Assessing IB Biology Practical Investigations
In the form 4/PSOW, we need to submit students' write-ups for the top two scores achieved in each of Design, Data Collection and Processing and Conclusion and Evaluation. It has been said that examiners prefer when these criteria are all assessed together in one investigation, with the student designing, implementing and writing-up their own piece of work. Of course, it is possible to submit a separate piece of work for each criterion (a maximum of 6 pieces per student!), but does this really address the nature of Biology?

The purpose of this page is to share some models that could be used for larger, more student-led investigations.

Model 1: Staggered

Easy to manage with smaller classes.
Week
Number of periods
Tasks & Descriptions
1
1 x 90mins
Set students overall task.
Students research using texts and websites.
Materials provided for students to fiddle with specimens and measuring tools, as they refine their design.
2
2 x 90 mins
Action phase - students collect data under supervision.
3.
1 x 45 mins
Computer lab - refining DCP
4.
0
Submission of complete write-up.
Comments:


Model 2: Action Week

Like a smaller-scale G4 project - without the 'group'!
Week
Number of periods
Tasks & Descriptions
1
1 x 45mins
Set students overall task & give opportunities for research.
2
2 x 90 mins
Action phase week - students devote all class time to data collection and
write-ups.
3.
0
Submission of complete write-up.
Comments:


Model 3: Advanced Warning

Based on David Mindorff's idea in the OCC.
In this model, students are given a longer period of notice that an assessment is coming up, and should be planning at home.
Week
Number of periods
Tasks & Descriptions
1
1/2 x 45mins
Students write design and materials requisition.
2
2 x 90 mins
Action phase - students devote all class time to data collection and
write-ups.
3.
0
Submission of complete write-up.
Comments:


Model 4: School's Out

Student-designed investigations on a collapsed timetable or field-trip.
Students should be forewarned that they will be given one day to complete a full investigation and should be looking for ideas as they work through the field-trip activities.

Week
Number of periods
Tasks & Descriptions
1
Learning days
Students learn how to use various techniques and tools, and get ideas for their own investigations.

1 x 60mins
Design time - students write their own Design, including requisition forms.
Students may be paired depending on demand for equipment. Although they are helping with each other's data
collection, they are still working on their own RQ.

Full day
Data collection and processing in the field. Supervised, but not helped.
2.
0
Submission of drafts/ final write-ups.
Comments:



Assessment Rubrics and Checklists


If you have any rubrics or checklists to help students with IA write-ups, please share them here:

Rubric/ checklist poster from Stephen Taylor