Economics ee report

Economics ee report - EXTENDED ESSAY REPORTS – MAY 2003...

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Unformatted text preview: EXTENDED ESSAY REPORTS – MAY 2003 Economics The range and suitability of the work submitted As usual, a huge range of topics was chosen. In most cases, the focus of the essay was on an economics concept – though there were frequent problems in terms of veering into business/marketing and economic history. Making this grave mistake makes it very difficult for the candidate to achieve successful scores on the subject specific criteria. An area which seemed to interest many candidates this session was the ‘9/11’ terrorist attacks; a large number of essays focused on the economic effects of this attack. Generally, these were too descriptive, unsubstantiated and contained far too much information which was not relevant. There were a disappointingly large number of candidates who chose topics that are best described as economic history and then simply wrote descriptive summaries of secondary sources. Moreover, this led to the problem of not being able to establish a clear research question. Examples of this are as follows: “ This essay is an investigation into The Great Depression.” or “This essay is about Roosevelt’s Effect on the U.S. economy after the Great Depression.” or “ The effect of the formation of the European Union on the economies of its member states from its creation up to the present.”. The best essays had quite simple titles and straightforward research questions which allowed the candidate to develop a logical argument backed by clear evidence. These are often in the area of micro-economics based on a local example. Nevertheless, it is not necessary that they be so and teachers do not need to counsel candidates to avoid topics in macroeconomics, international economics or economic development. There is a vast amount of material on the Internet in the form of databanks of primary data, which is suitable. The danger is only when too many secondary sources are used, or when the research question does not lend itself to the use of the economic theory addressed in the IB syllabus. Candidate performance against each criterion General assessment criteria Criterion A Research question Many candidates did not focus their question sharply enough for an investigative report of this nature. While it is pleasing to see candidates focus on an area which interests them, it is rather sad that so often the said topic does not lend itself to a systematic investigation involving economic analysis. This tends to be the case when candidates choose a family run business to research. Criterion B Approach to the research question Weaker candidates tended to write a narrative, descriptive essay, which ends up scoring poorly on many of the criteria. A better approach involves the collection and use of relevant economic theory. In some cases, reasonable economic data were collected, but the relevant economic theory was presented as a separate section of the essay, rather than integrated with the data. Sadly, many candidates failed to gather relevant data but simply provided a synopsis of secondary material on a general topic. Criterion C Analysis/interpretation This tends to be a problem area, with many candidates substituting description or narration for analysis. It was often the case that the candidate gathered useful information/data, but then lumped it together in one section followed by a largely descriptive section. EXTENDED ESSAY REPORTS – MAY 2003 Criterion D Argument/evaluation The link between analysing one’s own data or information and then evaluating it and addressing it to the research question to make a reasoned argument proved to be a difficult task for many candidates. It was not unusual to see data presented with an assumption that it was self-explanatory, rather than stating how the data could be applied to help answer the research question and how it could be used to support or question economic theory. There was little evaluation of the data and how it could be used to form an argument. Better candidates were able to develop an argument based on a clear and cohesive evaluation of the results of the data, which they collected. Criterion E Conclusion In most cases, the conclusion was clear, relevant and consistent with the argument. However, a remarkable number of candidates failed to indicate unresolved or unanswered questions. Criterion F Abstract Most essays do now contain an Abstract, which is within the word count. Often there was some attempt to include all three required elements (research question, scope and conclusion), but it was rare that these were all clearly stated. Criterion G Formal presentation This should be an area where candidates receive top marks, given their IT skills, which appear to be of a high level. Weaknesses are noted in a lack of standard format for the Bibliography, especially organising it in alphabetical order and providing the full information including date and publisher. There seems t o be a major weakness in knowing when and how to provide a footnote (or endnote). Given that the candidates are writing a research essay with, in most cases, some use of secondary sources, it is remarkable how often ‘bits’ of information, which are clearly taken from other sources, are not cited. Another frequent error occurred as candidates would refer to a secondary source in their writing, but then not include the source in the Bibliography. Some students insist on presenting an appendix, which turns out to contain all the research material gathered – with extreme cases where the quantity of the material in the Appendix actually exceeded the quantity of the essay! Too many essays contained references to Internet material by a very simple website address which did not clearly identify the source, date or author of the material. Criterion H Holistic judgement Examiners are greatly helped with this criterion when the supervisors write an appropriate comment on the inside cover of the folder in which the essa y is submitted. Some evidence of the gathering of primary data was generally enough to score reasonably well on this criterion. Those that relied entirely on secondary sources with no original interpretation scored less well here. Subject specific criteria Criterion J Appropriate economic information The higher scoring essays gathered together and utilised an impressive amount of original data, often from primary sources. It should be noted that data gathered from Internet data banks is also a suitable source of information. Good essays must also, of course, include appropriate economic theory taken from textbooks. In some cases candidates made an earnest attempt to collect primary data through interviews or surveys but used poor questioning techniques, wh ich resulted in data which was superficial and not able to be related to economic theory, or was statistically invalid. Criterion K Using the language of economics This should be an area where the candidates perform well. All that is expected is that they use economic terms accurately and reliably whenever they are needed. However, in far too many cases candidates do not define the economic terms that they use, or define them in a very vague or incorrect manner. In the worst cases, candidates do not use the language of economics at all and write in a very general, descriptive manner. These tend to be the lowest scoring essays. EXTENDED ESSAY REPORTS – MAY 2003 Criterion L Understanding the relevant economic concepts In far too many cases, candidates failed to include all of the relevant concepts that were needed to answer the questions that they had posed. The ones presented were usually well explained, but concepts such as elasticity, or exchange rate determination were often ignored, when they would have been very useful in supporting the arguments being made in the essays. In weaker essays, economic concepts were often introduced in a separate section of the essay, and then not used again. In the weakest essays no economic concepts were introduced. Criterion M Use of relevant economic theory Many essays identified the relevant theory, but were unable to clearly explain or logically apply it to the research question. A significant number of candidates did not include any theory at all in their essays. This is the biggest weakness in this criterion. Too many essays are descriptive efforts that are written around poor, or inappropriate, research questions. Very often, these questions tend to be historic or business studies based. Examples might be, ‘What were the causes of the Vietnamese War?’ or ‘How was the stock market crash of the early 1980’s caused?’ Recommendations for the supervision of future candidates It is absolutely vital that supervisors make themselves very familiar with the IB guidelines and requirements for extended essays and that they make these available to their students. It is often all too evident that neither the candidate nor the supervisor has read the guidelines, as both the research question adopted and the approach taken are far more appropriate to another form of writing such as a research report, or simply a long essay. If teachers are uncertain about topics in which their students are interested or are worried about the suitability of the research questions, they should be encouraged to go onto the Online Curriculum Centre (OCC) for guidance. There is no reason why the weakest of candidates cannot gain more marks on the general criteria, if they are given proper assistance. The supervisor and candidate can check that the pages are numbered, the research question is stated early in the essay (printed in bold, if possible), necessary terms are defined, a bibliography is presented in a standard format, a conclusion is written, and an abstract is present and under 300 words. Candidates should be encouraged to ask themselves at all points of their writing if they are still answering the research question that they set themselves in the first place. In this way, they will find it easier to stay focused on their topic. This may be further aided by the candidates turning their research question into a hypothesis, so that they have an outcome to question. ...
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