International Baccalaureate Organisation research projects

Mar 19, 2021


The International Baccalaureate (IB) offers four high quality, challenging educational programmes to students aged 3 to 19.

The IB programmes focus on fostering critical thinking and building problem-solving skills, while encouraging diversity, international mindedness, curiosity, and a healthy appetite for learning and excellence.

I have been involved in three research projects exploring aspects of the International Baccalaureate.

Student perceptions of the value of the International Baccalaureate extended essay in preparing for university studies

Extended Essay

The overall aim of this project was to explore the learning benefits and outcomes attributable to the IB extended essay in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities, engagement, and other aspects that might prepare students for university studies.
In the project, I explored and analyse the thoughts and feelings of students currently studying in research-led universities who had experience of working on an extended essay. The focus was upon their perceptions of  the extended essay process and the way(s) it matched with and prepared them for university study (or did not).

The final report is available here. This outlines the design of and methods used in the project before discussing the principal themes emerging from the project findings.

Concept-based teaching and learning across IB programmes

concept based curriculum

The International Baccalaureate (IB) has been at the forefront of attempts to develop curricula integrating concept-based teaching and learning (CBTL). This study aimed to assess how consistent efforts to encourage CBTL have been. The final report is available here. 

The first phase of the project involved a literature review to identify principles underpinning effective approaches to CBTL and assessment. The study then closely examined the four IB programmes using these principles as an audit tool. The audit showed that many of the principles arising from the literature review do fit with IB curriculum documents. There were, however, some gaps where it was difficult to find evidence that these principles informed the IB approach. Looking at the nature of these gaps, it was clear that they mostly involved principles that focus on actual classroom action rather than underpinning curriculum structures.


The Impact of the Enhancements made to the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP)


The PYP is a curriculum taught in a wide range of schools across 109 countries of the world. The schools teaching the PYP share the IB philosophy and goal of educating empowered, internationally minded learners, and those learners are diverse.  The enhancements to the PYP were planned to ensure that the principles of the Learner Profile and transdisciplinary framework remained at the heart of the curriculum, but that disciplines could be planned and studied in ways most relevant for those learners. 

This project aimed to explore the views of IB PYP schools and students about the enhancements and their perceived impact.

The final report of the project is available here