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There was almost no physics used in the entirely of the 59 reports I marked – which is very disappointing.
Also, by definition, some topics are not suitable for an extended essay in physics, which is an experimental science with a specific approach and techniques.
As such, it should be stated that in the majority of cases, students that produce such EEs are ill-advised and if there were more guidance and a stronger hand in saying ‘no – that will not work and therefore, will no score well’, they might be better.
The EE guide for Physics clearly states the following: Students should choose a well-focused, well-defined and realistic topic that allows for an in-depth treatment.
Broad or complex survey topics, for example, investigations into black holes, gravity, time machines, the Higgs particle or the fate of the universe, will not permit the student to discuss conflicting ideas and theories, nor to produce an in-depth personal analysis within the word limit.
The work is often inappropriate and although there are some signs that the student did actually put some effort into this, the marks are significantly compromised because of this.
It should be remembered that the IB Physics course has a lot of focus on the experimental (or empirical) aspects of the subject and very little which actually supports the role of theoretical investigation.Beyond the above, a couple of my main gripes are below.When we get to the part of the year where EEs are being considered, I will add a lot more to hopefully help students get better marks – that would be a good thing.The analysis of the results, the interpretation of the data in light of experimental problems that may arise, etc, cannot be discussed easily with the Supervisor and as such, the necessary guidance cannot be provided.The report is often written with no guidance at all, or with the guidance of a university academic – in both cases, it usually produces a poor report.Graphs with dot-to-dot or curvy dot-to-dot links between the points should be avoided.There was also a lack of the input-output graphs, with students simply going for the graph to show the variation they expected!Having just completed the marking of 59 Physics extended essays for the IB, I am compelled to write this post about the appalling quality of them.Of the 59, only a handful scored over 20/36 – which is pretty poor.Supervisor guidance is once again crucial – the supervisor should be aware of what is a viable Research Question in the sense of what the IB require for an EE.There is a small but growing number of EEs that are done by the student either at home (often supervised by the father) or at a local institute (e.g., a university).