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Reflecting and the IBDP Extended Essay: The RRS & 3 Formal Reflections

Reflecting is a key part of the IBDP Extended Essay and one that is often overlooked and rushed by students and supervisors alike. In this post I will clarify the differences between the three student reflections and give some tips and tricks for both students and teachers. In my experience as the EE coordinator I have found that some students procrastinate their reflections and end up writing all three of them at the end of the process. These kinds of reflections are superficial and tend to perform poorly when being assessed by IB examiners.

The Researcher's Reflection Space

One of the easiest ways to ensure that students and supervisors reflect together throughout the process and have evidence to pull from for their formal reflections is the Researcher's Reflection Space (RRS). This tool is reference many times in the IBDP EE Guide, but is often overlooked. When I took on my current role as EE Coordinator I created a Google Doc version of the RRS as the IBO doesn't provide a specific format. You can see a screenshot of it below... it is a document to be used over the entire EE process with space for students to reflect on their EE process as well as space for supervisors to comment. I highly recommend that every EE meeting whether it is with the EE supervisor or EE coordinator begin and/or end with the RRS. You can make a copy of this Google Doc resource for free here.

Formal Reflection #1 : The First Reflection

This short reflection (about 100 words) usually takes place after the student has determined their subject area, their supervisor has been assigned and they have they have completed at least an outline for their essay. I recommend waiting until at least an outline has been produced before writing this reflection as many students find that they need to change their research questions once they begin to organize their sources into an outline. This happens at my current school at the end of January in Year 1, if you would like to learn more about the process we use check out this blog post.

The first reflection should focus on:

  • decision-making up to this point

  • time management

  • successes and challenges

  • conceptual understandings of the content knowledge required to answer the research question

Before the first formal reflection meeting with their supervisor students should complete their reflection in the RPP (Reflections on Planning and Progress) form using their RRS to help and share it with their supervisor. Your IBDP/EE Coordinator should have the form or you can get it here. The supervisor will need to include their initials and the date of the reflection in the form.

Extended Essay RPP Form_en
Download PDF • 808KB

Formal Reflection #2 : The Interim Reflection

It is important that this reflection be about mid-way through the process, in the case of my school we do the interim reflection after students receive feedback from their supervisors on their first 2500 word draft. In our case this happens in late April of Year 1.

The interim reflection should focus on:

  • time management

  • engagement with the data

  • the research process

  • the chosen methodology

  • the appropriateness of chosen sources

Like every reflection, after the student writes their reflection (about 200 words) they should share it in the RPP form with their supervisor and have a meeting to discuss their reflections up to this point in the process. The RRS should be used as a key tool in both preparing the reflections and during the meeting between the supervisor and student.

Formal Reflection #3 : The Viva Voce

This final reflection (about 200 words) is the crowning achievement of the entire Extended Essay process! It is meant to be a celebration of the EE journey and allow for in-depth reflections by the student facilitated by some questions asked by the supervisor as well as reference to the RRS. You can find a list of free Viva Voce prompts for supervisors in my TPT shop here. Students should write their final reflection in the RRP form BEFORE the Viva Voce interview, it should include reflections on:

  • decision-making throughout the process

  • conceptual understandings gained through the EE process

  • engagement with the data (both primary and secondary data)

  • the research process

  • time management

  • the methodology applied

  • the appropriateness of sources used (especially key sources)

  • successes and challenges throughout the process

Once students have completed their reflections in the RPP form they should submit it to their supervisor who will complete the singular supervisor reflection after the Viva Voce. This reflection is not seen by the student and is the final opportunity for the supervisor to express any concerns they may have about the originality of the students work as well as highlight the key components of the students journey. This comment is not related to assessment of the EE, but should focus on the EE process the student and supervisor went through.

I have found that students often struggle with writing quality reflections, for this reason I created a resource for my students the Reflecting and the EE Guide which includes a checklist for each reflection, prompts to guide students and supervisors, key information from the rubric and exemplars. If this sounds useful for you and your students you can purchase it here in my TPT shop.

Enjoy the EE process and don't forget to refer to the RRS at every student-supervisor meeting, it really makes a difference to the quality of their final reflections!

Thanks for reading teachers, travelers and curious souls of all kinds,

The Roaming Scientist



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm the kind of teacher who is always trying something new, new labs, new Apps, new scaffolds and even new countries to live and teach in. I'm looking forward to share what I learn with you all through my weekly blog posts. 

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