At the end of each term, students in IB Global Politics are tasked with completing a comprehensive review of their learning. While part of this review addresses concerns about assessment and grading in the course, the more interesting information comes in the way in which students rate themselves and their competencies with respect to the prescribed syllabus topics. Students were asked to rate their level of expertise (novice, competent, proficient, expert, master) on the key concepts that were embedded in our coursework, lessons, content, and assignments over the past thirteen weeks. The first four concepts-human rights, justice, liberty, and equality-are new concepts for the HL2 students this term. The second concepts-power, sovereignty, legitimacy, and cooperation-are a part of the core syllabus unit of Power, Sovereignty, and International Relations that runs through the entire 2-year course. The final set of concepts-international cooperation, international organization, treaties, and international legal agreements-are subsidiary concepts that are also a part of the Power, Sovereignty, and International Relations unit. I tabulated the results from the student surveys (N=16) in the table at the bottom. I also developed a simple index for each concept (5 points for master, 4 points for expert, 3 points for proficient, 2 points for competent, and 1 point for novice) to calculate an aggregate score for each concept. Finally, I graphed these results above as it pertains to the students' perceived level of accomplishment (or lack there of).
While there's a lot than can be drawn from this data, the most important bits for me are the ways in which students identify their perceived strengths and weaknesses in the course. For example, I am confident that most of the students feel confident that they have a high level of proficiency regarding the concept of human rights, but they are less confident when it comes to their understanding of liberty. In general, the students perceive that they have sustained a strong level of understanding of power, sovereignty, and cooperation over the year and half they have been in IB Global Politics, but less so when it comes to the idea of legitimacy. Finally, most of these students perceive that they have a weaker sustained understanding at this point in time of treaties and international legal agreements than they do about international organization and international cooperation.
So what? First and foremost; survey results such as these, those where the students are reflecting on their learning, allows me to target key areas of learning that need to be reviewed and reexamined in the remaining months of the course. Its clear from this set of data that I need to develop and facilitate games and simulations, case studies, and other learning opportunities that give students the opportunity to bolster their understanding of international law, justice, and liberty. I can use this data both at the aggregate (class) and individual level; this leads to very targeting learning for students in IB Global Politics HL2. Secondly, these results can also help the students see their own and their colleagues' strengths and weaknesses This should allow students to take an even more active role in their learning as they revise towards the IB exams in May.
I'll publish the results for the HL 1 group in a subsequent blog post. I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this information via a reply to this blog post.