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The Core

The core elements of our IB Diploma are:

1 – Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

Theory of Knowledge (TOK) allows students to reflect on the nature of knowledge, and on how we know what we claim to know. It is one of the components of the DP core and is mandatory for all IB students. The TOK requirement is central to the educational philosophy of the IB Diploma Programme.

How is TOK taught?

The IB Learner will inquire into different ways of knowing, such as sense perception or reasoning and examine these through different areas of knowledge such as history, ethics or human science to name a few. TOK will also be referenced throughout the IB Diploma Programme by the subjects that are chosen. TOK is composed almost entirely of questions, which should be examined through open ended dialogue. The most central question is “How do we know?”, while other questions would examine evidence allowing the learner to make judgements on the validity of sources. It allows learners to be critical thinkers when reviewing different models and how specific theory can be applied to the real world.

Through discussions of these and other questions, students gain greater awareness of their personal and ideological assumptions, as well as developing an appreciation of the diversity and richness of cultural perspectives.

Assessment of TOK

The TOK course is assessed through an oral presentation (33%) and a 1600-word essay (67%). The presentation assesses the ability of the student to apply TOK thinking to a real-life situation and should be no longer than 30 minutes in length. This is internally assessed and verified by a review from an IB examiner. For the TOK essay, the IB learner selects one essay title from six prescribed essay titles that are produced by the IB in September prior to submission for examinations in May. Students will develop the title to ask knowledge questions, then apply how knowledge is acquired/ developed from different areas of knowledge and ways of knowing inan open-ended manner.

What is the significance of TOK?

TOK aims to make students aware of the interpretative nature of knowledge, including personal ideological biases – whether these biases are retained, revised or rejected. It offers students the opportunity to reflect critically on diverse ways of knowing and on areas of knowledge. Students consider the role and nature of knowledge in their own culture and in the cultures of others from around the world. TOK offers opportunities for students to be aware of themselves as thinkers, encouraging them to become more acquainted with the complexity of knowledge. Students are encouraged to recognise the need to act responsibly in an increasingly interconnected but uncertain world allowing them to apply their knowledge with greater awareness and credibility.

2- Creativity Activity Service (CAS)

CAS is at the heart of the Diploma Programme and, with its holistic approach, is designed to strengthen and extend students’ personal and interpersonal learning. CAS is one of the things that sets the IB Diploma apart from other courses at this level. Through the CAS programme, students develop awareness of, concern for, and the ability to cooperate with others. The philosophy is to develop all areas of a student’s potential, to educate the whole person and to encourage the development of individual talents. CAS complements a challenging academic programme in a holistic way and acknowledges the need to become involved in physical recreation, theatre productions, artistic pursuits, community service work and other worthwhile activities. The CAS coordinator looks after the programme and ensures active student engagement.

Over the two year IB Diploma Programme, DP students devote their time to CAS experiences on a regular basis, ensuring a balance between the three strands: Creativity, Activity and Service.

CAS involves students in a range of enjoyable and significant experiences, as well as a CAS project.

Throughout the CAS programme, students need to show that they have had real-life experiences involving the following 7 Learning Outcomes:

  1. - Identify your own strengths and develop areas for personal growth
  2. - Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
  3. - Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience
  4. - Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
  5. - Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively
  6. - Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
  7. - Recognise and consider the ethics of choices and actions

Although CAS is not formally assessed and students do not receive points for CAS towards their final IB score, they cannot pass the Diploma without it. This reflects the focus on process within the IB Diploma Programme. It is not just about outcomes – what grade a student eventually receives – but also about how they get there and how they develop both as learners and as young people.

3 – The Extended Essay (EE)

One of the most interesting and challenging components of the IB Diploma Programme is to undertake independent research into a topic of special interest to the student and then write an Extended Essay of up to 4,000 words. The Extended Essay is a compulsory, externally assessed piece of independent research into a topic chosen by the student and presented as a formal piece of academic writing.

The Extended Essay is intended to promote high-level research and writing skills, intellectual discovery and creativity while engaging students in personal research. This leads to a major piece of formally presented, structured writing of up to 4,000 words in which ideas and findings are communicated in a reasoned, coherent and appropriate manner.

Students at NAS Dubai are guided through the prescribed Extended Essay process of research and writing by an assigned supervisor (a teacher in the school). All students undertake three mandatory reflection sessions with their supervisor, including a short concluding interview (or viva voce), following the completion of the Extended Essay.

Extended Essay topics may be chosen from a list of approved DP subjects normally one of the student’s six chosen subjects for the IB Diploma or the World Studies option. World Studies provides students with the opportunity to carry out an in-depth interdisciplinary study of an issue of contemporary global significance, using two IB disciplines. The aims of the Extended Essay are to provide students with the opportunity to:

  • engage in independent research with intellectual initiative and rigour
  • develop research, thinking, self-management and communication skills
  • reflect on what has been learned throughout the research and writing process.

Students will start their preparations for the Extended Essay in the spring term of Year 12 and they will need to complete the research or data collection ideally before the end of the summer term so that the final essay can be submitted at the start of the autumn term in Year 13. The IB recommend that a student devotes a total of about 40 hours of private study and writing time to the essay. This is excellent preparation for the kind of thesis students are required to write at college/university and it acquaints them with research and academic writing skills needed for success.

 

For further information, please contact the Head of Sixth Form, Mrs Louise Brown, via the email address below:

Louise.Brown@nasdubai.ae