Secondly, how to more effectively support the EE process out of a deeper understanding of the inquiry process. This was driven by a sense that our EE timetable, which in many respects was exemplary, worked against the inquiry process at certain key points, for example, the requirement to identify a research question at the start of the process rather than allowing the research question to emerge from the process. This led me to Carol Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process, which not only added an affective, cognitive and physical dimension to our understanding of the inquiry process, which allowed us to realign out EE timetable to work with the inquiry process, but also identified points of optimal intervention in support of the EE process (please see E&L Memo 0 | Developing inquiring minds: a journey from information through knowledge to understanding for more detail).
I would like to ask a question about what you have said relating to the inquiry process and the Extended Essay research question. I wondered whether you were suggesting that it is a requirement of the IBO that the student start the process of the EE with a research question or whether that was something that your school had required. I assume that it is the latter. For me as a supervisor, it has always been so exciting to see my students start with an idea and slowly develop their question through trial, error and inspiration.
Hello, Susan, and welcome. The requirement to start with the research question was internal, but I seem to recall that the previous EE specification contributed to this expectation, if it didn’t actually create it. Even though we have realigned our EE timetable to more accurately reflect our growing understanding of the inquiry process (see E&L Memo 0 | Developing inquiring minds: a journey from information through knowledge to understanding), we still have some way to go in helping all supervisors to fully understand and effectively support this process, which is, as you suggest, the difference between finding information to answer a question (that may not even be your own) to discovering for yourself a question is that worth the effort of answering. I’d certainly be curious to hear more about your supervisor training and/or support.
I’ve never been given training as a supervisor. Instead I came to the role of a supervisor in a round about way. I am the teacher-librarian for the secondary library at my school. When I started in the role 10 years ago, I developed a relationship with the head of I & S, Keely Rogers, and began working with her diploma students on research skills. Soon, I was asked by Ms. Rogers, as EE co-ordinator to assist her with the Extended Essay, which led me to taking over as the co-ordinator two years later. Three years ago we had an excess of students who wished to do a history EE and I was asked to supervise one student. I have to say that my academic background is in modern languages in which I received an MA in French. Thus, not only had I never supervised before but it was also not my subject area. I received a lot of support from Ms. Rogers relating to the writing of a history EE but as far as being a supervisor, I had to call on my library training and my understanding of the importance of the inquiry process along with what I read in IB documents and other literature. In 2015, I stumbled across Carol Kuhlthau and guided inquiry at the American Association of School Librarians conference in Columbus, Ohio, while taking a workshop on guided inquiry and the humanities. Though my school has been an IB World school for over 15 years, only the PYP program is truly inquiry based and though guided inquiry was somewhat of a revelation, it was more a eureka moment when I realised that this was what I had been trying to do all along.
As the EE co-ordinator till two years ago, I developed a handbook for supervisors and had several sessions with the newcomers but unfortunately we seem to have little time in our schedule for training. I did show supervisors the videos on supervisor-student meetings when the new guide came into effect but little more has taken place. This is a regret.