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Undergrads inform university researchers on how the IB Extended Essay supports their U Va. academic performance

30 Jan 2013

Bethesda, MD— As part of a study conducted by University of Virginia (U Va.) researchers, a group of 1,045 International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme alumni—all U Va. undergraduates—participated in a research project that sought to gain understanding about how students’ research activity in the IB Diploma Programme contributed to their U Va. research experiences and outcomes. In particular, the research study focused on how the Diploma Programme’s extended essay requirement may have contributed to the students’ research success as U Va. students, and how their extended essay scores and university GPAs may correlate.

The study, “Exploring the Benefits of the International Baccalaureate Extended Essay for University Study at the University of Virginia,” was conducted by Karen K. Inkelas, Amy Swan, Joshua Pretlow and Jill Jones, all of U Va.’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Included in the study was a survey conducted with former IB students and a comparison group of former AP students studying at U Va. The survey sample (n=953) was 66% female, ethnically diverse, with strong prior academic achievement, and very high-degree aspirations. Seventy-eight percent of the sample indicated that they intended to pursue and complete a graduate, doctoral or other professional degree. Twenty-one former IB students who participated in the survey also participated in focus groups and individual interview.

Key findings:

  • The IB’s extended essay does have an effect on student’s research confidence and willingness to engage in future research.
  • Former IB students felt strongly that the IB extended essay prepared them to conduct various facets of the research process.
  • When compared with former AP students, IB students were significantly more likely to indicate they:
    • felt prepared for college-level coursework involving research.
    • had executed a research project at U Va.
    • took pride in their research.
    • intended to conduct future research.
    • found their research skills to be important to future success.
  • Interviewees indicated the their experience with completion of the IB extended essay supported skills such as gathering and evaluating evidence, writing, and time management, and reduced anxiety around writing.
  • A statistically significant relationship existed between extended essay scores and first-semester and final-semester college GPAs, after controlling for background characteristics.

This study joins a growing body of research pointing to the positive impact the IB Diploma Programme has on students preparing for a successful university career. See the study in its entirety here.

About the IB

Founded in 1968, the International Baccalaureate (IB) is a not-for profit foundation, which offers four high quality and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. For 45 years, IB programmes have gained a reputation for their rigour and high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently there are more than 1 million IB students who attend nearly 3,500 schools in 144 countries.

About U Va.

U Va., founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, is ranked the second best public (25th overall) university in the US, according to US News and World Report. Undergraduate admissions are highly competitive, with 94% of first-year students ranked in the top 10% of their high school class.

For more information, contact:
research@ibo.org