Approaches to Teaching and Learning in the new BM programme

DP modelThe Business Management programme guide for first examination in 2016, reflects the new emphasis in the Diploma Programme on approaches to teaching and learning, which has been adopted from the Middle Years Programme and is now core to the Diploma model. The BM programme guide includes the following statement, which explains the specific focus on content, concepts and context:

The five approaches to learning (developing thinking skills, social skills, communication skills, self-management skills and research skills) along with the six approaches to teaching (teaching that is inquiry-based, conceptually focused, contextualised, collaborative, differentiated and informed by assessment) encompass the key values and principles that underpin IB pedagogy.

It is clear that the IB wants to make its Mission statement, as represented by the Learner Profile attributes, more visible in the nature of its programmes, creating a distinctive offer for schools, students and parents. One key aspect of this is an increased emphasis on skills appropriate for lifelong learners. The philosophy is represented in the BM guide and it is worth including this verbatim, as it helps explain the major changes in the new programme:

Approaches to teaching and learning across the Diploma Programme refers to deliberate strategies, skills and attitudes which permeate the teaching and learning environment. These approaches and tools, intrinsically linked with the learner profile attributes, enhance student learning and assist student preparation for the Diploma Programme assessment and beyond. The aims of approaches to teaching and learning in the Diploma Programme are to:

  • empower teachers as teachers of learners as well as teachers of content
  • empower teachers to create clearer strategies for facilitating learning experiences in which students are more meaningfully engaged in structured inquiry and greater critical and creative thinking
  • promote both the aims of individual subjects (making them more than course aspirations) and linking previously isolated knowledge (concurrency of learning)
  • encourage students to develop an explicit variety of skills that will equip them to continue to be actively engaged in learning after they leave school, and to help them not only obtain university admission through better grades but also prepare for success during tertiary education and beyond
  • enhance further the coherence and relevance of the students’ Diploma Programme experience
  • allow schools to identify the distinctive nature of an IB Diploma Programme education, with its blend of idealism and practicality

In terms of the BM programme, by far the major change is the focus on the following six concepts:

  1. Change
  2. Culture
  3. Ethics
  4. Globalization
  5. Innovation
  6. Strategy

The inclusion of strategy as the 6th concept has removed the need to retain Unit 6 from the existing programme.

Untitled pictureImportant strategies for business management are conceptually focused teaching and contextualized teaching through the use of case studies and examples. The relationship between concepts, the contexts and content of the discipline of business management is illustrated with a triangular diagram. Concepts are anchored in the tools, techniques and theories of the subject and come alive through case studies and examples. Together, these help students to acquire a holistic and integrated understanding of business management.

The concepts are assessed in section C of paper 2 for both HL and SL, when students will be asked to examine two of the concepts through the focus of a case study, although the marks allocated to this section is relatively few. Examples of these concept questions are given in the Teacher Support Materials (TSM) on the OCC.

The obvious question that arise from the new guide and assessment, is whether the focus on concepts will influence teachers in the delivery of the programme. Would it be practical, for instance, to deliver the content through the concept lenses, rather than unit by unit?

  • Mark
    May 20, 2014

    My thoughts exactly Paul …will it be better to teach this via concepts or unit by unit. I suspect the easier option is unit by unit but the better option would be by concept. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like enough of the content has been removed and thus a concept based approach (which I think will be more interesting but also take more time in the classroom) becomes harder when time constraints are taken into account.

    The changes made to B&M are a nice move forward but in my opinion I believe the changes have not gone far enough in removing content and thereby encouraging a greater focus on CBL.

    Looking at Erickson’s IB paper on Concept Based Teaching and Learning he illustrates the changes from two dimensional instruction to three dimensional instruction. The changes to the B&M guide do not seem to lend themselves enough to his three dimensional instruction, even though they are clearly a move in that direction. Perhaps if we adapt Erickson’s model we could say that we’re at 2 1/2 dimensional instruction.

    The big question is going to be how will students be assessed. The concept based long responses are something I’m both looking forward to teaching and somewhat dreading. They require the teaching of another skillset (the business essay) and drawing together the various concepts. A higher order task, which is great, but it also requires good language skills and this will, I feel, disadvantage our EAL students.

    I am very pleased to see the HL IA remain and it certainly feels like the most three dimensional instruction we do. It remains my favourite part of the course and, as an ex-business person, the most realistic bit of work we do. It is also the part students most benefit from when they really engage with it. I do get the feeling though from what my students tell me is that it is more challenging in time and effort than IA’s they do in other subjects.

    • Paul Clark
      May 29, 2014

      I totally agree with your sentiments Mark. It is a missed opportunity for the assessment to reflect the philosophy. Without significant reward and incentive, it is unlikely that teachers will opt for the concept-based approach and will continue to teach unit by unit with a layer of CBL tacked on. This is unsurprising as the assessment of concepts is difficult; especially when the choice of case studies is one that must be left to the student, rather than controlled in the normal pre-seen sense, as in the current paper one for HL. It would be a fascinating experiment to teach through the concepts, but there is a risk that students would be left confused by a lack of perceived structure. Ironically, the present approach harks back to one of the earliest guides for the subject back in 1985, which represented the subject in the form of a cloud. I did not feel confident with that approach then and I think that teaching through concepts may still be too radical for most.

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