Issuu on Google+

www.acs-schools.com

Reflections on the IB Diploma A survey of ACS International Baccalaureate Alumni

An ACS International Schools special report Spring 2012


22159 IB Alumni Survey 2012:Layout 1

4/12/12

11:37 AM

Page 3

Table of Contents

Page Introduction

1

Key findings

2

Methodology

3

Results/Questions

3

1. In which year did you finish your IB Diploma studies?

3

2. Do you have any regrets about studying for the IB Diploma?

3

3. Would you say you gained any stand-out qualities or benefits from studying the IB Diploma which are distinctive to IB students?

4

4. Could you describe what you feel those stand-out qualities or benefits are?

5

5. Did you find it difficult not to be able to give up any particular subjects?

5

6. How do you feel now about having continued to study those subjects?

5

7. Could you describe what difference it made to you by studying a wide range of subjects?

6

8. Compared to your peers studying for other qualifications at the time, how much work did you feel you had to do as part of the IB Diploma?

7

9. Can you describe what difference, if any, that work difference has made to you?

7

10. With the amount of work the IB Diploma requires, do you feel that there was any room for having fun and enjoying your study?

8

11. What effect has the discipline of CAS (Creativity, Action, Service), the Extended Essay or the TOK (Theory of Knowledge) had on you would you say?

9

12. Did the IB Diploma help or hinder you to make your next step?

10

13. If you had your time again, would you choose to study the IB Diploma?

10

Introduction ACS International Schools has been offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBD) since 1986, making it one of the most experienced IB schools in the UK and indeed the world. Internationally, the number of schools offering the IBD has increased by 36 per cent in the past five years. In the US the number of high schools offering the IBD has increased by 31 per cent and here at ACS we have seen a significant increase in the number of students studying for the IB programme in recent years. Nevertheless, in the UK, following several years of growth in the number of schools offering the IBD, a few high schools have ceased to offer the qualification this past year and have returned to the national A level system.

1


Compared to many educational programmes, the IBD requires greater breadth and depth of teaching, specialist training and ongoing professional development. It is a complex programme to deliver and is also demanding of the student. To assist students, and their parents, considering the IB Diploma, ACS has published a number of researchbased reports about this programme of study. For the past six years we have conducted a survey of university admissions officers to record their views on the IB Diploma and a range of other equivalent qualifications. In the UK and US university admissions officers have consistently rated the IBD as the strongest qualification to thrive at university*, and we will repeat the survey again in 2012. Recent data from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA**) has proved that IBD students are more likely to complete their university degree, more likely to achieve a 1st and twice as likely to study for medicine or dentistry than A level students. One view which we believe should be heard though is that of the IBD students themselves. In the spirit of IB enquiry and reflection, we invited ACS alumni to tell us how they felt about studying for the IB Diploma at ACS International Schools. We would like to thank each and every one of our alumni who responded for sharing their thoughts with us in such an open and honest manner. The results are in many cases personal and poignant, together they are also very powerful. The complete results are presented to you here in this short report.

Fergus Rose Head of Marketing and Admissions ACS International Schools *ACS university admissions officers survey, 2006 – 2011 **IBO May 12, 2011 Press release

Key Findings

86% say they gained specific qualities from studying for the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IBD). The top two qualities were that they felt more prepared for university and gained a better understanding of learning and how to apply it.

A third of students said they found it hard not to be able to give up subjects, but 91% said they were glad that they continued with them as part of the Diploma.

The top two qualities which respondents felt they gained from studying a broad range of subjects were a deeper or broader knowledge and better preparation for university.

90% said they felt the IBD involved more work than the other qualifications their peers were studying, but 85% said there was still room for having fun and enjoying their study.

The overall effect of the extra work it took to complete the IBD was felt to be positive, with a host of different qualities gained from the experience.

94% said the IBD helped them to take their next steps after leaving ACS.

2


22159 IB Alumni Survey 2012:Layout 1

4/12/12

11:37 AM

Page 5

Methodology

The research was conducted among ACS International School alumni, through an email survey issued to IBD alumni who had graduated since 2007. A total of 71 students took part with 50% of respondents having completed their IBD in 2008 or 2009. The feedback from all of the respondents is presented in this report. We have used an aggregate presentation of results to respect the anonymity of our alumni, and where comments have been used in verbatim, the respondent has given their permission.

Results

1. In which year did you finish your IB Diploma studies? YEAR

%

Before 2000

3

2000

2

2001

0

2002

0

2003

2

2004

0

2005

7

2006

3

2007

7

2008

25

2009

25

2010

13

2011

13

TOTAL

100

2. Do you have any regrets about studying for the IB Diploma? % Yes

14

No

86

Don’t know

3

0


3. Would you say you gained any ‘stand-out’ qualities or benefits from studying the IB Diploma which are distinctive to IB students? Yes

86%

No

7%

Don’t know

7% 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

4. Could you describe what you feel those ‘stand-out’ qualities or benefits are? The key themes from the open text responses have been chosen for the graph below. A sample of the open text comments are also included for illustration. More prepared for university

22%

Understood learning and how to apply it

21%

More well-rounded education/ Better global citizen

18%

Learned how to work hard and developed good organisational skills and time management

15%

Confident in abilities

12%

Enjoyed studying a wide range of subjects & topics

9%

Kept more options open; had more choice

3%

0

5

10

15

20

25

“ •

Not just a large amount of knowledge and academic skill, but also an understanding of the tools and methods used to gain such knowledge, and a confidence in my abilities.

I feel that, compared to A-Level students, I have obtained much better communication and work ethic skills as well as a much better understanding of being a global citizen.

Extremely well rounded, academic diligence and discipline. The theory of knowledge and extended essay were both extremely helpful for my first year university studies. I was far better prepared for my first year university studies than any of my A-level educated peers.

The IB gives students a wide knowledge base to build on, rather than limiting them to a single field. I believe A-level students who focused on scientific disciplines lack basic knowledge in areas such as arts and humanities, and vice versa.

4


22159 IB Alumni Survey 2012:Layout 1

4/12/12

11:37 AM

Page 7

I genuinely understand a broad range of topics, which I can apply to my current course at university. For example, the other day I was doing reading for my course (international politics) and came across some economics. It felt so good to be able to understand everything easily, as I knew that non-economics students would struggle with the material. Even though there do not seem to be immediate links between what I studied for the IB and what I am studying now, I can see how much it has benefitted me. I cannot stress enough how glad I am to have done the IB. It is actually a source of pride.

I'm far better at textual analysis than my friends who've taken other courses are, and I've also been more challenged. I would also say I'm better at critically analysing things, and that I have better organisational and study skills than most people I know here at university.

The beauty of the IB is that you learn to appreciate learning and how to apply the knowledge, rather than simply memorising facts.

Unlike so many A-level students I know at university, the IB has taught me how to criticise and analyse, not just describe, as well as write and format (e.g. referencing) essays properly. I am also a more confident person knowing I can try my hand at a range of subjects and succeed.

It gave me the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects which I would not have continued with if I had taken A-levels. This also meant I had to learn how to balance my time and effort in each of the subjects.

5. Did you find it difficult not to be able to give up any particular subjects? % Yes

32

No

68

Don’t know

0

6. How do you now feel about having continued to study those subjects? Extremely glad I carried on

45% 46%

Fairly glad No particular feelings either way

4%

Still regret having to carry on with them

4%

Extremely sad or cross that I had to carry on with them

0% 0

5

10

20

30

40

50


7. Could you describe what difference it made to you by studying a broad range of subjects? The key themes from the open text responses have been chosen for the graph below. A sample of the open text comments are also included for illustration. Broader or deeper knowledge/ Much better education

31% 21%

Better preparation for university

20%

Good knowledge across different areas A more complete and grounded individual/ More open-minded

17%

Appreciate different ways of thinking

4%

Too much work

4%

Limits individual subject specialisation

2%

Enjoyed a subject I didn’t before

1%

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

“ •

I feel that it was definitely more challenging; however, in the long run it paid off. The world is becoming more interdisciplinary all the time. I am glad that I started off with a diverse range of subjects.

I am studying medicine and I appreciate the non-scientific knowledge I was able to gain, as it helps me to understand people's perspectives, cultures and beliefs better.

Broad range of studies has led to broad-mindedness and an appreciation of different ways of thinking and learning.

I do not think six subjects is a broad range. In some countries the high school study covers even more subjects.

To this day, I'm glad I have been exposed to the wide variety of subjects in the IB, because it gives me a basic understanding that can be applied to so many interesting topics.

I feel like I had a more well-rounded educational experience than if I had been able to just drop key subjects I wasn't interested in at the time

Having continued subjects in the IB which were not my preferred field of study paid off because I feel I can tackle more advanced problems with my heightened general knowledge due to the IB.

When I left school I was fluent in two languages which has proved to be valuable.

It meant that I could make links between subjects which I am finding useful at university. However, at times I would have liked to focus more on the subjects I was interested in rather than spending time studying subjects which I am not going to use later in life, e.g. Maths.

“ 6


22159 IB Alumni Survey 2012:Layout 1

4/12/12

11:37 AM

Page 9

8. Compared to your peers studying for other qualifications at the time, how much work did you feel you had to do as part of the IBD? Much more

74%

A little bit more

16% 6%

About the same A little bit less

3% 1%

Much less 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

9. Can you describe what difference if any that work difference has made to you? A sample of the open text comments are included below for illustration.

7

I am much more confident in my abilities. However I would say that the academic advantages of the IB have not kept me ahead of my peers for long. It is the interest and intellectual curiosity that has.

Allowed me to use my time more efficiently, improved my study skills, made me prioritise my work.

I think that IB students like to make a big deal about how much work they do! That is not to say it isn’t a lot of work, but it’s not nearly as bad as some people say it is. You can’t drop any classes, and that makes it tough. But no single, high pressure test is going to make or break your overall score, and I think that makes for a lower-stress, more sustainable work environment that more closely replicates what post-secondary and professional work feels like.

At university level I find that I do not have as much stress when approaching independent work and am able to approach situations with a more level head and a greater understanding of the topic.

I know a lot of people complain about the workload, and in comparison to a lot of students studying for other qualifications it is a lot and it is harder because it isn't all about memorisation. I do feel people exaggerate the amount of work.

Time management skills are much better and motivation is stronger. Knowing that I am capable of doing it is also a huge confidence boost.

It enhanced my time management skills, as well as teaching me how to work in different fields, which proved extremely useful for university.

I found the work load to be unnecessary. I felt I could not balance my time adequately between subjects because each class was asking for a vast quantity of work in a space of time which was not viable. I felt I couldn't enjoy my classes or my last two years of high school because there was so much pressure to focus solely on deadlines that the enjoyment of high school was forgotten.


CAS seemed like quite a tedious chore instead of a tool designed to broaden my learning to out of classroom activities. However, I feel like I managed to overcome it and it has made me more proud of what I have achieved.

Not much; I had so much I had to do, I had little time to actually consolidate that knowledge. The students studying other courses were really able to learn what they did, which made them much more able at their subjects.

10. With the amount of work the IBD requires, do you feel that there was any room for having fun and enjoying your study? % Yes

85

No

8

Don’t know

7

“ •

It was definitely possible to balance work and pleasure. Many CAS activities were activities I would have performed even without taking part in the IB, such as participating in sports teams, playing a musical instrument and going to the Hague International Model United Nations.

There was definitely enough time to hang out with friends after school and during weekends. You just needed the basic discipline of completing work on time.

At the end of the week there is always time to hang out with friends and just have a good time. If you work properly you will have time to spare.

Even though there was a lot of work required in the IB programme, the teachers made the learning interesting and fun.

I think that the curriculum was VERY flexible, and it allowed me to really pursue my own questions and interests. The internal assessments were great. I remember an English presentation I prepared on Henrick Ibsen because I wanted to read more of his plays, and a History paper I wrote on religion in the USSR. I was really able to explore topics that I found interesting.

The people that got a score of 45 had no social life whatsoever.

The pressure was felt most of the time especially when approaching deadlines and exams.

Because there were so many subjects which we had to focus on, I felt I couldn't go into depth in my favourite ones, but rather had to drill bits of information in a uniform manner rather than actually learning things in an enjoyable way.

“ 8


22159 IB Alumni Survey 2012:Layout 1

4/12/12

11:37 AM

Page 11

11. What effect has the discipline of CAS (Creativity, Action, Service), the Extended Essay or the TOK (Theory of Knowledge) had on you would you say? The key themes from the open text responses have been chosen for the graph below. A sample of the open text comments are also included for illustration. Work hard, play hard, have fun, meet people

36%

You made the time; learned good work skills

28% 16%

No effect So much to do, always working, hard to relax

11%

Teaching style was fun Too many subjects

8% 2% 0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

40

In particular, I thought the CAS hours really helped me. To complete my CAS hours requirements, I had to take part in activities that I would not have considered joining before. I found out I loved these activities and the people doing them. If I wasn't in the IB program, I don't think I would have had so much fun with my extracurricular activities.

The extended essay set me up perfectly for university style essay writing. CAS was great because it enabled me to put some things on my CV and TOK was a great way to work on my critical thinking skills.

CAS gave me a good insight on being a valuable citizen, the Extended Essay taught me to manage the type of essays required at college level, and TOK made me a more critical thinker. These are all qualities I obtained week-in week-out that A-level students would maybe only learn once, if ever.

In all fairness, those three things are something that allow me to boast more about how difficult the IB was to non-IB students. I absolutely loved researching for my Extended Essay, as I chose a topic that I found interesting from the onset. Having worked towards every deadline I in no way felt completely stressed out whilst writing my essay. CAS made me more aware of what I was doing for the community. It's cheesy but it's true. TOK was interesting at times, but most of the time I felt like it was a bit of a waste of time to be honest. I did not really feel it sufficiently broadened my understanding. Perhaps this is because I can't really see the results of it like I can see the results of having studied history or economics.

I cannot say CAS has had much effect on me. TOK has broadened my mind and it was the best class I could have taken at the time. My experience writing the Extended Essay proved useful to me during my Dissertation.

Very few A-level students wrote a single essay as long as 4,000 words and the Extended Essay helped me feel confident about writing a Dissertation at University. TOK helped me challenge almost everything! I don't just take what lecturers (or day-to-day news) say at face-value and it makes you a stronger, more critical thinker. CAS was a good release from the IB and it does make you a well-rounded individual.

9


12. Did the IB Diploma help or hinder you to make your next step? % Helped

94

Hindered

0

Don’t know

6

13. If you had your time again would you choose to study the IB Diploma? 68%

Yes, definitely 18%

Yes, probably Not sure either way

6%

Probably not

6%

Certainly Not

3% 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

10


22159 IB Alumni Survey 2012:Layout 1

4/12/12

11:37 AM

For further information Marketing Department, ACS International Schools Heywood, Portsmouth Road, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1BL, England Tel: +44 (0)1932 588334 Fax: +44 (0)1932 869798 Email: marketing@acs-schools.com www.acs-schools.com Š 2012 ACS International Schools

Page 1


Reflections on the IB Diploma