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If you’ve been in an IB school for awhile, you probably remember hearing older students talking about their Theory of Knowledge presentations. You may have even watched some of them. These presentations formed the ‘internal assessment’ section of TOK, with the TOK essay as the ‘external assessment’. 

The IBO recently changed the structure of the TOK course. Now, they are asking students to create a Theory of Knowledge exhibition. In this post we’ll take a look at how this differs from the old presentations and what the most important parts are. 

No more group work!

Previously, you were asked to analyse a real life situation using a knowledge question that you created. This was designed to be a less theoretical assignment than the TOK essay. You were allowed to work on your own or in groups of up to three people. The time given for you to present varied based on the number of people in the group. This meant that the level of analysis possible varied based on the size of your group. This was often tricky to balance!

In the new Theory of Knowledge exhibition, you must work alone. This may seem like less fun, but it does help make the level of analysis expected clearer! Don’t forget that you’ll still be able to discuss your thoughts in class and bounce ideas off each other that way. 

Introducing Objects

Just like the old presentation, the exhibition is all about linking the theories you’ve learnt about to real life situations. However, as it’s now an exhibition, you need to have objects to exhibit! This is probably the biggest change.

This might sound restrictive, but the definition of what an object is is actually very broad. You can include both digital and physical objects. A digital object can be a photo of a physical object that you can’t realistically display. This might be an artefact in a museum or massive ship like the Titanic.

Digital objects can also be things like a tweet from a celebrity or world leader, an Instagram post, or a news article. The key characteristic of a digital object is that it has a specific place and time associated with it. For example, a tweet has a specific location (Twitter) and time (when it was posted). This opens up so many possibilities for objects you can include! 

It’s important to note that physical objects used must exist in the world generally. You can create your own objects, but they have to be recreations of pre-existing objects. This means that you can’t create your own invention to use in the exhibition. 

The objects are a great way to show your creativity and enable you to investigate real life situations that are relevant to your personal interests. 

New Assessment Method

Previously, the Theory of Knowledge presentation was predominantly assessed using a form that you filled out about your presentation. Students often found this frustrating as it meant you had to focus a lot on the form when you were doing a presentation. 

Now, you get to choose a prompt to link your objects with. Then you get to write an analysis of each object and how it connects to the prompt that you have chosen. This may seem like extra work. However, it should mean that the grading of the exhibition is much more standardised that it was for the presentation!

One challenge is going to be staying within the word count. You get 950 words for your analysis. It’s not a lot! Focusing on being concise will be key for this.

If you’re struggling with TOK, check out our other blog posts on the subject here. Every year we dissect the essay titles - make sure to keep an eye out for next year’s post if you’re in DP1. If you’re writing your essay now, check out this year’s post here! If these resources aren’t enough, check out our online private tuition services here

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