Therese N Hopfenbeck, Kit S Double, Yasmine Hachem El Masri and Joshua A McGrane—Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment, University of Oxford
This study examined the effects of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) on the critical thinking skills of students in Australia, England and Norway. Specifically, it investigated whether student participation in the DP contributed to higher levels of critical thinking, as measured by an established critical thinking assessment instrument. Researchers also examined DP curricular elements that may support critical thinking, and explored the perspectives of DP students and teachers. The results suggest that the IB embraces a mixed approach to critical thinking development, which is largely in line with best practice research. Quantitative findings indicated that IB students had significantly higher levels of critical thinking than their non-IB peers—an advantage that held even after matched samples of IB and non-IB students were used for comparison. The critical thinking advantage of IB students also increased over the course of the DP. In interviews, students and teachers shared a belief that the theory of knowledge course, the extended essay and DP subjects foster critical thinking development. Teachers and students also generally believed that the DP better prepares students for university compared to national or state programmes.