Exploring Internal Assessments

Find out more about internal assessments and how they work in the context of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.

Life for students at the Western International School of Shanghai who are part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is about to get busy. What students undergo academically demands a healthy respect in the best of times; however, for graduating students, the context is even more impressive. Undoubtedly, general lockdowns and COVID protection policies have increased the challenge for everyone.

Learning has been interrupted by school closures, compound lockdowns, and online learning. Projects and examinations were rescheduled and then rescheduled again. And yet students have demonstrated resilience and perseverance time and time again.

Over the next couple of months, our Diploma Programme students will finalize and submit their culminating projects known as Internal Assessments (IA). Internal Assessments are pieces of work that students undertake with minimal support from faculty and staff. Students are solely in control of what topics they choose to explore. Teachers can guide the research, but it is up to the student to make the final decisions. This process allows students to immerse themselves into a subject area that may not be covered in a course syllabus. It also encourages students to build upon their inquiry skills developed in the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP).

Not only are students afforded the opportunity to enrich their understanding of Approaches to Learning (ATL), but they also begin to make stronger connections to Theory of Knowledge (TOK) by wrestling with the limits of knowledge in a specific field. The total weight of the Internal Assessment might differ between subject areas; however, they are included in the final score calculation. These projects are also great for university admission applications. The work that students produce for an Internal Assessment is genuinely remarkable, demonstrating the student’s ability to perform upper-level work for university selection committees.

The Diploma Programme teaching staff has been mindful to spread out due dates and deadlines as much as possible; nevertheless, December and January are going to be busy months. Winter Break and the Chinese Lunar New Year will be spent finishing projects and improving drafts. Parents, be aware that students need this quiet time to put in their best effort, which will help them realize their greatest potential. Keep in mind, Internal Assessments aren’t just another tick of the box; they are an opportunity for students to discover their purpose, feed a passion, and launch life after WISS.

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