IB: Theory of Knowledge

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IB: Theory of Knowledge

Thomas Ross-Sean Meehan-Linda Rogers


     The Theory of Knowledge is an interdisciplinary course designed to challenge students to develop the skills to analyze, reflect upon and critique the bases of their accumulated knowledge and systems for processing and acquiring knowledge.  The students will explore the question of how they know what they know.


     To achieve this end, the student will be encouraged to analyze the problems associated with “knowing” and recognize the emotional, linguistic and cultural norms that effect their perspectives and influence their decisions.  The course is designed to challenge assumptions of truth, knowledge, certainty and evidence.  The students will develop the skills to critique sources, develop an awareness of themselves as “knowers” and assume ownership of the course by developing their own coherent approach to learning that transcends and unifies academic areas (mathematics, natural science, social science, history, art and ethics).


      The students will examine the impact of the filters of knowledge: emotion, logic, language and perception upon their understanding of the broader areas of knowledge.  They will examine their ways of knowing within the context of multicultural beliefs, varying views of evidence, interpretation and intuition.


•    Develop a fascination with the richness of knowledge as a human endeavor, and an understanding of the empowerment that follows from reflecting upon it

•    Develop an awareness of how knowledge is constructed, critically examined, evaluated and renewed, by communities and individuals

•    Encourage students to reflect on their experiences as learners, in everyday life and in the Diploma Programme, and to make connections between academic disciplines and between thoughts, feelings and actions

•    Encourage an interest in the diversity of ways of thinking and ways of living of individuals and communities, and an awareness of personal and ideological assumptions, including participants’ own

•    Encourage consideration of the responsibilities originating from the relationship between knowledge, the community and the individual as citizen of the world.


•    Analyze critically knowledge claims, their underlying assumptions and their implications

•    Generate questions, explanations, conjectures, hypotheses, alternative ideas and possible solutions in response to knowledge issues concerning areas of knowledge, ways of knowing and students’ own experience as learners

•    Demonstrate an understanding of different perspectives on knowledge issues

•    Draw links and make effective comparisons between different approaches to knowledge issues that derive from areas of knowledge, ways of knowing, theoretical positions and cultural values

•    Demonstrate an ability to give a personal, self-aware response to a knowledge issue

•    Formulate and communicate ideas clearly with due regard for accuracy and academic honesty.

IB Assessments

Part 1:  The TOK Essay: External Assessment (40 points)

The Essay will be on one of ten Prescribed Titles (1200-1600 words).  Prescribed Essay titles may not be modified.  Students will be made aware that they will be evaluated on the criteria of:  Knowledge Issues; Quality of Analysis; Breadth and Links; Structure, Clarity and Logic; Examples; Factual Accuracy and Reliability. Each Essay will be submitted with a properly completed TK/CS form. Students will be encouraged and supported in writing the essay; however, the work will be their own. Emphasis will be placed on proper citation, clarity and focus.  Guidelines for acknowledgements, references, bibliographies, essay length and authenticity will be followed per the TOK subject guide.


Part 2:  The TOK Presentation: Internal Assessment (20 points)

Students will complete two to three presentations on topics relevant to TOK and complete a self-evaluation report (form TK/SER) to be retained by the IB Coordinator (unless requested).  The best of these three presentations will be used for the purpose of assessment.  Presentations will be assessed using the assessment criteria in the TOK Guide.  Copies of the assessment criteria will be made available to all students. Guidance concerning classroom management will be followed per the TOK subject guide.


NOTE: A student who fails to submit a TOK essay or who fails to make a presentation will not be awarded an IB diploma regardless of diploma points earned or grades in other IB courses. Performance in both Theory of Knowledge and the Extended Essay of an Elementary Standard is a failing condition for the award of the diploma.

Diploma Points Matrix

•    Points awarded for the externally assessed component, part 1, the essay on a prescribed title (40 points), and for the internally assessed component, part 2, the presentation (20 points), are combined to give a total out of 60. The grade boundaries are then applied, to determine the band (A to E) to which the student’s performance in TOK belongs.


BTHS Assessment

Course Grade

Marking Period

  • 40% Marking Period 1

  • 40% Marking Period 2

  • 10% Midterm

  • 10% Final

60% Major Assessments

•    Tests, Major Alternative Assessments, TOK Presentations, TOK Essay, Participation/Notebook

40% Minor Assessments

•    Minor Assessments, Homework


Late/Missing Assignments

•    All assignments are due at the beginning of the period that the particular section meets, or at the given time/date in the case of electronic assignments. Unless there is a legitimate school absence, no credit may be given for late homework or minor assessments. In the event an absence, students should hand in any owed assignments immediately upon returning to school and will have 24 hours to make up any work missed. It is the student’s responsibility to find out what it was that they missed, and to make up work and obtain class notes. In the event of a prolonged absence, special arrangements should be made through the guidance department.

•    Unless an emergency, the teacher must be made aware of any planned absences or field trips at least 5 days in advance. Failure to do so may result in zeros for any missed assignments.

•    Late Major assessments/projects/essays will have a 10% reduction in grade per school day.

Academic Integrity

•    Plagiarism can be understood as either the intentional or unintentional use of another’s ideas or words without clearly acknowledging the source of that information. Academic dishonesty may include handing in another’s work as your own, cheating on an assignment/test/project, or the unauthorized reuse of an assignment created for another class. Both plagiarism and academic dishonesty are incredibly serious violations and may result in disciplinary action against the student/s according to school board policy.

Required Course Materials

•    Theory of Knowledge By Lagemaat (Covered)

•    2” Binder with tabbed dividers

•    Lined Paper

•    Writing utensil
Classroom Behavior

•    Students are expected to be respectful & attentive in class. Class participation is an essential component of the course. Students must prepare before class to be able to successfully contribute to it. Participation is a significant part of the course grade.

•    To be counted as on time to class, you must be in your seat with what you are required to bring that day (binder, assignments, pens/pencils) and be ready to work when the bell rings. Otherwise, you will be counted as late to class.

•    Follow all school rules at all times within the classroom. Beyond that, realize that you are not the only person in the classroom affected by your behavior. Respect everyone and always follow your conscience when making a decision. If you don’t have a conscience, I’ll be happy to provide one for you. Additionally:

-    No eating or drinking (except water)

-    Absolutely no use of cell phones, iPods, or digital cameras in the classroom


•    Students are expected to check the wiki and/or their email regularly for any assignments given.

•    Unless otherwise discussed, all written assignments must be submitted in hard copy.  Many of our assignments, however, will be submitted electronically this year, so please be prepared and do not plan on using technology as an excuse on a regular basis.  Always have a back up plan!  We are reasonable people, so please talk to us if a problem arises.
Questions & Concerns

If you have a question or concern about class work, want to schedule make-up assignments, or have a question about a grade, we are always available to meet with you before homeroom or immediately after school. We are available for extra help, but you need to speak to us in advance. Otherwise, all other meetings are by appointment.  

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email us and we will get back to you as soon as possible, usually within 24 hours.

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