Exploring the benefits of the International Baccalaureate extended essay for university studies at the University of Virginia (2013)

Center for Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, University of Virginia (UVA)

This mixed methods study, conducted at the University of Virginia (UVA), USA, uses student records, surveys and semi-structured interviews to better understand the research experience of former International Baccalaureate (IB) students, describe student perceptions of the value of the extended essay (EE) experience and determine if any correlations exist between EE grades and university academic success. For the survey, former IB students (n=1,045) and a comparison sample of former Advanced Placement (AP) students (n=1,046) were selected for participation. The total number of respondents was 953. Respondents generally felt academically prepared for college-level courses. Former IB students felt strongly that their EE experience prepared them to conduct the various facets of the research process. When compared with former AP students, IB students were significantly more likely to indicate that they: felt prepared for college-level coursework involving research; had executed a research project at UVA; were proud of their research; intended to conduct future research; and found their research skills to be important to future success. The 21 focus group and individual interviewees indicated specific skills that were augmented by completing the EE project. Finally, findings showed a statistically significant relationship between EE score and college grade point averages (GPAs), after controlling for background characteristics.

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