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IB Extended Essay: Reflections

Three Reflections: Prompts & Examples

Write the first reflection after one of the early sessions with your supervisor. Focus on...

  • Your ideas regarding the topic in general
  • The research question you have in mind
  • Initial background reading or research you may have conducted
  • Possible approaches
  • Initial thoughts about the answer to your research question
  • Roughly 100 words in length

Guiding Questions:

  • What exactly do you want to find out?
  • What resources do you plan to use?
  • What problems do you anticipate?
  • To what extent does your topic fit within the subject EE criteria?
  • What sources have you found and what do you still need to find?
  • Have you collected sufficient data? (if applicable)
  • Why are you interested in research this?
  • Do you have sufficient knowledge in the subject area to fulfill the EE requirements?
  • Are there any ethical issues to consider before beginning this research?

Sample 1st Reflection: History

I was attracted to Anna Comnena's The Alexiad as a result of some extra readings which formed part of my IB History course (Crusades). As the first female historian, she stands in a unique place in terms of historiography, something which appealed to me as both a woman and budding historian. I was initially considering writing about her accounts of the First Crusade but quickly found the topic to be far too wide in scope. A reading of Paul Magdalino's article "The Pen of the Aunt" helped refocus me on the issue of historical purpose, i.e., why she wrote the history she did. I have now allocated time to reading historical accounts of Manuel I's reign to decide how closely the events Anna mentions in her history of her father's reign (Alexius) so as to validate my current hypothesis-  that Anna intended the work as a celebratory account of her father so as to cast a negative light on the rule of her nephew Manuel I. My current list includes Runciman, France, Macrides, Christomides, and Hill.

The Second Reflection session usually falls somewhere in the middle to latter half of your EE process

  • Discuss how the research question has become more refined
  • Comment on any challenges you have encountered & what solutions you have attempted
  • Discuss how your thinking on your topic has evolved
  • Roughly 200 words in length

Guiding Questions:

  • Where was I? Where I am now? Where am I going?

  • What sources do you find helpful?

  • How have you evaluated your sources?

  • Have you adopted a structure for writing based on what the IB requires?

  • What do you need to do next?

Sample of 2nd Reflection: History

I was finding it hard to come up with a satisfactory counter to the question of accuracy and authenticity which feature prominently in modern readings of her work. Historians ranging from Edward Gibbon and John France to the more direct Howard-Johnson paper which completely challenges her authorship effectively negated my hypothesis entirely. Using Magdalino and Hill as a focus point, I re-read key sections of The Alexiad and mapped out her account against the policital events of Manuel I's reign and quickly discovered some interesting overlaps (building works, military campaigns, relations with the West, etc.). Though occasionally obscure and subtle, the criticisms emerge by means of an unspoken comparison which Byzantine readers of her account would have well understood. This approach is providing me with a suitable counter to the aforementioned criticisms. I have also begun structuring my work accordingly with sections devoted to historical context followed by a section on The Alexiad which compares and contrasts events from Alexius' time with those of Manuel's. I am considering a chapter on the historiographical tradition of Byzantium but may integrate it into the main body in the end.

The Third Reflection can be written before the Viva Voce meeting to help you prepare for the conversation.

  • Offer your final reflections on the process
  • Discuss any achievements realized or challenges overcome
  • Discuss elements that allowed you to complete the task that may not be readily apparent in the essay itself.
  • Discuss any relevant ATL's (Approaches to Learning) that you have developed through the process & be ready to provide good examples.
  • Roughly 200 words in length

Guiding Questions

  • What did you discover that surprised you?

  • Is writing the EE mainly about process or product AND why?

  • What would you have done differently and why?

  • What advice would you give to a student just beginning this process?

  • What have been the high and low points of the research and writing processes?

  • What would you have done differently?

  • What is the most important thing that you learned?

  • What was your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?

  • What would you change if you did another EE?

  • What was the most valuable experience that you took away from the process?

  • What was your greatest challenge and what did you do to overcome it?

  • What IB learner profile attribute would you say helped you through the process (communicator, risk-taker, etc.)?

  • Would you like to continue reading on this topic?

  • What questions did this process raise?

  • What conclusions have you drawn about the topic?

Sample 3rd Reflection: History

I am very pleased with how the essay has turned out. Skills wise, I had no problems with referencing which I picked up quickly though integrating source analysis did prove a challenge at times due to my narrative tendencies. I believe I've been able to challenge the orthodox interpretations of Anna's work as a piece of fantasy fiction at the hands of a disgruntled woman by showing that Anna was effectively using one of the few weapons still permitted her in her diminished political state- the power of words- to criticize the existing leadership. Hill's works proved of particular use to me as they examined female power in a broader context and thus gave me a framework for interpreting what Anna was able to do within the context of her time.

Also see these examples with examiner comments

Questions to Ask Yourself

Avoid using only description and keep descriptions brief. Use the prompts to spark your thinking.

See reflections with Examiner comments to get an idea of the level of thinking you want to attain.

Descriptive Ideas (limited reflection)

  • What did I do?
  • How did I undertake my research?
  • What were the problems I faced?
  • Did my approach or strategies change throughout the process?
  • What have been the high and the low points of the research and writing process?

Analytical Ideas (good reflection)

  • To what extent was my research successful?
  • If I changed approach or strategies during the process, why did I do this?
  • What did I learn from the experience in terms of my understanding of the subject area and/or skills needed?
  • How has my understanding of the topic and process developed?

Evaluative Ideas (excellent reflection)

  • If I did this again, what would I do differently?
  • If I did this again, would I change the theories applied, or my methodology?
  • Would there be a different outcome?
  • What can I conclude?
  • Were the strategies I used most appropriate for achieving my outcomes?
  • What questions emerged as a result of my research? Would these questions influence my approach if I did this all over again?

Reflection Tips

IB Mastery (article + video)

Writing Tips:

  • Use strong active verbs (eliminate "to be", is, was)
  • Personal interest
  • Research Planning
  • Concrete details/examples (brief)
  • Use words such as: choice, decision, progress, engaged 

Sentence starters:

  • "I decided to...."
  • "I gained insight when...because of...regarding...."
  • "I adjusted my approach when/because/due to/ order to..."
  • "Based on ---, I decided to ---"
  • "I made progress when...."


Criterion E: Engagement

EE Marks Breakdown:

A: Focus and method (6 marks)
B: Knowledge and understanding (6 marks)
C: Critical thinking (12 marks)
D: Presentation (4 marks)
E: Engagement (6 marks) = Your REFLECTIONS!

Total marks awarded: 34 

Due Dates (Class of 2022)

Submit to MB in the "Progress and Planning" tab

First Reflection (100 words)

  • Week of May 10-14

Interim Reflection (150 words)

  • Week of Sept 6-10

Viva Voce and Final Reflection (250 words)

  • Between Oct 20 - Nov 6