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Economics – Higher Level

group3aEconomics is a dynamic social science, forming part of group 3—individuals and societies. The study of economics is essentially about dealing with scarcity, resource allocation and the methods and processes by which choices are made in the satisfaction of human wants. As a social science, economics uses scientific methodologies that include quantitative and qualitative elements.

The IB Diploma Programme economics course emphasizes the economic theories of microeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting individuals, firms and markets, and the economic theories of macroeconomics, which deal with economic variables affecting countries, governments and societies. These economic theories are not to be studied in a vacuum—rather, they are to be applied to real-world issues. Prominent among these issues are fluctuations in economic activity, international trade, economic development and environmental sustainability.

The ethical dimensions involved in the application of economic theories and policies permeate throughout the economics course as students are required to consider and reflect on human end-goals and values. The economics course encourages students to develop international perspectives, fosters a concern for global issues, and raises students’ awareness of their own responsibilities at a local, national and international level. The course also seeks to develop values and attitudes that will enable students to achieve a degree of personal commitment in trying to resolve these issues, appreciating our shared responsibility as citizens of an increasingly interdependent world.

The aims are to:

  • encourage the systematic and critical study of: human experience and behaviour; physical, economic and social environments; and the history and development of social and cultural institutions
  • develop in the student the capacity to identify, to analyse critically and to evaluate theories, concepts and arguments about the nature and activities of the individual and society
  • enable the student to collect, describe and analyse data used in studies of society, to test hypotheses, and to interpret complex data and source material
  • promote the appreciation of the way in which learning is relevant both to the culture in which the student lives, and to the culture of other societies
  • develop an awareness in the student that human attitudes and beliefs are widely diverse and that the study of society requires an appreciation of such diversity
  • enable the student to recognize that the content and methodologies of the subjects in group 3 are contestable and that their study requires the tolerance of uncertainty.
  • develop an understanding of microeconomic and macroeconomic theories and concepts and their real-world application
  • develop an appreciation of the impact on individuals and societies of economic interactions between nations
  • develop an awareness of development issues facing nations as they undergo the process of change.

Economics and Theory of Knowledge

Students of group 3 subjects study individuals and societies. This means that they explore the interactions between humans and their environment in time and place. As a result, these subjects are often known collectively as the “human sciences” or “social sciences”.

As with other subject areas, there is a variety of ways in which to gain knowledge in group 3 subjects. For example, archival evidence, data collection, experimentation, observation, inductive and deductive reasoning can all be used to help explain patterns of behaviour and lead to knowledge claims. Students in group 3 subjects are required to evaluate these knowledge claims by exploring knowledge issues such as validity, reliability, credibility, certainty, and individual as well as cultural perspectives.

The relationship between each subject and theory of knowledge (TOK) is of crucial importance and fundamental to the Diploma Programme. Having followed a course of study in group 3, students should be able to reflect critically on the various ways of knowing and the methods used in human sciences, and in doing so, become the “inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people” of the IB mission statement.

During the economics course a number of issues will arise that highlight the relationships between TOK and economics. Some of the questions that could be considered during the course are identified within the syllabus (see the section “The foundations of economics” in “Approaches to the teaching of economics”, as well as “Syllabus”). Teachers and their students are encouraged to explore further questions of their own.

Economics and the International Dimension

The economics course embodies global and international awareness in several distinct ways. Two of the four sections of the course are devoted to specific areas of economics that contribute to international awareness and understanding—section 3: international economics, and section 4: development economics. In addition, earlier topics in the course explore the ways in which different countries deal with common economic issues such as government intervention, market failure, sustainability, and achieving macroeconomic objectives. Inherent in the syllabus is a consideration of different perspectives, economic circumstances, and social and cultural diversity.

Economics seeks to develop international understanding and foster a concern for global issues, as well as to raise students’ awareness of their own responsibility at a local and national level. Economics also aims to develop values and attitudes that will help students reach a degree of personal commitment in trying to resolve these issues, appreciating our shared responsibility as citizens of an increasingly interconnected world.

Assessment objectives

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specified content
    1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the common SL/HL syllabus
    2. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of current economic issues and data
    3. At HL only: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the higher level extension topics
  2. Demonstrate application and analysis of knowledge and understanding
    1. Apply economic concepts and theories to real-world situations
    2. Identify and interpret economic data
    3. Demonstrate the extent to which economic information is used effectively in particular contexts
    4. At HL only: Demonstrate application and analysis of the extension topics
  3. Demonstrate synthesis and evaluation
    1. Examine economic concepts and theories
    2. Use economic concepts and examples to construct and present an argument
    3. Discuss and evaluate economic information and theories
    4. At HL only: Demonstrate economic synthesis and evaluation of the extension topics
  4. Select, use and apply a variety of appropriate skills and techniques
    1. Produce well-structured written material, using appropriate economic terminology, within specified time limits
    2. Use correctly labelled diagrams to help explain economic concepts and theories
    3. Select, interpret and analyse appropriate extracts from the news media
    4. Interpret appropriate data sets
    5. At HL only: Use quantitative techniques to identify, explain and analyse economic relationships

From Diploma Programme Economics guide, International Baccalaureate, Cardiff, Wales, 2012

Psychology – Higher Level

group2Psychology is the systematic study of behaviour and mental processes.Psychology has its roots in both the natural and social sciences, leading to a variety of research designs and applications, and providing a unique approach to understanding modern society.

IB psychology examines the interaction of biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour, thereby adopting an integrative approach. Understanding how psychological knowledge is generated, developed and applied enables students to achieve a greater understanding of themselves and appreciate the diversity of human behaviour. The ethical concerns raised by the methodology and application of psychological research are key considerations in IB psychology.

The aims are to:

  • encourage the systematic and critical study of: human experience and behaviour; physical, economic and social environments; and the history and development of social and cultural institutions and social environments; and the history and development of social and cultural institutions
  • develop in the student the capacity to identify, to analyse critically and to evaluate theories, concepts and arguments about the nature and activities of the individual and society
  • enable the student to collect, describe and analyse data used in studies of society, to test hypotheses, and to interpret complex data and source material
  • promote the appreciation of the way in which learning is relevant to both the culture in which the student lives, and the culture of other societies
  • develop an awareness in the student that human attitudes and beliefs are widely diverse and that the study of society requires an appreciation of such diversity
  • enable the student to recognize that the content and methodologies of the subjects in group 3 are contestable and that their   study requires the toleration of uncertainty
  • develop an awareness of how psychological research can be applied for the benefit of human beings
  • ensure that ethical practices are upheld in psychological inquiry
  • develop an understanding of the biological, cognitive and sociocultural influences on human behaviour
  • develop an understanding of alternative explanations of behaviour
  • understand and use diverse methods of psychological inquiry.

Psychology and theory of knowledge

Students of group 3 subjects study individuals and societies. More commonly, these subjects are collectively known as the human sciences or social sciences. In essence, group 3 subjects explore the interactions between humans and their environment in time, space and place.

As with other areas of knowledge, there is a variety of ways of gaining knowledge in group 3 subjects. Archival evidence, data collection, experimentation and observation, and inductive and deductive reasoning can all be used to help explain patterns of behaviour and lead to knowledge claims. Students in group 3 subjects are required to evaluate these knowledge claims by exploring knowledge issues such as validity, reliability, credibility, certainty, and individual as well as cultural perspectives.

The relationship between group 3 subjects and theory of knowledge is of crucial importance and fundamental to the Diploma Programme. Having followed a course of study in group 3, students should be able to critically reflect on the various ways of knowing and on the methods used in human sciences, and in so doing become “inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people” (IB mission statement).

Questions related to theory of knowledge activities that a psychology student might consider during the course include the following.

  • To what extent are the methods of the natural sciences applicable in the human sciences?
  • Are the findings of the natural sciences as reliable as those of the human sciences?
  • To what extent can empathy, intuition and feeling be legitimate ways of knowing in the human sciences?
  • Are there human qualities or behaviours that will remain beyond the scope of the human sciences?
  • To what extent can information in the human sciences be quantified?
  • Do knowledge claims in the human sciences imply ethical responsibilities?
  • To what extent do the knowledge claims of the social sciences apply across different historical periods and cultures?
  • Does psychological research ever prove anything? Why do we say that results only indicate or suggest?
  • How are ethics involved in the study of psychology? When and how do ethical standards change?
  • Noam Chomsky has written, “ … we will always learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology.” Would you agree?

Psychology and the International Dimension

IB psychology takes a holistic approach that fosters intercultural understanding and respect. In the core of the IB psychology course, the biological level of analysis demonstrates what all humans share, whereas the cognitive and sociocultural levels of analysis reveal the immense diversity of influences that produce human behaviour and mental processes. Cultural diversity is explored and students are encouraged to develop empathy for the feelings, needs and lives of others within and outside their own culture. This empathy contributes to an international understanding.

 Assessment objectives

  1. Knowledge and comprehension of specified content
    • Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of key terms and concepts in psychology
    • Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of psychological research methods
    • Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of a range of appropriately identified psychological theories and research studies
    • Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of the biological, cognitive and sociocultural levels of analysis
    • Demonstrate knowledge and comprehension of one option at SL or two options at HL
  2. Application and analysis
    • Demonstrate an ability to use examples of psychological research and psychological concepts to formulate an argument in response to a specific question
    • At HL only, analyse qualitative psychological research in terms of methodological, reflexive and ethical issues involved in research
  3. Synthesis and evaluation
    • Evaluate psychological theories and empirical studies
    • Discuss how biological, cognitive and sociocultural levels of analysis can be used to explain behaviour
    • Evaluate research methods used to investigate behaviour
  4. Selection and use of skills appropriate to psychology
    • Demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge and skills required for experimental design, data collection and presentation, data analysis and interpretation
    • At HL only, analyse data using an appropriate inferential statistical test
    • Write an organized response

From Diploma Programme Psychology guide, International Baccalaureate, Cardiff, Wales, 2009

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