Friday, 11 January 2013

MYP - new learning and assessment design

The International Baccalaureate Organisation has been working on changing their 11-16 years Middle Years Programme (MYP). This is being done to ensure a better continuity for the three programmes - Primary Years (PYP), MYP and the Diploma Programme (DP - and also their Career Related Certificate, I assume).
The MYP has always involved a holistic learning approach and certainly has been criticized as a poor preparation for the DP.
Malcolm Nicolson, the IB's Head of MYP Development, describes the new MYP in the latest issue of International School Magazine (IS - ECIS magazine, Vol 15 Issue 2, published by John Catt Education). This is an interesting account since a key feature of current IB thinking is "conceptual understanding", and this is described in operation in one of the IB programmes.
"The result is an innovative, concept-based and appropriately assessed programme for 11-16 year olds" (p26). Students will be able to choose six of eight subject groups in the final two years and so can allow for some specialism.
Nicolson describes the new MYP assessment: how students "use their knowledge to address challenging questions in unfamiliar situations using conceptual understanding ...  The assessment design ... draws from the central importance of concept based learning."
The MYP will provide a number of set disciplinary and interdisciplinary prescribed concepts, the "understanding of which can be demonstrated and assessed".
Another interesting feature is the use of technology - on screen and not on books. A very definite rich media environment is sought and will be used for both stimulus material and for e-assessments - "paper versions are neither possible nor provided".
Nicolson describes this attempt also as diminishing the negative "backwash" effects of assessment on learning and that the e-assessments "set challenging questions on unfamiliar source material".
The Personal Project will be moderated in the fifth year of the programme (with some differences from those who use this programme in a true middle school).
This "new chapter" for the MYP is very welcome and I am really interested in the learning design aspects that this generates. Not just from the emphasis on conceptual understanding but also the way that technology is blended (more than blended - totally imposed) on the programme.

See also: IB Diploma changes

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