Extended Essay
Research Reflection Space


Use of the Research Reflection Space is essential as it will allow you to more clearly articulate and understand your decision-making process. It supports learning, thinking, critical analysis and evaluation, and contributes not only to the development of a successful extended essay but also to skills and competencies for pathways beyond the Diploma Programme.

The RRS is a personal learning environment that can be either a physical or virtual support tool. It is a space in which students are able to record reflections on what they are reading, writing and thinking. The use of the RRS will help you to prepare for your reflection sessions with your supervisors and inform the discussions that take place. In preparing for your reflection sessions you should use your RRS to:

•          record your thoughts, line of thinking,

•          respond to artefacts, such as photos, newspaper clippings, twitter feeds, blogs, and so on

•          respond to prompts and questions that may arise in your subject area, TOK class or other aspects of the Diploma Programme

•          create mind maps 

•          record emerging questions

The idea of the RRS is not new and many students already keep research journals in the planning, researching and writing phases of their work on the extended essay.

Using a RRS will provide benefits in terms of the management of your workload and help you to retain focus on your extended essay as other time constraints take over.

You are encouraged to include in your RRS

•          Examples of initial topic exploration

•          Possible sources of information and the validity and reliability of these sources

•          The type of methodology you will use

•          Preliminary research questions

•          Your personal reactions to the issues.


Each student will be provided with a one note research and reflection space on Office 365

Guided Student Reflection


Reflections on Planning and Progress Form


The reflection on Planning and Progress Form will help the examiner to award you a level for Criteria E : Engagement (6marks). The form is mandatory and is restricted to 500 words in total. Make sure you utilize an economy of relevant and sharply focused summative words in order to achieve this.

Reflection needs to be focused on process. Ensure you demonstrate what you have learned about the topic as well as what you have learned about your own Approaches To Learning.



In attending their first reflection session with their supervisor, students can use notes made in the RRS as the basis for discussion as well as to demonstrate the progress students have made in the research process.

As their RRS develops, students can demonstrate the progress of their thinking, the development of their argument and raise any questions they may have with their supervisor. 


Example of the first reflection section:

We have currently completed two Extended Essay days whereby we have finalized our subject choices and completed our preliminary research for our chosen subjects. I was originally going to complete a business management EE, however, I opted for a Language and Literature EE instead, as I would have more engagement with the subject. I was feeling a little bit stressed when I decided to change as my progress would be hindered. However, I remained focused on the topic at hand so I completed a lot of work. Research was conducted on the internet using websites and journals. I also studied Mark Tushnet's 1992 paper on the effect of political correctness on the legal system. This new topic was definitely more engaging for myself and I am enjoying researching this topic much more than the prior.


At this stage the RRS may include reactions to readings, progress in the timeline for completion of the extended essay, a possible outline of arguments, challenges encountered and the strategies used to overcome them. 


Example of the interim reflection:

Since the last reflection, my Extended Essay has changed dramatically. I have found that my previous topic is much too broad for a 4000 word essay, so I have decided to instead research the use of social media in presidential campaigns by Barack Obama in 2008 and Donald Trump in 2016. I have been able to recover much of my progress in the last month and I have learned all about the different marketing techniques used in presidential campaigns as well as the different ways language is utilized by different characters according to their target audience. This research has been successful as I have a clear plan of my introduction, different arguments and my conclusion. This is also reinforced by my exact points of each argument, the research I have conducted and the format. My new research plan includes the use of academic journals from Stephanie Takaragawa and Chang Liu about internet usage in presidential campaigns by Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2016 respectively.


During the viva voce, which takes place at the completion of the extended essay process, the RRS can form the basis for discussion about the process of completing the essay. Students can show what they have learned about the topic, the research process followed, their own learning, as well as outlining new questions they have uncovered. Most importantly, during the viva voce the RRS may help to highlight the personal significance of the work to the student and ultimately contribute to the supervisor's report. 


Example of the final reflection:

My extended essay is now completed and the process is complete. If I were to complete it again I would ensure that I had a focused research question from the beginning. I found myself changing it regularly up to a certain point during the process. I am satisfied with my methodological approach as I was able to gain enough information from balanced sources to be able to synthesize my own conclusions about the topic at hand. This was vital in creating my extended essay as I tried to avoid presenting ideas that other people have already produced and attempted to identify and explain my own ideas of the implications involved in this topic. I was surprised when I understood the power of social media in politics and its future implications. If I understood this aspect earlier in the process, I may have focused on an essay about the future implications of internet usage in politics. I am still very happy with my extended essay and especially what I have gained from completing it; including the ability to critically analyze sources, especially given the inherent biases in media today, as well as the ability to synthesize independent conclusions about the topic at hand.

RPPF exemplars

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