The exploration is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB using assessment criteria that relate to the objectives for mathematics. Each exploration is assessed against the following five criteria. The final mark for each exploration is the sum of the scores for each criterion. The maximum possible final mark is 20. Students will not receive a grade for their mathematics course if they have not submitted an exploration.
Click the document below for a full list of example IA's provided by IB.
The “presentation” criterion assesses the organization and coherence of the exploration. A coherent exploration is logically developed, easy to follow and meets its aim. This refers to the overall structure or framework, including introduction, body, conclusion and how well the different parts link to each other. A well-organized exploration includes an introduction, describes the aim of the exploration and has a conclusion. Relevant graphs, tables and diagrams should accompany the work in the appropriate place and not be attached as appendices to the document. Appendices should be used to include information on large data sets, additional graphs, diagrams and tables. Internal assessment Mathematics: applications and interpretation guide 85 A concise exploration does not show irrelevant or unnecessary repetitive calculations, graphs or descriptions. The use of technology is not required but encouraged where appropriate. However, the use of analytic approaches rather than technological ones does not necessarily mean lack of conciseness, and should not be penalized. This does not mean that repetitive calculations are condoned.
The “mathematical communication” criterion assesses to what extent the student has: • used appropriate mathematical language (notation, symbols, terminology). Calculator and computer notation is acceptable only if it is software generated. Otherwise it is expected that students use appropriate mathematical notation in their work • defined key terms and variables, where required • used multiple forms of mathematical representation, such as formulae, diagrams, tables, charts, graphs and models, where appropriate • used a deductive method and set out proofs logically where appropriate Examples of level 1 can include graphs not being labelled, consistent use of computer notation with no other forms of correct mathematical communication. Level 4 can be achieved by using only one form of mathematical representation as long as this is appropriate to the topic being explored. For level 4, any minor errors that do not impair clear communication should not be penalized.
The “personal engagement” criterion assesses the extent to which the student engages with the topic by exploring the mathematics and making it their own. It is not a measure of effort. Personal engagement may be recognized in different ways. These include thinking independently or creatively, presenting mathematical ideas in their own way, exploring the topic from different perspectives, making and testing predictions. Further (but not exhaustive) examples of personal engagement at different levels are given in the teacher support material (TSM). Internal assessment 86 Mathematics: applications and interpretation guide There must be evidence of personal engagement demonstrated in the student’s work. It is not sufficient that a teacher comments that a student was highly engaged. Textbook style explorations or reproduction of readily available mathematics without the candidate’s own perspective are unlikely to achieve the higher levels. Significant: The student demonstrates authentic personal engagement in the exploration on a few occasions and it is evident that these drive the exploration forward and help the reader to better understand the writer’s intentions. Outstanding: The student demonstrates authentic personal engagement in the exploration in numerous instances and they are of a high quality. It is evident that these drive the exploration forward in a creative way. It leaves the impression that the student has developed, through their approach, a complete understanding of the context of the exploration topic and the reader better understands the writer’s intentions.
The “reflection” criterion assesses how the student reviews, analyses and evaluates the exploration. Although reflection may be seen in the conclusion to the exploration, it may also be found throughout the exploration. Simply describing results represents limited reflection. Further consideration is required to achieve the higher levels. Some ways of showing meaningful reflection are: linking to the aims of the exploration, commenting on what they have learned, considering some limitation or comparing different mathematical approaches. Critical reflection is reflection that is crucial, deciding or deeply insightful. It will often develop the exploration by addressing the mathematical results and their impact on the student’s understanding of the topic. Some ways of showing critical reflection are: considering what next, discussing implications of results, discussing strengths and weaknesses of approaches, and considering different perspectives. Substantial evidence means that the critical reflection is present throughout the exploration. If it appears at the end of the exploration it must be of high quality and demonstrate how it developed the exploration in order to achieve a level 3. Further (but not exhaustive) examples of reflection at different levels are given in the teacher support material (TSM).
The “Use of mathematics” SL criterion assesses to what extent students use mathematics that is relevant to the exploration. Relevant refers to mathematics that supports the development of the exploration towards the completion of its aim. Overly complicated mathematics where simple mathematics would suffice is not relevant. Students are expected to produce work that is commensurate with the level of the course, which means it should not be completely based on mathematics listed in the prior learning. The mathematics explored should either be part of the syllabus, or at a similar level. A key word in the descriptor is demonstrated. The command term demonstrate means “to make clear by reasoning or evidence, illustrating with examples or practical application”. Obtaining the correct answer is not sufficient to demonstrate understanding (even some understanding) in order to achieve level 2 or higher. For knowledge and understanding to be thorough it must be demonstrated throughout. The mathematics can be regarded as correct even if there are occasional minor errors as long as they do not detract from the flow of the mathematics or lead to an unreasonable outcome. Students are encouraged to use technology to obtain results where appropriate, but understanding must be demonstrated in order for the student to achieve higher than level 1, for example merely substituting values into a formula does not necessarily demonstrate understanding of the results. The mathematics only needs to be what is required to support the development of the exploration. This could be a few small elements of mathematics or even a single topic (or sub-topic) from the syllabus. It is better to do a few things well than a lot of things not so well. If the mathematics used is relevant to the topic being explored, commensurate with the level of the course and understood by the student, then it can achieve a high level in this criterion.
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