The Importance of Reflection

Why you should undertake reflection throughout your EE

Being reflective is one of the attributes of the IB learner profile and all three elements of the core of the Diploma Programme (EE, TOK and CAS), have reflection embedded within them. It is an essential skill that all learners need to develop.

The reflection you do as part of the EE process is a critical evaluation of your decision-making process.

The reflection you undertake should demonstrate:

  • How your conceptual understandings related to your question and research has developed.

  • The rationale for your decisions, conclusions and recommendations.

  • How your skills and understanding have improved.

  • The authenticity of your work as they are written in your ‘voice’.

  • Your level of engagement with the EE process both intellectually (what you learned about the topic) and personally (what you have learned about you as a learner).

The Researcher’s Reflection Space (RRS)

A researcher’s reflection space (RRS) is a physical or digital journal where you can write reflections about what you are reading, writing and thinking in relation to your EE.

Using an RRS can help you in a number of ways including:

  • Preparing for your three formal reflection sessions with your supervisor.

  • Managing your EE workload.

  • Maintaining focus on your EE throughout the process.

  • Capturing any emerging questions you have.

Although not compulsory, using a RRS will help you more clearly articulate your decision-making process.

Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF)

The RPPF captures your reflections after three separate reflection sessions with your supervisor. The RPPF gets submitted to the IBO and is used with your actual essay to determine your grade. Using your completed RPPF the examiners gain an insight into your thinking processes and how these have developed over time. Your completed RPPF is solely used to assess criterion E which is worth 18% of the total EE grade, so you can see how important it is!

Once you have entered a reflection on the RPPF, you must not amend it later in the EE process.

Although you may have informal meetings and discussions with your supervisor throughout the EE process, there are three mandatory reflection sessions that must take place. After each one you will add a reflection to your RPPF based on reflections you completed in your RRS and the meeting you had with your supervisor.

Only the first 500 words of your combined reflections will be assessed by the examiner.

This table provides some additional information.

Reflection Session



First Reflection

Takes place early in the EE process.

Focuses on initial ideas, how you plan to do your research and formulating a suitable EE topic and research question.

Should be around 150 words.

Use your RRS to discuss with your supervisor why you are interested in your chosen topic, how you will link it to the relevant IB subject and any outstanding questions you have.

Interim Reflection

Takes place after you have completed a significant proportion of your research and have started writing the essay.

Focuses on how your thinking and arguments have developed and any challenges you have faced.

Should be around 150 words.

Use your RRS to discuss with your supervisor whether you have sufficient data and information to answer your research question, whether or not your question needs to be reformulated, what your reaction to your research is and how you have overcome any challenges.

Final Reflection (Viva Voce)

Takes place after your final essay has been submitted.

Focuses on how you have grown as a learner, your personal experience with the EE process, and what improvements could have been made to your own working practices with hindsight.

Should be around 200 words.

This session is more of an interview than a discussion and will be longer than the previous two sessions. However, you should use your RRS to reflect on the successes and difficulties you faced in the research process and to provide evidence of your learning experience.

This screencast looks at the RPPF in a little more detail.

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