The theory of knowledge (TOK) requirement is at the heart of educational philosophy of the IB Diploma Programme. Both the diploma and the IB Learner Profile are designed around TOK and all diploma students in every IB World School must study and pass the course.
The main question in Theory of Knowledge is 'How do we know?' (this is referred to as a ´knowledge question' or ´knowledge issue'. The course allows and encourages students to think critically about all of their classes and avoid passive learning. Critical thinking involves deciding what are good questions, using precise language, supporting ideas with evidence, making coherent arguments, acting ethically and making sound judgments.
Students receive two dedicated lessons of Theory of Knowledge each week in year 12 and 13 from specialist teachers. They are expected to use the skills they develop and take them into all of their other classes. If this is not happening, then they are not fully understanding the requirements of the diploma programme. All subject teachers are required to give them opportunities to use their critical thinking skills and objectively question and assess knowledge questions in their classes.
In their Theory of Knowledge classes, students will be assessed on their contributions to classroom discussions, their presentation skills in a formal setting and their essay writing abilities. They are expected to read around all of the ways of knowing and areas of knowledge at home and develop a deep understanding of all of them.
Formal Assessment by the IB
The IB does not require diploma students to sit written examinations in Theory of Knowledge. They are assessed by means of a formal presentation and a written essay in year 13 on one of the titles published by the IB in September. The presentations are marked by the theory of knowledge teachers. They are recorded and moderated externally by IB. The formal essay is marked externally by dedicated IB examiners. Both are assessed using set criteria published by the IB.