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Extended Essay: Sample prompts for the RRS

A guide to the research process involved in your EE.

Prompts to Help

These prompts will help students at various points of their research and writing in their RRS. Supervisors can add to these as they see fit and invite students to select those that will help them think through their research.

Noticing the issues around us

Initial ideas Interim reflections Concluding thoughts
Start to note everyday life situations that remind you of the local–global connections you are exploring in your study. In what ways have your ideas about these situations changed as you progressed in your research? Use one sentence or a collage of images to explain how these situations connect the local to the global.
Select a few products, people, institutions or happenings that you feel are relevant to the issue under study. Note down your understanding of them prior to your research. What are some of the different ways in which you have come to look at these selected products, people, institutions or happenings? In what areas have you not only maintained your initial ideas, but also deepened them? What developments are there in the way you view products, people, institutions and happenings around you as you study this issue? How would you explain these developments?
Start a map of connections for your issue that would illustrate how it connects you to people and communities outside your country. For example, if you are researching the automobile industry, you could use a world map to link the car in your garage to the rest of the world in terms of how the various parts of the car come from different parts of the world. On your map, note down information that you have found about these connections as you research the issue. For example, you can record the amount of money invested in the automobile industry, the kinds of countries that the car parts are manufactured in, the salaries that the workers in different countries earn. Reflect on how you feel about these connections. Are these connections positive or negative developments? What is your role in these connections? How do you feel about your role?
Start a ripple chart that illustrates how the impact of the issue under study can be felt in increasingly expanding circles beyond your community.

Consider questions such as:

  • Who or what creates these ripples?
  • What impact do these ripples have on people and their ways of life?
Reflect on whether these ripples are creating a greater sense of interconnectedness among people, or whether they are creating tensions.
Record the new ideas, terms and people connected to your study that you have come to know and understand as a result of your study.

Understanding the world in which we live

Initial ideas Interim reflections Concluding thoughts
Consider why the issue you chose to study is personally relevant to you. For example, you can write about the first time that the issue came to your attention, and the subsequent significant moments in your life up to the beginning of the research process when you had questions about the issue or developed your understanding of it. Record how the issue under study has had connections to your life as you research it. Reflect on the thread of connections that the issue has to your life, and how your understanding of it has developed in the process of your research.
Brainstorm how you would conduct research for your study—the people you would interview, the disciplines you would address, the perspectives you would include—to deepen your understanding of the issue.

What have you learned about the issue from:

  • people you have interviewed
  • disciplines you have studied
  • perspectives you have chosen?

Include also the people, disciplines or perspectives that you had not previously considered, but have now found to be salient to your study.

Reflect on the ways in which your approach to your study has taken on new directions as you progressed in your research and uncovered the complexity of the issue.

For example, how did having to include new sources of information help you understand the magnitude or complexity of the problem, as well as your own role as a researcher?

Consider the different people and institutions who are involved in the issue under study. Record how these people and institutions have dealt with the issue, and the reasons for their actions and/or choices. Reflect on how this issue has been dealt with by different people and institutions, and discuss why they have taken different stances in relation to the issue. Decide if you agree with their stance.
Jot down your ideas about the issue before you begin researching it. Record the changes or developments in these ideas as you conduct the research. How have your initial ideas about the issue been affected by your study? Why do you think this has happened?
Write an initial introduction to the issue that you want to research. What are the changes or modifications to your introduction that you would make as you reach this point in your research? What is your final version of the introduction? Why have you made the changes that you did, and how are these changes a better reflection of the issue?
Record key quotations related to your study that you feel are important or intriguing. Record your responses to these quotations, particularly with regard to why you found them illuminating or puzzling. Look through your responses and decide if you would modify or change anything. Reflect on your decision to change or not change anything.
Collect photographs/images related to the issue under study. Caption the photographs/images so that they accurately reflect your personal ideas about and responses to how they articulate the issue. Look through your captions and decide if you would modify or change anything. Reflect on your decision to change or not change anything.
Create a concept map that shows or illustrates the connections that your study has made with regard to dimensions of the issues (for example, key players involved, places and cultures affected).
As you conduct the research, critique the information that you have collected and consider why certain decisions have been made, certain views have been adopted, and how these decisions and views affect the issue under study. For example, you may choose to create a flow chart that records how the decisions regarding the issue were arrived at.
Record the ideas from each perspective that you’ve chosen to use in your study of the issue. What do they help you to understand about the issue, and how do they come together to help you build a full picture of the issue?

Becoming a more globally conscious learner

Initial ideas Interim reflections Concluding thoughts
What goals do you have for your life? Record where you would like to see yourself 10 years from now. What changes would you make to the goals that you have for your life after studying the issue? What are the reasons for these changes? Reflect on how studying this issue has affected the goals that you have for your life. Where would you see yourself a decade from now with regard to the issue that you’ve studied?
What are some other global issues that you had considered for your research study? Consider how your current research reveals insights about these other global issues (for example, the complexity of and the global players in the issue). What other global issue would you want to research now? Provide reasons for your choice.
Before you start the study, write down what you feel your role is with regard to the issue. For example, think about the impact that the issue has on you, what you can do about the issue, and what reasons you would have for doing or not doing anything. Look back on your initial ideas and consider how you feel about your role and your capacity for action now. Has anything changed? Reflect on the development in the way you see yourself with regard to the issue, and where you would now locate yourself as an actor in the issue.
How would you describe yourself? What are the affiliations that you would identify yourself with, and why do you feel that these affiliations are important? Look back on your description and decide if there are new ways in which you see yourself, and if there are changes that you may want to make to the description. If there are no changes, consider why that is so. How would you now describe yourself? What are the changes that you have undergone as a result of the study? Reflect on the changes to the description that you have made, and your reasons for doing so.
Consider what your study reveals about who you are as a citizen of your school, your town, your country and the world. How has this understanding affected your attitude towards the issue, and what have you been motivated to do as a result?

Think about how your interest in this issue first started. Was it a place, a person, or an incident related to it that sparked your interest? How has your life become tied to this issue? For example, you can describe:

  • an encounter with a person from a different culture
  • a conversation between a parent or relative who is involved in scientific research and one who is a non-scientist
  • an incident where you witnessed the effects of technology on someone.
Write a letter to a person who can influence the issue in ways that are either positive or negative, and explain your thoughts and feelings on the issue. You should also include an appeal to the person to act in certain ways that you feel will be beneficial.

Consider practical ways in which you can influence the issue in your study. Select one and detail how you would go about the intervention. For example, you can describe:

  • the form of the intervention (such as an awareness campaign, an online petition, a microfinance programme) and the reasons why you consider this to be most feasible or influential
  • the target audience for the intervention and why you have selected them
  • the people who are actively involved in the kind of intervention that you’re considering, and who you can approach or research to understand how such interventions work
  • the ways in which you will communicate your message (such as what kind of poster you would create and what would feature on it to be effective)
  • the methods by which you will assess the effectiveness of your intervention.