Researcher's Reflective Space (RRS)

  • Setting up the Researcher's Reflective Space (RRS)

    Student reflection in the extended essay is critical. Effective reflection shows how the student engages in an intellectual and personal process.  It also documents how the student has engaged as a learner as the student completes the essay.  IB considers this to be a central component of a successful research process because it supports student learning, thinking and critical analysis throughout the research process and helps to stimulate discussions between the student and supervisor.


    The nature of the RRS

    The RRS is a personal learning environment that can be either a physical or virtual support tool. It is a space in which the student can record reflections on what the student is reading, writing and thinking. The use of the RRS will help the student to prepare for the reflection sessions with their supervisor.  The RRS should include:

    • the student reflections
    • responds to objects, such as photos, newspaper clippings, twitter feeds, blogs, etc.
    • responds to prompts and questions that may arise in the students’ subject areas, TOK classes or other aspects of the Diploma Program
    • record emerging questions that can be discussed with the student supervisor or can help with the student research.


    The idea of the RRS is not new and many students already keep research journals in the planning, researching and writing phases of their work on the extended essay. The RRS will provide benefits in terms of the time management of the student workload and will help focus and organize the extended essay.


    The RRS will support and document the engagement in the planning and decision-making process of writing the EE. The RRS helps to develop critical and evaluative thinking skills and is a planning tool that helps to scaffold the development of learning skills and understandings that occur throughout the research process. Additionally, the RRS tracks the student work as it relates to the development of an argument. The supervisor will be able to more effectively authenticate the student thoughts as they develop and organize their essay. The RRS will make the entire supervision process more meaningful and will help them to understand what the student is trying to communicate in their essay.


    The information recorded in the RRS will form the basis for the essay, and will help the student with writing the Reflections on planning and progress form (RPPF). Students are expected to share excerpts from the RRS in discussions with their supervisor. Using these reflections as a point of reference in their supervision sessions, students will be able to:

    • demonstrate their planning
    • discuss what they are learning
    • evaluate their progress.
    • Students can use the RRS to prepare for their reflection sessions with their supervisors.




    Reflection session


    The first reflection session

    Students are encouraged to include in their RRS examples of initial topic exploration, possible sources and methods, preliminary research questions and their personal reactions to the issues.

    In attending their first reflection session with their supervisor, students can use notes made in the RRS as the basis for discussion as well as to demonstrate the progress students have made in the research process.

    The interim reflection session

    As their RRS develops, students can demonstrate the progress of their thinking, the development of their argument and raise any questions they may have with their supervisor.

    At this stage the RRS may include reactions to readings, progress in the timeline for completion of the extended essay, a possible outline of arguments, challenges encountered, and the strategies used to overcome them.

    The final reflection session—viva voce

    During the viva voce, which takes place at the completion of the extended essay process, the RRS can form the basis for discussion about the process of completing the essay. Students can show what they have learned about the topic, the research process followed, their own learning, as well as outlining new questions they have uncovered. Most importantly, during the viva voce the RRS may help to highlight the personal significance of the work to the student and ultimately contribute to the supervisor's report.




    • The IB considers the development of the RRS an essential element of good reflective practice as it will help the student to not only support the extended essay process but also to build skills which transcend the task itself and prepare the student for university study and beyond.
    • A well-used RRS will aid the reflection sessions students have with their supervisor, as elements of it can be used to stimulate and inform discussion. This will help students to move towards a more evaluative understanding of the research process and the choices they make as part of this.
    • Finally, the RRS will contribute to a richer and more personally rewarding experience with the extended essay overall.


    Excerpt from the IB EE Guide (first exams 2018) explaining what the Researcher Reflection Space (RRS) is, the role it plays in the researching and writing the extended essay, and how students can use it to help prepare for the three reflection sessions with their supervisors.


    Resource:  Researcher's Reflection Space (RRS) examples