Student perceptions of the value of the International Baccalaureate extended essay in preparing them for university studies (2013)

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David Wray—University of Warwick, UK

The overall aim of this project was to explore the learning benefits and outcomes attributable to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme’s (DP) extended essay (EE) in terms of knowledge, skills, abilities, engagement, and other aspects that might prepare students for university studies. This qualitative study from the University of Warwick (UK) analyzes data from semi-structured interviews with 43 students (24 former DP and 19 former A-levels) and 14 tutors at two UK universities. Themes of analysis centred around overall reactions, learning experiences, criticisms, and impact of the students’ EE and A-levels experiences. The findings of this project suggest that most of the aims of the EE had been met, that former DP students had enjoyed and valued their EE experience, and that it had taught them a lot, especially in terms of being critical and independent. They were also more positive about their pre-university education than the former A-level students. However, the majority of the former IB students in this study indicated there were few opportunities at their universities to use the skills they had developed through doing their EE.

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