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The Essential Elements of an IB Education

5 Essential Elements


Both disciplinary, represented by traditional subject areas (language, maths, science, social studies, arts, PSPE) and transdisciplinary.


Students explore through structured inquiry in order to develop coherent, in-depth understanding, and which have relevance both within and beyond subject areas.

Form: What is it like?

Function: How does it work?

Causation: Why is it the way it is?

Change: How is it changing?

Connection: How is it connected to other things?

Perspective: What are the points of view?

Responsibility: what is our responsibility?

Reflection: How do we know?

Transdisciplinary Skills

Thinking Skills

Acquisition of knowledge

Gaining specific facts, ideas, vocabulary; remembering in a similar form.


Grasping meaning from material learned; communicating and interpreting learning.


Making use of previously acquired knowledge in practical or new ways.

Dialectical thought

Thinking about two or more different points of view at the same time; understanding those points of view; being able to construct an argument for each point of view based on knowledge of the other(s); realizing that other people can also take one’s own point of view.


Taking knowledge or ideas apart; separating into component parts; seeing relationships; finding unique characteristics.


Combining parts to create wholes; creating, designing, developing and innovating.


Making judgments or decisions based on chosen criteria; standards and conditions.


Analyzing one’s own and others’ thought processes; thinking about how one thinks and how one learns.


Social Skills

Accepting Responsibility

Taking on and completing tasks in an appropriate manner; being willing to assume a share of the responsibility.

Respecting Others

Listening sensitively to others; making decisions based on fairness and equality; recognizing that others’ beliefs, viewpoints, religions and ideas may differ from one’s own; stating one’s opinion without hurting others.


Working cooperatively in a group; being courteous to others; sharing materials; taking turns.

Resolving Conflict

Listening carefully to others; compromising; reacting reasonably to the situation; accepting responsibility appropriately; being fair.

Group Decision-Making

Listening to others; discussing ideas; asking questions; working towards and obtaining consensus.

Adopting a variety of group roles

Understanding what behavior is appropriate in a given situation and acting accordingly; being a leader in some circumstances, a follower in others.

Communication Skills


Listening to directions; listening to others; listening to information.


Speaking clearly; giving oral reports to small and large groups; expressing ideas clearly and logically; stating opinions.





Non-verbal Communication

Self Management Skills

Gross Motor Skills

Exhibiting skills in which groups of large muscles are used and the factor of strength is primary

Fine Motor Skills

Exhibiting skills in which precision in delicate muscle systems is required.

Spatial Awareness

Displaying a sensitivity to the position of objects in relation to oneself or each other.


Planning and carrying out activities effecively.

Time Management

Using time effectively and appropriately.


Engaging in personal behavior that avoids placing oneself or others in danger or at risk.

Healthy Life Style

Making informed choices to achieve a balance in nutrition, rest, relaxation and exercise; practising appropriate hygiene and self-care.

Codes of Behavior

Knowing and applying appropriate rules or operating procedures of groups of people.

Informed Choices

Selecting an appropriate course of action or behavior based on fact or opinion.

Research Skills

Formulating Questions

Identifying something one wants or needs to know and asking compelling and relevant questions that can be researched.


Using all the senses to notice relevant details.


Developing a course of action; writing an outline; devising ways of finding out necessary information.

Collecting Data

Gathering information from a variety of first- and second-hand sources such as maps, surveys, direct observation, books, films, people, museums and ICT.

Recording Data

Describing and recording observations by drawing, note taking, making charts, tallying, writing statements.

Organizing Data

Sorting and categorizing information; arranging into understandable forms such as narrative descriptions, tables, timelines, graphs and diagrams.

Interpreting Data

Drawing conclusions from relationships and patterns that emerge from organized data.

Presenting research findings

Effectively communicating what has been learned; choosing appropriate media.



Appreciating the wonder and beauty of the world and its people.


Being committed to their own learning, persevering and showing self-discipline and responsibility.


Feeling confident in their ability as learners, having the courage to take risks, applying what they have learned and making appropriate decisions and choices.


Cooperating, collaborating, and leading or following as the situation demands.


Being creative and imaginative in their thinking and in their approach to problems and dilemmas.


Being curious about the nature of learning, about the world, its people and cultures.


Imagining themselves in another’s situation in order to understand his or her reasoning and emotions, so as to be
open-minded and reflective about the perspectives of others.


Enjoying learning and willingly putting the effort into the process.


Thinking and acting independently, making their own
judgments based on reasoned argument, and being able to
defend their judgments.


Being honest and demonstrating a considered sense of fairness.


Respecting themselves, others and the world around them.


Being sensitive about differences and diversity in the world and being responsive to the needs of others.


  • Students independently initiates action that impacts self and others.
  • Students are able to take teacher direction to apply action that impacts self and others
  • Students are able to recognize examples of action and understand potential impact on self and others.