How To Do Well In Math Internal Assessment (Math IA)?
1) Select a suitable topic
Suitability is subjective to student’s ability. While many supervisors insist in students bringing university Mathematics concepts into the Math IA, that is only recommended if students understand what they are doing and able to explain convincingly of their application with understanding. There are many cases that even though supervisors approved of the topic but when students are stuck and unable to proceed, so is their supervisor. It is no fault of the supervisor to approve a topic that they have no profound knowledge as the responsibility lies on the students to finish the math IA. Supervisors are only supposed to provide an over aching feedback.
Most Math educators do not research on Math themselves, hence many are clueless how to guide students closely.
2) Math IA samples
Some students who are clueless may look up Math IA samples. In IB samples “rule of 72” is a common topic chosen by many students. From the start of 2014, this topic has been recommended for my students and many have chosen this as their Math IA topic. Possibly my students’ IAs have been selected for external moderation and markers see the interesting phenomenon and introduce this as a Math IA topic to their students. Now IB do not recommend this as a Math IA topic as too many people have chosen this as their Math IA topic.
But even if my student choose this as their Math IA topic, it can still be done as I’ve done further research and able to shift focus to include new content to customise to students’ ability and recommend how it can be applied to their needs.
Be careful in copying ideas or lifting chunks of work done by others to avoid plagiarism.
3) Writing Math IA
Many students are clueless in writing a Math IA. There is a simple format that I use to guide student. Every section of the work must be smoothly connected and explained either Mathematically or logically. Supervisors do not provide such skill.
4) AA versus AI & SL math versus HL math
There is no difference in AA (approaches and analysis) or AI (application and interpretation) when it comes to Math IA. Marking rubrics are the same for within SL or HL Math.
Students who do HL AI Math covers wider content but has lesser exposure to more variations of questions to practice. Based on their syllabus they may have more topics to choose from but by the time they need to choose their Math IA topic, usually they have not covered so many topics, so they may not have an edge over those who do HL AA math.
5) Rigor and marking rubrics
The marking rubrics only differs in the Math content for SL math versus HL math. Hence, some topics may be more suitable for SL than HL and vice versa. However, I train all my students with same rigor as though they are HL Math students when I guide them in completing the math IA. This will provide them good foundation to research and write a Math assignment in future.
6) Amount of time needed
It is not unexpected to use at least 100 hours to complete Math IA. Formatting needs many hours. My students are spoilt with choices i.e. they save a lot of time choosing Math IA topic that is close to their heart. Whenever they are stuck, close guidance (e.g. Hints) will be provided and enable them to connect the dots and hence able to write it confidently. Towards the end, student will review the whole write up with my help and make final adjustment to ensure all concerns raised by their supervisors are well taken care of and the work is able to score almost full marks for every criteria in the rubrics.
Expected score 16-19 out of 20. Usually a decent piece of work by student scores around 12-14.