The bad thing about IB is that it gives the students a heap of work which induces chronic stress daily. The good thing is, it encourages critical thinking and other academic skills such as research and inquiry.
I was able to practice some of these skills through the IB courses.
In the music course, students are required to complete a research paper designed to mimic ethnomusicological research – comparing two independent musical cultures to find musically relevant links (MLI).
During the search for sources and information on the musical cultures, I conducted a preliminary research clicking on almost all the websites that come up first on Google. This allowed me to amass basic information to have an idea about the cultures and keywords that will lead to deeper research. Another benefit of this explorative research was that I could find the original sources, where the information actually came from which are usually more reliable and detailed.
I was aware of this process before doing the MLI. However, I wasn’t implementing it in my research papers. As music is one of my HL subjects, I tried my best to conduct research that derives accurate and detailed information. Now, whenever there is a project that requires a substantial amount of research I follow this technique:
- Amass basic information through unreliable websites
- Verify the information at the primary sources
- Use keywords obtained to search on databases such as Jstor
TOK is an interdisciplinary course that requires knowledge in a range of areas in order to have examples in a range of AOKs. Using one’s own knowledge in other areas is therefore essential in this course. For my TOK essay, I used my knowledge in psychology about the replication crisis. The Stanford Prison Experiment was one I especially degraded.
On one of the presentations, I used my knowledge in models used to describe an atom to give examples of how models offer a simplistic and often reductionist view of nature.
What I learned through this course in terms of transferability, is to make sure the examples have the same principal ideas. For example, if I need an example of how bias works in different disciplines, it is essential that bias is represented but under a different disciplinary dress.
I also gained a new perspective in terms of knowledge and transfer. Knowledge from specific disciplines is usually incomplete as it is reductionist in nature. For example, I might learn in chemistry how a specific drug works (biology), but not how this impacts an individual mentally and socially from a psychological point of view. Transfer, therefore, occurs in order to fill in the gaps in other disciplines to form an interdisciplinary, more complete knowledge.
For the chemistry Internal Assessment, we are supposed to conduct an experiment that investigates something related to the course, which would demonstrate our skills in the laboratory setting. We had limited time available in the laboratory so it was extremely important to stay organised and efficient. Based on how the experiments worked the day before, it was important to adapt the plan to address the problems that came up. For example, it would take 30 min to prepare my solution of pectin. So I decided to spend an entire class to make all the solution I needed for the IA. In doing so, I had to make sure I noted down the mass of pectin used and organise the different beakers by their pectin concentrations with post-it notes.
What I learned from this experience is not to organise material by numerical numbers. That is the first step. What I think I was made painfully aware of the importance of organizing tasks in relation to the time it takes to achieve them and by type (physical, mental..). This is because often, I found grouping them by types of tasks – solution making in my case – easier as I don’t have to mentally switch from one to another kind. The other aspect I mentioned is best summed up as time management.