TOK Assessment Help

The formal assessment in TOK is limited to the Presentation and the TOK Essay – While both are assessed by your teacher the Essay is also assessed externally by TOK Markers around the world.

The TOK Essay:

As a TOK student stop to think – What is meant by the “an essay”?  How would you define it, what is it’s purpose, what are the features of an essay (not just structure).  Go ahead and take a peek at Wikipedia’s entry on “essay”. (At this point you’ve written many – any surprises?)

Mr Hoye’s Essay Page – what’s required, hints and tips, past questions, and example A essays.  No use re-inventing the wheel this is a very good place to spend some time looking at the links and tips provided.

From Theory of Knowledge by Sue Bastian we read:

Aldous Huxley  described the essay as a work balanced between three aspects or poles:

1)The abstract, universal: general perhaps derived from the factual

2)The factual, concrete: specific and verifiable

3)The personal, autobiographical: the writer giving something of him/herself

An emphasis on all three poles was not necessary in an essay, a balance between them was the goal. Huxley wrote, “The most richly satisfying essays are those which make the best not of one, not of two, but of all the three worlds in which it is possible for the essay to exist”  From Collected Essays by Aldous Huxley.

Choosing your Prescribed Title – take a look at the titles over the past years – get a feel for the scope and range – when your titles list is released don’t jump on the first one, what is the best fit for you?

 Questions to ponder.

What are the ways of knowing implied and/or directly connected to the question?

What are the areas of knowing implied and/or directly connected to the question?

Are these ways and areas in my personal areas of strength and understanding?

What isn’t being asked that I need to be sure I understand and cover?

Is this question asking me to consider developments in the area over time? Do I know the history? Do I want to do the research?

How can I take what appears to be pretty general and make it very specific while tying it to core TOK concepts? How do I keep this about TOK? (key not to run away after the subject)

What are the terms in the question?

Narrow it down to three and then doodle, web, sketch out, some quick ideas of directions you might take with each of those topics. What knowledge issues (eg. is reason or sense perception more reliable for constructing knowledge) come to mind? What personal experiences?

Coming back to Huxley’s example of the three poles or points of the essay:

1)The general – knowledge issues

2)The specific – arguments and examples

3)You – your perspective, experiences, ownership of the response

The Mark is based upon four areas:  Hoye’s site provides the full matrix pdf here. Review the matrix!

a)Understanding the knowledge issues: What ways of knowing and areas of knowing are related to the question – how and why – valid examples and connections.

b)Knower’s Perspective – The IB Mission Statement seeks to encourage “students across the world to…understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right” This section of the assessment explores whether you are able to see your position but also honestly examine other perspectives and possibly provide examples that are contrary to your own. (This is key in the presentation as well 😉 )

c)Quality of analysis of knowledge issues – (the devil is in the details and specificity) details, justification, coherence and ‘fairness’ of the presentation of the counter-claims.

d)Organization and Ideas – the order in which you present your ideas, the flow of your paper, clarity, factual, supported and properly documented (ensure you give credit where credit is due).  AND DON’T GO OVER  or Under THE WORD LIMIT.  1200-1600 words in the body and quotations of the essay.  Good luck

The  TOK Presentation: A shared conversation/discussion with your classmates on a knowledge issue raised in a real-life situation. In the presentation the goal is to enlighten your classmates about a real-life situation and it’s connection with a knowledge issue.  The metaphor used frequently in the guides and texts is that of a building a bridge from real-life on one shore, knowledge issue on the other and the journey across reveals the theory of knowledge in the situation.

Once again I recommend Mr Hoye’s site presentation section – check out the rules, guidelines they are the same for all IB classes. As we talked about it last June you can work in groups but you are marked individually and each additional student requires 10 more minutes to the presentation.

Key points to the Presentation:

1) State your knowledge issue clearly

2) Show how it arises from your selected real-life situation

3) Develop it

4) Demonstrate how it could be applied back to your real-life situation and others.

How the presentation is being assessed.

A)Identification of Knowledge Issues (extraction)- You must state the knowledge issue in your presentation – tell us what your going to tell us, lay out the presentation and return to the knowledge issue as part of the conclusion.  Show the connection (remember the bridge) between the knowledge issue  and the real-life situation. Don’t go chasing distractors – get things focused to a single knowledge issue.

B)Treatment of knowledge issues (understanding and development)  – Demonstrate that you understand the stated knowledge issue and the related issues as well.  Your discussion should provide clear evidence of this understanding that flows smoothly in and from your presentation.

C)Knower’s Perspective –  (what does mean to you, are you engaged in this topic) This needs to be connected to you, a topic that you are comfortable explaining and it is clear that you own the arguments you are presenting. This should demonstrate the significance of the issue to you  and your point of view.

D)Connections – This is where you need to explore other ways to look at the issue, the perspectives different from your own.

Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told them”.

Presenting Skills

Rhetoric – the art of persuasion and exploration. Don’t come out and hit the audience on the head with a frying pan but you are trying to make a point, a reasoned point with a foundation in truth (which should reduce the emotion of the negative connotation of rhetoric).  Seek to have a balance of credibility, passion, and logic.

Know your audience – what do your classmates know, don’t waste time but be careful to check for (plan for this) understanding. Remember your audience didn’t do the same research you did and if they didn’t learn anything from your presentation why’d you do it?

Voice – Practice makes perfect and at this stage in your life you haven’t necessarily had a lot of opportunities to engage in public performance…others have.

a) Speed – usually the worry is around going to fast, slow down and breathe

b) Clarity – too fast and the words run together

c) Volume – It’s your room own it.  Remember that if you are doing a video you need to ensure the volume is good for those speaking. (Hint – your Iphone/Itouch can help with this is your plan is to make a video see Mr. Gilson for help with this

d)Modulation – this is about tone – ever hear someone speak on a flat tone line for even 5 minutes – the famous Ferris Bueller monotone teacher, what not to do.

Non-Verbal – What are you doing as you speak? Are you actively involved, eye-contact established, and avoiding reading – particularly fatal is the powerpoint presentation simply read back to the class.

There are some sample presentations – and some fake sample presentations on-line.  Take a look but buyer beware.


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