The Internal Assessment in IB Economics is really a challenging task. It is not done by rote learning; each one is unique. As it involves reading an economic event in the news, this can be difficult enough just to understand it, as journalists love to use jargon and complex sentences.
A good way to prepare yourself is simply to read economic commentary in newspapers. You can find them easily enough: look for “opinion” or “comment” in the business/economy section. Here you will find the author is trying to make a point about what is significant or needing fixing. In order to do that, the author will refer to some news that is reported somewhere else in the newspaper, and explain some economic theory. Your job is essentially to do the same.
You can also try to find old student commentaries, or simply use the example that you had to mark in the assignment. In our case the only difference compared to a news media commentary is that you have to “spell out” the details of how the actual theory works, including a diagram, and use all economic terminology – not business or other jargon.
So you start by simply browsing through a reputable news site. USA and UK media are popular, but you are encouraged to use other publications around the world; English versions mean that you don’t have to translate it for the marker. Look in the economy section and find an interesting article.
This is where you bring your skill: do you recognize the theory/concepts that is being discussed? Since most journalists don’t want to bore their audience with spelling out relevant economic theory, this gives you the chance to show what you know. That’s why you don’t want to pick an article that you can’t explain the theory behind the article.
You are not supposed to summarise or accept the author’s understanding. Think of it this way: you are to explain – to the non-economic person – how economic theory explains some part of what the article is claiming. You don’t have discuss everything and you shouldn’t discuss anything beyond the article. Here’s what to do:
- Prepare in rough:
- on your article, underline/highlight specific information relating to economic theory
- Translate into useful economic terms; you should be define the key terms
- draw a diagram of the model using the information in the article
- Explain the relevant theory
- explain the how the model explains (or predicts) what happened (or will happen)
- explain how factors (whether mentioned or not) impact the extent of outcomes.
- Discuss the importance, effectiveness or likelihood of the event. That is, you are to offer some kind of useful opinion that involves valuing Use the information in the article to decide which “approach”:
- Has the article described the cause-effects as you would expect? If not, then explain what is wrong in the article (interpretation or (lacking) facts?)
- Or do you have evidence against the theory? Explain what is expected and how the article shows that there are “limitations” of the theory.
- Or what are the short-term vs. long term consequences? Which is more “important”?
- Or are there solutions, based upon theory, you would recommend (or criticize)?
- Or how does this event impact stakeholders differently? To what extent? How important is each impact?
- See your official handout for further suggestions
In summary, you are simply to make an opinion about how economic theory works in the real world. In a sense, its a research based extended response question like a Paper One exam question – only this time you are using real “data” from an article. You’ll be quite impressed with what you can do, once you’ve done it right!