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How to prosper with MYP personal projects: common assessment queries

By Gill Chudley

Standardization and assessment

In the fourth post in this series How to prosper with MYP personal projects, we’ve pulled together the most common questions from the Middle Years Programme (MYP) community about the assessment of MYP personal projects. Let’s dive straight in.

Where can you find the task-specific clarification, as it is not included the subject guide, or in MYP: From principles into practice (2014)?

The task-specific clarification is contained within the Further Guidance document that can be downloaded from the programme resource centre—the latest version (at the time of writing) was updated in December 2017 and is published on the projects page. The document includes the IB’s published definitions of command terms for additional clarity.

When the IB says that schools should standardize before deciding on achievement levels, do they mean for every assessment? Or only for summative assessments? Or something in between?

Standardization throughout the school year promotes consistency and builds common understandings; standard and practice: C4.1b relates to this process in schools.  It is best practice for all markers to apply a common interpretation of assessment criterion strands. Between subjects, it is important that students are aware a command term has a common meaning to understand how their work is assessed, and within subjects that they understand what is required for their work to match achievement levels in order to be aware of their learning gain and prepare for future progress in learning.

Is there a standard checklist from the IB for marking?

The further guidance document includes a student-friendly checklist for writing the personal project report. The task-specific clarification, contained within the same document, explains the evidence required to award each level for each strand. Between them, they form a comprehensive checklist. MYP schools may wish to also create a materials/evidence required checklist for use by their students and/or supervisors.

How can work be standardized if the student is doing their report in an oral format?

If a student has completed an oral report, the content must be approached and rewarded in the same way as a written report.  The criteria do not change, nor the differentiating terms. If, for example, the student has described (given a detailed account of a situation, event, pattern of process) and not explained (given a detailed account including reasons or causes) that evidence will be found in the recording of the oral report and must be recognized appropriately.

When educators are assessing the reports, do you take into consideration that some students are completing the project in a language that is not their strongest and how that might affect their report coherence?

The criterion strand statements must be applied objectively both in schools and by examiners. MYP examiners are instructed to remember that candidates may not be writing in their first language and that apart from in language acquisition, marking should not be focused on grammatical accuracy; it is the content of a candidate’s response that is important.

What is the maximum number of appendices allowed? Is there a stipulation on the length of each appendix?

The projects guide indicates that the appendix to the report will consist of a maximum of 10 pages/screenshots containing carefully selected process journal extracts that exemplify the knowledge, process and skills developed through the report (and that in the case of oral reports only, visual aids used when delivering the report).  The further guidance for projects document provides advice how students might choose to use the allocation of 10 pages/screenshots.

Is there any specific font size and font type for the personal project? What about double spacing and cover pages?

Neither the current projects guide nor further guidance document contain instructions for font size or type, or for line spacing. Students should remember that material must be readable on a screen, without the need to zoom. If the font is too small this may not be possible. Cover pages are not required; should they be used they must not include any identifying information to the student, including name, candidate number or school details.

What about the connections with global context? What about the area of exploration in the global context? Must students comment on global context in both criterion C and criterion D?

There is no criterion strand that references a specific exploration of the global context, although some students may choose to focus their thinking by selecting an appropriate exploration. In criterion C strand i the student comments on how the project’s goal was connected with the global context, whereas in criterion D strand ii the student reflects on how completing the project has extended their knowledge and understanding of the global context. They do comment in both, but in different ways. The task-specific clarification descriptors provide insight for both strands.

Just a quick question relating to the word count of the report. How do examiners determine where the 3,500 words end?

MYP schools are responsible for ensuring their candidates indicate an accurate word count. There can be some latitude for different word counting systems in different word processing packages. Where examiners indicate that the word count declared by the student was less than that submitted, schools will be requested to remark the work to the permitted maximum. This would usually result in strand(s) being discounted from the final assessment as the evidence for the strand(s) would have been beyond the 3,500-word limit. Exceeding the maximums is therefore not recommended; it is in the student’s best interest to keep within the permitted requirements for each element of their work.

Should the contents of the bibliography be only the sources which have been used in the report and product, or should they include all sources that have been read and evaluated, even if they were not used in the end?

The task-specific clarification within Further guidance for projects includes in the information above Criterion A strand iii, that the bibliography is an alphabetical list of all sources used to complete the project; resources should be explicit, appropriate and noted in the project report.

My school organizes a projects exhibition, can this be part of the assessment?

Only the materials that are required for moderation (the report, bibliography, appendices, and product evidence) can be assessed by the school.

Where schools organize an exhibition, this could be considered a celebration of the culmination of students’ projects, but it is not assessed within a strand of any criterion and evidence should not be submitted.

I hope these have helped you?

These are the most common queries I hear so I hope they are useful. If you want an expanded list of Q&As, plus materials and to listen to a 2017 webinar recording on the topic, login to My IB and go to programme communities > Middle Years Programme > MYP core elements > MYP projects > Did you miss the Personal Project Standardization Exercise Webinars? discussion thread. More than 200 MYP coordinators and personal project supervisors joined the webinar and their questions and answers were incorporated in the Q&A above and in the more detailed document in the programme resource centre.

Has your school been active in using the webinars and its companion materials published on the programme resource centre?  We’d like for schools to share their thoughts and experiences of how you used the resource in school.

Gill Chudley is Subject Manager MYP, eAssessment at the IB Global Centre in the UK.