Teaching approaches to learning (ATL) using Alloys

Encouraging students to view learning as something that they “do for themselves in a proactive way, rather than as a covert event that happens to them in reaction to teaching” (Zimmerman 2000: 65) is an important part of developing their approach to learning (ATL) skills. In the DP, as well as in the Primary Years Programme (PYP) and Middle Years Programme (MYP), the ATL’s are grouped into five categories.



  • Thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Social skills
  • Self management skills
  • Research skills

Approach to teaching ATL’s

This approach to teaching uses section 4.5 of the IB Chemistry Guide and relates to the chemistry of alloys. It focuses on assessing a students knowledge and understanding of alloys and their communication skills and research skills. Because research skills were being taught I saw this as an excellent opportunity for me to co-teach and co-assess with our librarian. On the marked paper you will see two sets on annotations, one set from me and one set from Bonnie (the librarian).

Assessment Task

Student information

4.5 Alloys

This task assesses your knowledge and understanding of alloys and your communication and research skills.

According to the National Science Education Standards (2006) “In a world filled with the products of scientific inquiry, scientific literacy has become a necessity for everyone. Everyone needs to use scientific information to make choices that arise every day. Scientific literacy also is of increasing importance in the workplace. More and more jobs demand advanced skills, requiring that people be able to learn, reason, think creatively, make decisions, and solve problems. An understanding of science and the processes of science contributes in an essential way to these skills.”

Alloys contain more than one metal and have enhanced properties. Choose an alloy that interests you and write an article for the scientifically literate members of the public.

The article needs to communicate your knowledge and understanding of the following

  1. Description of the chemical structure and bonding of the alloy.
  2. Explain how a specific enhanced property(s) of the alloy arises from its structure and bonding. The focus here should be on how the alloy has advanced properties and uses when compared with the component metals.
  3. Discuss why you choose this alloy to research? Why is this alloy significant?
  4. Demonstrate personal significance, interest or curiosity evidenced by a sense of enthusiasm / authenticity / interest / curiosity in the way you set the paper in a relevant real life context, or the reason why you settled on writing about this particular alloy.

You will be consulting secondary sources because they provide appropriate information for this type of paper (but don’t let that stop you from finding primary sources). It is important that you evaluate their reliability since these sources get their information from somewhere else. Only reliable secondary sources should be cited in your article. Choose two sources used in your article and evaluate them using Who, What, When, Where & Why. (Note: Sources that you consult for background information but do not use in your paper do not need to be acknowledged in the article).

Think about how you will communicate your understanding. Does the introduction outline the topic, and its significance (why is it worth knowing about this alloy). This is the hook that will keep people reading. Each paragraph needs to introduce the main point, have evidence to supports the point and have a closing or transition. The conclusion should leave the reader with something to think about. This could be the implication of knowing this? The so what?

The article should be a maximum of two A4 sides (excluding the works cited list but excluding the source evaluation), and double-spaced. The sources need to be acknowledged using MLA formatting.

The 5 W’s of source evaluation

  1. Who is the author? Do the author/s have an educational background or professional experience in the area OR is the organization run by qualified experts?
  2. What is this source about? What specific information does it provide?
  3. When was this source produced / last updated? Is the information is sufficiently current?
  4. Where does this source get its information?
  5. Why have you chosen to you this source?

Command terms

Describe – Give a detailed account

Explain – The detailed account includes the reasons or causes.

Discuss – Offer a balanced review that is supported by appropriate evidence

Demonstrate – Make clear by reasoning or evidence, illustrating with examples or practical application / experience.

Evaluate – Weigh up the strengths and limitations

Assessment Criteria 

Criterion 1 2 – 3 4 – 5 6 – 7
Exploration Little or no attempt is made to set the article into context or explain the significance of the alloy.


Some attempt is made to set the article into context.

There is some attempt to explain the significance of the alloy.

The context of the article is clearly demonstrated. The significance of the alloy is clear. The context of the article is clearly demonstrated. The chemical significance of the alloy is clear. The article shows evidence of personal interest, curiosity or independent thinking.
Knowledge and understanding The article demonstrates no knowledge or understanding. The article demonstrates some knowledge but little understanding. The essay demonstrates an adequate knowledge and some understanding. The essay demonstrates a good knowledge and understanding of the composition, structure, physical properties of the alloy and how the properties of the component metals are enhanced by alloy formation.
Communication: Structure and clarity There is no attempt to present the ideas in a logical and coherent manner. There is a limited attempt to present ideas in a logical and coherent manner. There is some attempt to present the ideas in a logical and coherent manner, but this is only partially successful. Ideas are presented clearly and in a logical and coherent manner.
Communication: Use of scientific language The language used is inaccurate and unclear.

Science terms and concepts are not used correctly.

Scientific language used to present the information and discussion is not always clear.

The use of scientific terms and concepts is only partially accurate.

Scientific language is for the most part used clearly to present the information and discussion.

The use of terms and concepts is accurate, although there may be minor lapses.

Scientific language is used clearly to present the information and discussion.

Scientific terms and concepts are used accurately, with skill and understanding.

Communication: Presentation The presentation does not meet the standard because no sources have been consulted, acknowledged or evaluated or the article exceeds two pages. The paper does not meet academic honesty standards There are gaps and omissions in referencing, which means that some sources of information are not traceable. The paper does not meet the IB standard for academic honesty in research and writing. There is an appropriately presented works cited list and in-text citations, although there may be some lapses. There is an appropriately presented works cited list and in-text citations. The article does not exceed two pages.

Sample student paper  4.5 ALLLOY Paper

Sample of marked work Marked student work 1


International Baccalaureate Online Curriculum Center (2015). Approaches to teaching and learning. International

Baccalaureate Organization. Web.

United States. National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment;

National Research Council. National Science Education standards.1996. Print.

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