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Intended and Unintended Outcomes of Offering the IBDP

By Susie Belal
Intended and Unintended Outcomes of Offering the IBDP

The International Baccalaureate (IB) mission is to help develop skills, attitudes, and knowledge that enable students to contribute towards creating a better and more peaceful world: intercultural understanding and respect, a rigorous and challenging academic program, and compassionate, active, lifelong learners. These are all words used by the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) to describe its mission. The IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) has an international appeal and is recognized by universities worldwide.
The outcomes of a program such as the IBDP have not been studied sufficiently due to a lack of empirical evidence. This case study offers insights into the outcomes of offering the IBDP at an international school in Egypt. Although case study results are not generalizable, the findings nevertheless offer valuable insights into the intended and unintended outcomes of offering the IBDP.
This case study involved a document analysis of IBDP literature; interviews with administrators, students, and alumni; and a focus group with teachers. It also included a tracer study of matriculation data for graduates who participated in the IBDP in comparison to students who did not. Triangulation of the data gathered from all three methods, as well as all the stakeholder perspectives, added credibility.
It was found that the outcomes of offering the IBDP depended on various factors, including the style of implementation, teacher interpretation of the curriculum, and choices students made during the program. The administrators, teachers, students, and alumni shared intended outcomes, which included university preparedness, enhanced writing skills, and perceived advantage for university admissions. The results of the study indicate that offering the IBDP broadened most students’ worldviews. It helped students by exposing them to a range of subjects and by developing their research skills. In addition, offering the IBDP helped to attract students to the school.
The most frequently stated unintended outcomes of participating in the IBDP were students earning college credit, as well as developing time management and organizational skills. Other unintended outcomes indicated were the stressful and elite nature of the program.
Engagement with the diverse local community was not one of the perceived main outcomes of offering the IBDP at the school and is not found to be unique to the IBDP experience. The diversity of the student body was perceived as an integral factor for helping students develop a wider worldview. The tracer study results show that three times as many IBDP graduates were enrolled in the top 50 universities worldwide as compared to non-IBDP graduates.
The findings of this study have implications for educational leaders, such as the need for a diverse student body in order to help develop wider worldview in students. There are also implications for the IBO in that the outcomes of the IBDP are dependent on the school, teacher, and student. For example, the outcomes of creativity, action, and service (CAS) are dependent on students’ choices of project. In addition, there are implications for educators as they teach course content while trying to implement the ideological aims of the IBO.
These idealistic aims are contradictory to the reality of most schools where the IBDP is offered in which Western-educated international teachers are preferred hires, and where cultural and social capital help gain entrance. Furthermore, the branding the school gains by offering the IBDP is significant.

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