During the second year of the IB Biology HL class, students have the opportunity to research, design, perform, and write up their own investigation. This project is known as an internal assessment (IA). Students will spend 10 hours doing this investigation which will provide 20% of the overall assessment for the IB biology score (the IB score, not the class grade).
There is a large variety and range of possible investigations; each student must complete an investigation that is unique and adequately different from those of other students in the course. Students can choose from:
Traditional hands-on experimental work, if necessary following strict ethical guidelines for both human and animal subjects
Database investigations in which students use a database to obtain data to process and analyse the information for the investigation.
Computer simulations in which students process and present the data in such a way that something new is revealed.
The Internal Assessment is assessed (that means ‘graded’) using very strict IB criteria. All IB science teachers world-wide must use the same criteria and apply them in the same way—quite a challenge!! To ensure that everyone is following the rules and applying the criteria correctly, schools must send samples of graded student lab reports to IB for monitoring. If a teacher is being too hard or too soft, that teacher’s marks which were awarded to students will be adjusted accordingly.
The IB Biology Internal Assessment is graded using five IB Internal Assessment Criteria. A maximum score of 24 points* is possible, awarded for the following five criteria:
*The points for the I.A. criteria are IB marks, not class grade book points. The class grade for the final I.A. report is determined in a similar fashion to the way raw tests and quiz scores are adjusted in IB Biology II.
At SHS, the students complete the Internal Assessment during the first semester of the second year of IB Biology. The entire process takes place outside of class over the course of about 16 weeks. The IA project is is broken into discrete "chunks" so that students are not overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project and so that there is ample time for asking questions, getting feedback and completing the experiments. Under no circumstances should a student be procrastinating on this project or surprised by an upcoming deadline.
What follows are links to the documents used in our class to help development of the final paper. Please note that each "button" links to the assignment completed by the student. These assignments are completed roughly 1 week apart from each other, with no class time dedicated to their completion (meaning, this work happens outside of class time).
A note to teachers and students about the IA: Everything in steps 1-14 above is scored for completion, roughly 5-10 class lab points per task. Something small like writing a problem question is worth 5 points, something bigger like the draft of the introduction would be worth 10 points. The teacher will read and approve every problem question - once it is's approved it is added to the list (which everyone can see) and if it's not approved (because it's too simple, too complex, not ethical, or lame...) then the student will be asked to try again. A student cannot move on to the next step in the process until they complete the previous step. Once a problem question has been approved, a student can't change it without discussion with the teacher.
Common feedback is shared with all students but I, as the teacher, actually only spot check the details of a few of the students work. For example, if I get 120 draft introductions turned in, I will randomly read 10 in detail - and anonymously share the feedback from those 10 with all 120 students. Then, for the next section I will repeat with another (different) random 10 students. I do this because there is absolutely NO WAY to read 120 students "in process" IA work. Additionally, the IA is an ASSESSMENT and so per IB guidelines I can't be providing specific feedback to individual students. Students can absolutely talk to me, ask questions, get help.... but it has to be on their initiative not mine.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." John Muir, 1911