In education, much attention is placed on the validity and authenticity of assessment models. Throughout their academic careers, students spend countless hours preparing to demonstrate their knowledge through class discussions, papers, projects, tests, and quizzes. While there is value in the content knowledge acquired within individual courses, the International Baccalaureate program also emphasizes the development of skills that stretch far beyond the students’ life in Upper School. The IB Core includes elements of both thought and character development, as well as authentic engagement with the skills necessary for success at the university level.
The International Baccalaureate’s extended essay provides students an opportunity to develop their personal interests through independent exploration that mirrors university-level research. Students develop a unique research question under the supervision of a faculty advisor, conducting research and constructing an analysis to address their topics over the course of two academic semesters. The long-term planning, analytical writing, and research skills developed through this process transition seamlessly into the students’ future academic pursuits. Further, because each essay offers a unique topic and approach that allows students the opportunity to further develop an area of interest specific to them, they learn a level of academic autonomy that creates ownership of their own ideas and learning. This capstone experience fosters the passion for knowledge we strive to instill in our students as they transition into life beyond St. Andrew’s.