pbaumgarten.com

Internal assessment

The Internal Assessment for Computer Science is an opportunity for you to showcase your algorithmic and technical prowess at developing software intended to solve a legitimate, real world problem for someone.

Approximately 30 hours of class time will be devoted to the Internal Assessment. Beyond that it is expected you will contribute at least the same amount of your own time towards the project.

You are graded according to the complexity and ingenuity demonstrated through your programming.

Your product may be developed using any programming language you are familiar with. That said, you do need to justify your choice of language used. This must be done in relation to why it was the best fit for the scenario/problem you are tackling.

The documentation is loosely based on the software development life cycle, there are 5 criteria assessed, and a maximum overall word count of 2000 applies.

Like other IAs, you receive formative feedback on a formal draft, and then submit a final for IB grading. After the final grading the IBO will moderate a selection of 5 of the IA’s submitted.

The assessed deliverables for this IA can be summarized as follows:

Criterion Deliverable Word count Marks
Criterion A 1. Client and scenario, 2. Rationale, 3. Success criteria 250 words, 250 words, n/a 6 marks
Criterion B 4. Design diagrams, 5. Record of tasks n/a, n/a 6 marks
Criterion C 6. Product development (complexity & ingenuity of programming techniques) 1000 words 12 marks
Criterion D 7. Video demonstrating success criteria, 8. Extensibility of the product (marked through items 4, 6, and 7) 5-7 minutes, n/a 4 marks
Criterion E 9. Evaluation, 10. Recommendations for improvement 250 words, 250 words 6 marks

Choice of project

Find a client:

Find a meaningful project needed by the client:

Some ideas if you are completely stuck:

Most importantly, find a meaningful, tangible project!

Once you have found a client, please fill out the Client nomination form and return it to me.


IB Moderator comment / advice: Contrived tasks and clients were routinely seen in the weaker pieces submitted, where the student decides on a product and then finds a client to match.**Some examples of trivial products include: Java programs that mainly focus on GUI and not on actual functionality, Java programs that consist of one class only, Java programs consisting of a Greenfoot template with only two methods overwritten, rudimentary versions of freely available games (like Sudoku), Access databases that contain just one or two tables or non-relational tables, websites that are template-based (Wordpress, Wix or Weebly) or that have minimal content, basic Excel projects, Scratch projects that had not been properly designed.

From the IB (May 2015 subject report): Contrived tasks and clients were routinely seen in the weaker pieces submitted, where the student decides on a product and then finds a client to match.

From the IB (May 2018 subject report): Some examples of trivial products include; Java programs that mainly focus on the GUI rather than functionality, OOP programs that consist of one class only, Java programs that are based on a Greenfoot or HScode template with only a few methods overwritten, rudimentary versions of freely available games (like Sudoku, Battleship or chess), Access databases that contain just one or two tables or tables that are not linked, websites that are template-based (WordPress, Wix or Weebly) or that have minimal content, basic Excel projects, Scratch or Snap projects that have not been properly designed.

Deliverables

There are 5 criteria for a total of 10 deliverable components in this assessment.

Criterion Deliverable Form of submission Word counts
A Description of scenario Extended writing 175-250
A Rationale for the proposed product Extended writing 175-250
A Success criteria Bullet points n/a
B Record of tasks Compulsory template n/a
B Design overview Design document with screen wireframes/mockups, flowcharts, DFDs, UMLs, data dictionaries, etc n/aa
C Developing of the product Extended writing with screenshot evidence and justification of techniques ~1000
D Functioning product demonstration Video 4-7 minutes 175-250
D Extensibility of product Assessed through the “design overview” and “developing of the product” n/a
E Evaluation Extended writing 175-250
E Recommendations for improvements Extended writing 175-250
. Appendix Additional information as relevant n/a

The sections labelled “Extended writing” all contribute to a combined total 2000 word limit.


From the IB (subject guide, p76): Students must produce a solution that includes supporting documentation up to a maximum of 2,000 words. If the word limit is exceeded, the teacher’s assessment of the documentation must be based on the first 2,000 words. Work that falls significantly beneath the stated word count is unlikely to fully meet the stated requirements of the task and is likely to receive low marks.

Identification requirements

The IB has made changes with respect to anonymity of student work. Students should not include any identifying information within their IA work such as their name, name of school or name of teacher. Students are to only identify themselves using their 6 character IB code abc123.

Use of personal information

Given the nature of the project, students must take into account ethical problems and implications for undertaking research and developing the solution, for example, ensuring the confidentiality and security of data. Wherever possible, original data should be used or be collected by the student.

The following guidelines come from the IB and must be applied.

Criterion A

Deliverable 1: The scenario

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
A Description of scenario Extended writing 175-250

The following key questions should be considered

Before reaching a decision for the proposed product the student and/or computer science teacher must determine:

The rationale and success criteria should be developed in consultation with their client. The student needs to remember they are producing software for a client/customer not for themselves. It is important that the software produced is what the customer needs, not what the student wants. Therefore it is important that the criteria that will satisfy the client is thoroughly understood. To that end, students should aim to conduct two interviews with the client in the planning phase.


IB Moderator comment / advice: Too many students decided on a product ("I want to make a website/program a game") and then found a client to match. Some schools adopted a standard approach where the teacher was the client, setting a task for the student. These approaches should be discouraged. Contrived tasks and clients were routinely seen in the weaker pieces submitted.

IB Moderator comment / advice: The scenario: It is important to concentrate on the problem your client is facing, and how does your client currently solve the problem, and the reason the current solution is inadequate. It is highly recommended to include detailed evidence of consultation with the client (as indicated in the subject report) in an appendix that is referenced from Criterion A. However, in addition to this the candidate should also include evidence in Criterion A itself. For example, "we discussed possible solutions…", "The client responded by …", "we agreed on the main goals" etc. so that it is clear to the moderator that genuine consultation has taken place with a real client.

Deliverable 2: Rationale for the proposed solution

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
A Rationale for the proposed product Extended writing 175-250

The rationale behind the choice of the proposed product must be in extended writing, with reference to the student's consultations with the client and/or adviser, justifying how the choice of this particular product is an effective solution.

The rationale behind the choice of technology stack has been provided. Your choice of technology stack must be relevant to your project, not simply because it is what you have the most experience with.

Some past examples that were not fully thought through:

(refer subject guide, p82)

Deliverable 3: Success criteria

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
A Success criteria for product Bullet points  

The success criteria (that are evaluated in criterion E) should be listed in the form of bullet points.

Ensure you are specific! Avoid generic success criteria such as:

If the student is the client, they must have an adviser who can review the success criteria and provide the validation of the product.


IB Moderator comment / advice: Too many students had generic success criteria – these criteria must be specific and testable. The Criteria for Success are essential to the project and must be explicitly addressed in the test plan and in the evaluation (and preferably also in the video).

Checklist

Scenario

Rationale

Success criteria

Examples that were not fully thought through:

Assessment criteria

Marks Description
0 The response does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1-2 An appropriate scenario for investigation for an identified client is stated. The rationale for choosing the proposed product is identified. The criteria for evaluating the success of the product are generally inappropriate.
3-4 An appropriate scenario for investigation for an identified client, providing evidence of consultation, is stated. The rationale for choosing the proposed product is partially explained and includes some appropriate criteria for evaluating the success of the product.
5-6 An appropriate scenario for investigation for an identified client, providing evidence of consultation, is described. The rationale for choosing the proposed product is justified and includes a range of appropriate criteria for evaluating the success of the product.

Criterion B

Deliverable 4: Record of tasks

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
B Record of tasks Record of tasks form  

A Record of tasks form in the zip file must be used for the product proposed in criterion A.

You must use the official IB template provided.

The record of tasks form addresses:


From the IB (Subject report, May 2018): … many do not address the implementation stage, which should describe the client’s use of the solution for its intended purpose. The occasional Record of Tasks form was preoccupied with tasks related to the writing of the criteria, which is not its purpose.

Deliverable 5: Design overview

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
B Design overview Design overview document with, for example, screenshots, flowcharts/pseudocode, tables and diagrams  

The information added must be in the following style(s):

If the student includes extended writing, the words will be included in the word count and the student will self-penalize if the total number of words in the documentation exceeds 2000 (subject guide, p81) see FAQ for more detail

The design overview should include:

For your screen mockups, while it is not mandatory (you can use paper & pencil), I highly recommend using a tool such as one of the following:

IB Moderator comment / advice (Subject report, May 2018): The actual design overview should include many design components, for example:

Checklist

Record of tasks

Design overview

Test plan (treated as part of design overview)

Assessment criteria

Marks Description
0 The response does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1-2 The record of tasks and the design overview, including an outline test plan, are limited. From this information it is difficult to see how the product was developed.
3-4 The record of tasks and the design overview, including an outline test plan, are partially complete. They provide a basic understanding of how the product was developed.
5-6 The record of tasks and the design overview, including an outline test plan, are detailed and complete. From this information it is clear how the product was developed.

Criterion C

Deliverable 6: Developing the product

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
C Developing the product Extended writing (with screen shot evidence included). Justification of techniques used 500-1000

The information in the development documentation must provide a detailed account, using extended writing and other appropriate information, to explain the following.

Any reference material such as templates, program code, applets or other materials that have been used or modified must be acknowledged in this criterion. The code used in the product can be included in the appendix.

From the IB (subject guide): It is essential that whatever form the solution takes it ensures the student can explicitly demonstrate and document his or her algorithmic thinking skills.

Ingenuity and complexity

In studying the assessment criteria for Criterion C, you will observe it refers to your ingenuity and complexity. How do I assess these?

In assessing ingenuity, I make an on-balance assessment of:

In assessing complexity, I make an on-balance assessment of:

You are not expected to use all the above items. They would not all be relevant to your scenario. They are a guide to items that may indicate complexity in your programming skill.

Credit for these items is only awarded where the accompanying written work documents the use of the technique. No credit is awarded for techniques used but not described.

Checklist

Assessment criteria

Marks Description
0 The response does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1-4 The use of techniques demonstrates a low level of complexity and ingenuity or does not address the scenario identified in criterion A. It is characterized by limited use of existing tools. There is no explanation of why the techniques are used or how they are adequate for the task. Sources are used but are not identified.
5-8 The use of techniques demonstrates a moderate level of complexity and ingenuity in addressing the scenario identified in criterion A. It is characterized by some appropriate use of existing tools. There is some attempt to explain the techniques used and why they are adequate for the task. All sources are identified.
9-12 The use of techniques demonstrates a high level of complexity and ingenuity in addressing the scenario identified in criterion A. It is characterized by the appropriate use of existing tools. The techniques are adequate for the task and their use is explained. All sources are identified.

The table makes reference to "complexity and ingenuity". What happens when a student performs highly in one, but not in the other? The following is a supplemental table produced by the IB to illustrate the balance struck:

    Complexity    
    High Moderate Low
Ingenuity High 9-12 7-10 5-8
Moderate 7-10 5-8 3-6  
Low 5-8 3-6 1-4  

Within the range is decided by:

Criterion D

Deliverable 7: Functionality of the product (VIDEO)

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
D The functioning product Video (4-7 minutes)  

The student must use the video to demonstrate the product functioning. Ensure your demonstration includes a variety of situations (normal case, extraordinary case).

The following points should be observed

IB Moderator comment / advice: The video should be about 5 minutes and should only show the proper working of the final version of the solution. The structure of the video should be scripted by the candidate. Candidates are advised to test their screencasts on different media players and devices to ensure the playback is correct.For example, the video could show the testing of the implemented solution following the test plan from criterion B. Successful videos showed comprehensive evidence of the solution's functionality with lots of data, but were edited to avoid viewing tedious data entry.

Deliverable 8: Extensibility of the product

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
D Extensibility of product Assessed through "design overview" and "developing the product"  

The student should design the product so that it can be maintained by another party and/or be further developed. Therefore the design of the product should include:

IB Moderator comment / advice: Extensibility is evidenced by a detailed design in criterion B, by a detailed description of the creation process in criterion C and, in case of a programming project, by a properly structured and annotated code listing in an appendix.

Checklist

Functionality (assessed through the video)

NOT RELEVANT TO THE VIDEO BUT IS RELEVANT TO ENSURING YOUR PRODUCT WILL WORK ON THE IB MARKERS COMPUTER

Extensibility (assessed through the detail and clarity provided in Criterion B and C)

Assessment criteria

Marks Description
0 The response does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1-2 The video shows that the product functions partially. Some expansion and modification of the product is possible but difficult.
3-4 The video shows that the product functions well. Some expansion and modifications of the product are straightforward.

Criterion E

Deliverable 9: Evaluation of the product

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
E Evaluating the product Extended writing 175-250

The evaluation of the product should refer directly to the success criteria in criterion A, feedback from the client/adviser, as well as any other appropriate feedback obtained. Both the client and the student should provide evaluative feedback on each of the individual success criteria points.

Deliverable 10: Recommendations for the future development of the product

Criterion Document Method of submission Recommended word count
E Recommendations for improving the product Extended writing 175-250

The student will use the feedback and the evaluation of the specific performance criteria to recommend possible future developments to the product. These recommendations should explain the benefits of these developments.

IB Moderator comment / advice: For full marks in Criterion E evidence of client feedback must be included (in an appendix) and it must be discussed and referred to in the student's evaluation against the success criteria. Recommendations should be realistic in relation to the actual product – for example 'adding network capability' is not a realistic improvement for a low-level product. Recommendations for improvement should go beyond the success criteria that have not been met.

Checklist

Evaluation of product

Recommendations

Criterion E Overall

Assessment criteria

Marks Description
0 The response does not reach a standard described by the descriptors below.
1-2 There is a limited attempt to evaluate the product against the success criteria identified in criterion A. There is limited evidence of feedback from the client/adviser and any recommendations for further improvement are trivial or unrealistic.
3-4 The product is partially evaluated against the success criteria identified in criterion A including feedback from the client/adviser. Recommendations for further improvement of the product are largely realistic.
5-6 The product is fully evaluated against the success criteria identified in criterion A including feedback from the client/adviser. Recommendations for further improvement of the product are realistic.

Draft review

note “From the IB (subject guide): As part of the learning process, teachers can give advice to students on a first draft of the internally assessed work. This advice should be in terms of the way the work could be improved, but this first draft must not be heavily annotated or edited by the teacher. The next version handed to the teacher after the first draft must be the final one.

Final Submission

Step 1 - Get the template

The IB provides an offical template ZIP file that contains the file/folder structure your submission requires. Download this, and unzip the file to a folder on your computer.

Step 2 - Setup your folders & files

Your final file/folder structure should resemble the following

 |----> Documentation
 |      |----> Crit_A_Planning.pdf
 |      |----> Crit_B_Record_of_tasks.pdf
 |      |----> Crit_B_Design.pdf
 |      |----> Crit_C_Development.pdf
 |      |----> Crit_D_Functionality.mp4
 |      |----> Crit_E_Evaluation.pdf
 |      \----> Appendix.pdf (if required)
 |----> Product
 |      \----> All the program code and associated files
 \----> index.html (based on the template provided)

If you need to give the marker special instructions on how to execute your project (passwords etc), those will be added to the HTML cover sheet.

Please ensure your file/folder names are correct! It is not a good look for a Computer Science specialist to get basics such as filenames wrong.

Step 3 - Edit the HTML coverpage

In keeping with IB policy to keep the course work submission anonymous, a policy that was enacted after the HTML coverpage template was finalised, the following are guidelines have been issued:

<a href="https://www.mywebsite.com/">Link to online version of project</a><br>
<a href="/Product/index.html">Link to offline (local) version of project</a><br>

Step 4 - Prepare ZIP file

Step 5 - Submit to teacher

All done!

Exemplars

My students should speak to me to request access to some real life exemplar projects I have access to. Some are from my own former students, and others have been generously shared by a fellow teacher from another school, for me to use with my classes, on condition they are not further distributed or shared. Please express your appreciation to them for these files by respecting their wishes.

FAQ

What are the grade cut offs?

While there is never any guarantee what the cut offs will be in any given year, the past year data is available and informative.

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
2014 0% 20% 38% 53% 63% 75% 85%
2015 0% 20% 38% 53% 63% 75% 85%
2016 0% 18% 32% 47% 59% 71% 82%
2017 0% 18% 32% 47% 59% 71% 82%

Can I do group work for my IA?

The development of the solution must be undertaken by the student on an individual basis. Collaborative or group work may not be undertaken by students. (subject guide, p76)

Is there a difference between Standard and High Level?

No, the same assessment criteria are provided for SL and HL.

Does my project have to use the Option studied (such as OOP)?

In identifying a problem, students can select any topic that interests them. It does not have to be directly related to the specified themes in the syllabus or to the option studied. (subject guide, p79)

Use of personal information

Given the nature of the project, students must take into account ethical problems and implications for undertaking research and developing the solution, for example, ensuring the confidentiality and security of data. Wherever possible, original data should be used or be collected by the student.

The following guidelines come from the IB and must be applied.

Individual work and authenticity

The completion of the solution must be entirely the work of the individual student. Students should not be discouraged from showing individuality when completing the solution.

Students should be given a strict timetable and internal deadline for the submission of the rough draft of the solution; this should include access to the product and associated documentation.

Supervision by the teacher should be on an individual basis and the rough draft checked once only. Repeated submission, redrafting and remarking of the solution is not permitted. Where there is evidence of collaboration and where there are strong similarities in the appearance of the different solutions, the work should not be accepted in rough draft. The final draft should only be accepted if the teacher is convinced of its authenticity.

If teachers suspect that the student’s work is not individual or authentic and they have reasonable evidence, they should make the student rewrite his or her written report. If time does not permit this, teachers must not sign Form 4/ICCSCS and must submit the reasons for their suspicion under the heading “Relevant information”.

Sources

Students must acknowledge all of the secondary sources they have used in the solution in criterion C. These can include websites and any other published material. Students who fail to cite any one of the sources they have used will lose some of the marks available in criterion C. If students do not reference their work, they could be accused of malpractice.

Sources should be referred to in the text and a standard referencing format (title, author and date) should be used for bibliographies and footnotes. Students should ensure that their method of referencing is consistent throughout, that all relevant information is provided and that their system enables the reader to locate their original sources.

Use of appendices

Appendix/appendices can show, if appropriate, any additional information such as:

The appendix is not counted within the 2000 word limit.

The marker is not obligated to read any section of the appendices not referred to in the main text.

Moderators will not be expected to search the appendix to locate material nor will marks be awarded for material there.

How much assistance and guidance should the teacher give the students?

It is important that the solution is the student’s own work, although a first draft may be submitted and informal discussions between the teacher and student can occur.

What do you mean by a trivial product?

This refers to a product that could be created by somebody who has never attended a computer science class. Typical examples of trivial products include single page websites, flat-file databases, programming solutions consisting entirely of copied code.

Trivial products will result in the student losing marks in criterion C where the maximum mark for this type of product is likely to be 4. The student may also lose marks in the following criteria:

Other marks might be lost in other criteria and these will be evident at submission.

Can a student use templates and wizards?

No, if the product is based on a template or wizard that completely determines its structure and layout; then there is no original input from the student. For example, this may be copying a web-based template, an exemplar database provided with the software or significant blocks of code from an internet site.

However, if the student uses the template or wizard as a starting point in developing the product that is unrecognizable from it—that is, making substantial and appropriate changes—this may be permissible. For example, a student may use a website template, but has control over the structure and layout. In this situation, it is expected that appropriate techniques would be used to develop the product.

What happens if parts of the product do not work?

Marks may be lost in criterion C as the solution may be deemed to be inappropriate.

Where a major feature does not function as required, the student will probably lose two marks in criterion D. For minor parts of the product not working, the student will probably not be penalized in criterion D.

If no/limited success criteria have been achieved, Criterion E might be affected if there is nothing/little achieved to evaluate

What happens if not all of the product can be assessed using the required method of submission?

It is intended that the video of the product functioning will resolve this issue. However, if the product can still not be assessed IB Answers should be contacted at the earliest opportunity.

Where the product is hosted online and this is used as a mechanism, in addition to the video, to demonstrate it functioning, the student must not update the product from the date of submission until the end of the particular examination session (15 September for the May session and 15 March for the November session).

Is the student required or expected to provide a functional product that the moderator can execute, use and test on the moderator’s equipment?

The candidates are expected to include their product in their submission, as it is considered a subset of the solution. The candidates do not need to consider the hardware/software available to the moderator when creating their product (and to do so would go against the flexibility of choice intended by the redesigned course). For this reason the product is not required to function straight off of the Hard Disk Drive. It is sufficient for the school to include in the submission only the files and folders that are uniquely those of the candidate; the product at its most fundamental (and would work with the necessary hardware/software “off the shelf” as it were). Font, browser, software, hardware issues can be resolved by the IB if necessary (see below) and the school should not go out of their way to add extra elements to the product folder to help with the running of the product. In some cases the moderator will not be able to run the product; this is not immediately an issue and is why the video is required. All the marks for the IA are awarded (by the teacher and the moderator) against the written documentation and video, and therefore there is no mark penalty for failing to include the product. However if the product is not included the solution will be considered incomplete, from an administrative point of view, and the subject operations administrator at the IB office will contact the school requesting the missing product(s).

The moderator will check that something is in the product folder (to ensure the submission meets the requirements outlined in the guide) but will not immediately do anything with the product.

The product will need to run if necessary; by “necessary”, we mean if the moderator, principal moderator and/or the IB wants to see exactly what the candidate has made in order to gauge authenticity. If the moderator feels there is a contradiction between what is described in Sections A – C, and what is shown in the video (for example an elaborate and complex technique not referenced by the candidate), they will investigate the product to ascertain if it is genuinely the work of the candidate. If the moderator is unable to run the product, the moderator will contact the IB assessment centre who will escalate the situation and make arrangements for the work to reach someone who can execute the product. This will only occur when authenticity is in doubt, and the functioning of the product will have no bearing the marks awarded; instead it may affect the candidates overall Diploma after an investigation from the Academic Honesty department. If the authenticity of the work is not in doubt, it will not be necessary to run the product.

Source

What happens if there is no evidence of how the product was developed?

Zero marks are awarded in criterion C and possibly other criteria depending on the teacher’s comments. If the teacher is not sure the work is that of the student he or she should not sign Form 4/ICCSCS.  

Can the student make several products to satisfy the requirements for the solution?

No. Only one product must be submitted, although students may integrate more than one software type within it. Examples include a website that uses underlying data from a database or a website using applets developed in Java.

Does the product have to address a real problem?

Yes. The product must be real, current and able to be implemented.

No. Furthermore, clients and/or advisers can come from businesses or other sources outside of the school environment.

When is an annotation treated as contributing toward the word count?

If forms, tables, bullet points or footnotes are used for extended text (for example, for explanation, analysis and evaluation), thereby trying to exclude it from the word count, this text will be included in the word count”.

Bullet point list, numbered list, footnotes, captions, tables, titles, annotations are not included in the word count IF they contain short phrases or statements, as this is what they are meant for. If a candidate provides an extended writing in a table or a bullet point list (such as explanations, analysis), in anticipation to exclude it from the word count, then this text will be included in the word count.

In the (intentionally blurred) illustration, the red text with arrows will be counted toward the word count.