Quick Facts about IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Extended Essay (EE)

Posted On 08.10.2019 | Blog


Within the IBDP Curriculum, where do the Theory of Knowledge (TOK) and Extended Essay (EE) belong?

The IB Mission Statement states that the International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect.

In order to achieve the above statement, the IB has 3 core elements:

  1. To create inquiring students, the IBDP has the TOK, or the Theory of knowledge, in which students reflect on the nature of knowledge and on how we know what we claim to know.
  2. To create knowledgeable students, the IBDP has the EE or extended essay, which is an independent, self-directed piece of research, finishing with a 4,000-word paper.
  3. To create caring students, the IBDP has CAS, or Creativity, activity, service, in which students complete a project related to those three concepts.

As the academic representation of the first mission statement, the TOK or EE have been at the heart of the IB.


How does the TOK reflect an inquiring mind?

Theory of knowledge (TOK) is a course taught at the IBDP level. Students, who have passed through IBMYP should have the basic framework to advance into Theory of Knowledge (TOK) at the IBDP level. For some needed context, the 5 years leading up to the IBDP, the middle years programme or IBMYP (grades 5-10 or years 6-11) focuses on “learning how to learn” through the development of approaches to learning (ATL) skills. Approaches to learning skills are all the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that a student learns from interacting with other students, community members (through CAS) and by instruction from their teachers. The complete IB system runs from primary years, middle years, and finally to the last two years - the diploma programme.

Approaches to learning can be broken down into the following, but are not limited to:

communication, collaboration, organization, self-management, reflection, research, informational literacy, media literacy, creative and critical thinking, and transfer of learning.

Interactive teachers who focus on supporting all of the above ATLs in their respective classrooms have built the necessary foundations for students to understand the concepts in the TOK - which is intercultural understanding, global engagement, and personal awareness of knowledge from the perspective of the individual and their respective peers.


How would the ARCH bridge the GAP in understanding the TOK and EE as a product within the IB?

Specifically, ARCH Education helps students understand the overall aim of the TOK, which is understanding how to answer: “how do you know?” in a variety of contexts, and to see the value of that question in creating a life-long partnership with learning.

On a more meaningful level, ARCH Education sees the IBDP as a holistic programme that encompasses two of the core elements: TOK and EE. And at the heart of these elements is the student’s own Real-Life Situation from which both the TOK Knowledge question and the Extended Essay Question are derived.

In the TOK and the EE, personal “insight” is what separates a mediocre paper from a great paper. And through the ARCH pedagogy of teaching, we can framework the necessary skill sets for personal inquiry and academic exploration.