Teaching the theory of knowledge course in International Baccalaureate World Schools (2016)
Liz Bergeron and Leslie Rogers—University of Wisconsin, La-Crosse
This study used a mixed-methods design to investigate the impact, perceptions and implementation of the theory of knowledge (TOK) course in International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools across all regions. To address the research questions, the researchers analysed quantitative survey data from 1,534 participants and conducted focus groups with 33 TOK teachers from schools in nine countries. Overwhelmingly, survey results indicated that teachers enjoy teaching the TOK course. Teachers identified the main purposes of TOK as helping students to develop an awareness of how knowledge is constructed and to assist students with making connections across academic disciplines. Teachers believed the primary benefits for students are the ability to critically evaluate knowledge and to identify and reflect on personal assumptions. Teachers strongly agreed that teaching TOK has been a valuable professional development experience for them. Specifically, they indicated it enhanced their own critical thinking and developed their interdisciplinary understanding. Survey results and focus groups suggest that the main challenges associated with TOK implementation are assessment, timing and administrative issues, such as scheduling and class size.