access to appropriate sources?
  • Are my chosen research methods appropriate for the subject I have chosen to complete it in?

It is important to not just describe what you have done. Instead, reflect on your thinking process. Did you make the right decisions? What challenges have you faced in the initial stages of your research and how did you overcome them? More importantly, how would you change your planning the next time you do a research like this?

For the interim reflection- Writing

In this second reflection, a student must review the progress that he or she has made in the research. Effective reflection highlights the journey a student has taken to engage in an intellectual and personal process. The reflection should present challenges faced in data collection, content generation, and how you intend to overcome them. For instance, will you reformulate the research question, or will you consider other sources of data collection? Examiners love it when students explain significant challenges and demonstrate good ability to sidestep them. This learning process should be well documented and your reflection stands out if you can explain this in your own voice, demonstrate the discovery and evolution of conceptual understandings and skills development. The IB wants to see how you have evidenced the rationale for decisions made throughout the planning process and the skills and understandings developed. Some examples of what to discuss include

  • If I do not have sufficient data/information, how will I go about resolving this? Can it be resolved?
  • To what extent does the data/information I have relate to my proposed research question?
  • Given the data/information I have collected, do I need to reformulate my research question?
  • Has the data/information collected taken me in an unexpected direction?
  • Do I have a reasoned argument that can be sustained throughout the essay?
  • Am I able to make coherent links between different points made and the evidence presented?
  • To what extent have I answered my research question?

For the final reflection- Viva voce

The final reflection is written after the EE is submitted. You will not be allowed to make further changes to the EE at this point. Thus, this reflection is a post-essay reflection. You should discuss what you have learned about your topic, how you undertook the entire research process. What, if any questions emerged as a result of the research that you were not expecting? Most importantly, critically evaluate your own learning, as well as outline any new questions you have uncovered and how you found a solution for them- if any. Conclude by examining how you would do this research differently- if you were to do it again. Some examples of what to discuss include

  • To what extent has my thinking been confirmed or changed about my chosen topic as a result of my research?
  • What strategies did I employ that proved particularly effective in the research process?
  • What skills have I developed and how might these be useful in the future?
  • What improvements might I suggest to my own working practices?
  • How might different research strategies have impacted my outcomes?