For my Junior Diploma Candidates’ session #2 OPVL

For the Pre-TOK session #2, below is your assignment.

The task below assists in helping you master what you need to know and do as diploma candidates concerning the History IA during your Junior Year.

You will need to teach yourself about Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitation [OPVL]- the four-part analysis that is one important facet of your Internal Assessment.  In order to better understand OPVL, you will need to read this handout that explains it thoroughly.  Then, you’ll need to apply your understanding by creating an analysis of the histories in documents one and two below.  You’ll need access to two documents on Reconstruction during the post-Civil War era in U. S. History.  Here are links to both document one and to document two.

As you work on this, you will need to consider the limitations of academic historical writing.  When you think about what historinans have written, you must do more than identify what is not included in the work. In addition, you should thoughtfully consider the issue – How has this scholar addressed this subject?

Other questions to consider are: What are some limits to how this scholar has approached this subject?  Limits may include (but are not limited to): sources considered to construct the work, the education and background of the scholar, and the word choice used to craft the work.

An important warning should include this – that this assignment is not ‘looking for bias’.  If anything, searching for bias has a role in other things you’d do when reading a history, but this task is different from that one.

After reading and analyzing these two documents, you should produce a one-page OPVL analysis on each of the two documents linked above.  Please print these two products, staple them together and turn them in to ms. Lund before leaving class.

If you’re smart, you will consider some of the assessor’s feedback (below) published in the May 2012 subject report [sent to Mr. Raines] last year.  Ask him about what he thinks.

May 2012 subject reports: Candidate performance against each criterion

Criterion A – Plan of the investigation

Most candidates were able to clearly express the research question and their approach or method to investigate it. As with past years a number of candidates did not state the research question in the plan of investigation while many outlined the scope and method. Some candidates used this section to provide a lengthy introduction instead of developing the scope and method for the investigation. Too often the research question was too broad with limited focus. There continues to be a group of candidates that simply state the two sources that they will evaluate for section C and believe that this qualifies as “method”.

Criterion B – Summary of evidence

Many of the historical investigations were well researched and the evidence clearly presented and referenced, though not always thoroughly or consistently. Referencing seemed to be improved slightly but there continues to be concerns due to a lack of referencing which limits the amount that can be awarded for this section to a maximum of two marks. Candidates continued to blend sections B and D, with analysis demonstrated in the summary of evidence, section B, and new evidence being used in section D, analysis.

Criterion C – Evaluation of sources

In this session strong candidates evaluated two sources adequately, explicitly developing origin, purpose, value and limitations. A number of candidates clearly identified their sources’ origin and purpose yet their actual evaluation was often limited to a consideration of the sources’ content and consequent utility, with little or no assessment of the sources’ possible reliability in terms of their origin and purpose. Many candidates lacked detailed knowledge of the sources and included assertions and speculative points which they do not successfully support. Allegations of bias were seldom supported by evidence. Many candidates also made a poor choice of the sources to evaluate. There seems to be an increase in selecting small excerpts from a larger source and then evaluating the excerpt and not the actual source.

Criterion D – Analysis

At the upper mark level candidates successfully utilized critical analysis of the evidence presented in section B with explicit references to the significance of the sources evaluated in section C. At the lower mark levels critical analysis was often limited with many candidates not fully analyzing the evidence presented in section B or demonstrating explicit awareness of the significance of the sources evaluated in section C. There seems to be an increase in new evidence being placed in this section which attempts to compensate for a lack of evidence in section B. The candidate would improve the quality of the summary of evidence as well as receiving credit for the material if it was correctly placed. In samples where research questions were not clearly stated, the resulting analysis was unfocused and lacked depth. There continues to be a lack of understanding by some candidates and centres that it is necessary to include references to be awarded a mark above two.

Criterion E – Conclusion

The majority did have a consistent conclusion, supported by the evidence presented. Even though the majority were consistent there seemed to be an increase in inconsistent conclusions.

Criterion F – Sources and word limit

Many candidates produced a list of sources using a standard citation and referencing method consistently yet there was some variation in the presentation of bibliographies with a number of candidates needing more guidance concerning the necessary conventions. A few candidates exceeded the word limit when a small amount of editing would have allowed the sample to stay within the limits of the investigation. There seemed to be fewer candidates this year that did not place the word count on the title page.

For Monday, please bring a newest copy of your essay…

Please also bring the drafts and the peer editing that you’ve received to this point.  We will be watching The Matrix in class – the remaining editing and revising to your essay should be happening in your free time.

As you consider making changes to your essay…

Remember that tomorrow, Thursday, November 21st, you should bring a revised copy of your essay, the initial draft, and your journal.  We will work on refining knowledge issues from there.

In addition, as you make your revisions tonight, consider these abbreviated comments from the IB Assessors – I’ve chosen the comments that seem most pertinent to the issues I’ve seen in both your drafts and your outlines this week.

Good Luck.

Degree and quality of apparent teacher guidance

While it must be recorded that some essays appeared to indicate the input of good guidance from teachers concerning the unpacking of essay titles, many examiners continue to worry about the schism between those candidates who seem to have received too much, or inappropriate, assistance:

 “There were so many essays which were obviously following a taught template, with standard examples.”

 “Quite a few candidates seem to have been guided to write an essay with a canned format: restate the title, define the terms using a dictionary, state a knowledge issue, at some point force in an example from some personal non-academic experience…”

 And a larger group of candidates who seem to have been afforded none at all:

 “It was very clear in many instances that candidates had been given no help whatsoever. In such instances, candidates were left to write meandering ramblings which, although personal, had no resemblance to an argument.”

 “Many had only a superficial understanding of the essay question and appeared to be submitting a first draft.”

 “It is a pity that a large number of essays could have scored better marks with some simple suggestions or advice from the teachers.”

A number of examiners noted a prevalence of essays this session that leaned heavily toward the minimum permitted word count, as if candidates simply wished to do only just what it takes to fulfill the Diploma requirement for TOK. This is not only disappointing, but exerts a downward pressure on results as it is quite difficult to construct a high-quality essay in only 1,200 words. It is hoped that the removal of the minimum word-count from the requirements in the new program will encourage future candidates to work towards the maximum figure – which will remain 1,600 words.

 Treatment of knowledge issues

Some examiners noted some improvements in this area:

 “In most cases, the candidates appropriately used the prescribed title as the central knowledge issue for the essay.”

 “This session there was quite a heavy shift away from overtly stating knowledge issues in the introduction, to embedding them in the body of the papers. To a large degree papers did actually address knowledge issues, though few papers did so consistently.”

 “I’m finding that more candidates are expressly mentioning knowledge issues. In such instances, the discussion is far more likely to be focused. Too many candidates however, simply restate the prompt in different words, posing this as their solitary knowledge issue.”

While others felt moved to indicate that:

 “Some candidates appeared to have been advised to rephrase the title as a knowledge issue and then focus the essay on that issue. This sometimes resulted in the whole essay being off topic. Candidates should be advised to stick to knowledge issues that are necessary to answer the essay question thoroughly.”

 “The passage from prescribed title to knowledge issues is a hazardous one. The prescribed titles (the prompts) are phrased in a way that is designed to suggest a cluster of immediate knowledge issues that are necessary to tackle as part of an answer to the question. Often candidates are producing knowledge issues that do not sit easily on the line from question to answer and in many cases produced ‘knowledge issues’ that are nothing of the sort. This is still an area that needs a lot of attention.”

knowledge issues, … are questions that could possibly arise within a candidate’s attempt to develop a line of analysis. They might be thought of as stepping stones along the route chosen by the candidate for exploring the prescribed title, but they should never appear to be the origin of the analysis itself – it should always be possible to re-trace the line of development back to the prescribed title.

Additionally: “Candidates are encouraged, wherever possible, to treat ways of knowing within a context of areas of knowledge (related in particular to criterion A) or supported by concrete examples, in order to avoid treatment in the abstract. Addressing them in isolation or without reference to established knowledge easily leads to anecdotal claims and unsophisticated and unrealistic hypothetical examples which add little to the understanding of learning and knowing.”

And teachers are urged:

 to emphasise that the term “sense perception”, or even merely “perception”, should be used in TOK only in connection to knowledge that is acquired in ways that involve the direct use of the senses. In TOK discourse, “perception” is not a synonym for “perspective” or “point of view”

 to encourage the view that emotion, as a way of knowing, has many positive qualities that can be discussed and is not some sort of “poor cousin” in this category – there are still a significant number of essays that assume that emotion is the antithesis of reason and that this position is self-evident and does not need further discussion or justification.

Concerning knowledge issues…

If it seems difficult looking for ways to expand your thesis to better cover knowledge issues, the exercise below might be a way to break through the difficulty.  Try  the following:

 Please write potential knowledge issues inherent in the following prompts:

 Knowledge is generated through the interaction of critical and creative thinking.  Evaluate this statement in two areas of knowledge. 

 Compare and contrast knowledge which can be expressed in words/symbols with knowledge that cannot be expressed in this way.  Consider CAS and one or more areas of knowledge. 

 When should we discard explanations that are intuitively appealing?

 ‘The vocabulary we have does more than communicate our knowledge; it shapes what we can know’.  Evaluate this claim with reference to different areas of knowledge.  

Analze the strengths and weaknesses of using faith as a basis fo knowledge in religion and in one area of knowldge from the ToK diagram?


Then click here to see answers from the IB gods…

Pre-ToK Makeup assignment for Junior Diploma Candidates

Students who missed Pre-ToK session #2 should do the following makeup assignment:

Read the book “A Drop of Water” from the Skyline Library.  When you’ve considered the knowledge in the book and compared that knowledge to what you knew already, respond to the following prompt:

“Knowledge gives us a sense of who we are.”  To what extent is this true in the Human Sciences and one other Area of Knowledge?

Your essay will be marked according to the assessment criteria published in the Theory of Knowledge guide. The focus of your essays should be on knowledge issues. Where appropriate, refer to other parts of your IB programme and to your experiences as a knower. Always justify your statements and provide relevant examples to illustrate your arguments. Pay attention to the implications of your arguments, and remember to consider what can be said against them. If you use external sources, cite them according to a recognized convention.

Respond to the title exactly as given; do not alter it in any way.

Your essay must be between 1200 and 1600 words in length, double spaced and typed in size 12 font.