1.3 Setting up for success

1.3.3 The RRS and the RPPF

Before you embark on the journey of your extended essay, it is important to think about how you will document your planning and your experiences. Reflection is a key step to learning in general, and the extended essay writing process is no exception. You are encouraged to keep a reflection journal or a Researcher's Reflection Space (RRS), which will aid your planning and your reflection. You are required to submit a Reflections on Planning and Progress Form (RPPF), which will be read and considered by your examiner before assessing your level of engagement for Criterion E: Engagement. It is important to distinguish between the RRS and the RPPF.


Does not contribute towards your assessment.

Required by the IB.

Useful for yourself, your supervisor and your school. Aids your thinking process, demonstrates engagement with the research and writing processes. Supports your and your supervisor's comments on the RPPF. Acts as a supporting record for the authenticity of your work.

Considered by the examiner in determining marks for Criterion E: Engagement. Acts as a supporting record for the authenticity of your work. 
Make as many entries as you want on a rolling basis. Entries may be written into a rough notebook, an online blog, a series documents in digital folders, etc. 

You submit 3 entries (see below). Note: the total word count of all of the entries should be under 500 words, entered in an official IB document. Your supervisor adds comments too, which are also considered in the assessment.

What it might include:

  • an aide mémoire, a diary / journal
  • mind maps,
  • to-do lists, to-read lists
  • notes from meetings or interviews
  • a logbook of observations,
  • a collection of articles,
  • a list of questions and thoughts, to-find-outs
  • a rolling list of sources

What it should include:

  1. First reflection: initial ideas and how you plan to undertake your research.
  2. Interim reflection: comments on and an evaluation of the process so far. Where are you going next? What do you still need to do?  
  3. Viva voce: a reflection on the research and the writing processes, and your end product. 
  4. Supervisor's comments.

Note: students writing World Studies extended essays are encouraged to include a selection of pages from the RRS in an appendix; supervisors are encouraged to refer to these pages in their comments on the RPPF. They help demonstrate Engagement.

Slide show - The RRS and the RPPF


  1. What differences and similarities do you notice when comparing and contrasting the required RPPF and the reflection journal in the table above? 
  2. Would you find it useful to write a reflection journal? Why do you think you will or will not write one? 

EE Sample 6.1 RPPF


Student's comments


Children’s art is not well known as a source of inspiration for artists, since it is often not seen as art. However the CoBrA artists recognized the unique aspects of children’s art. I know that they used it as a source inspiration for their own work, because I learned about this during a visit to the CoBrA Museum in Amstelveen. In this light, I wonder how children’s art inspired the CoBrA artists. I also have an aunt who is a child psychologist, and I know that she uses children’s drawings as a means of getting to know her patients. I wonder what she would think of these works of art by, Noiret, Appel and Corneille. I have spoken with my supervisor, who is my visual arts teacher. She has suggested that I go to the CoBrA Museum again, visit the Stedelijk Museum as well, do some simple online research, and try to formulate a good research question for the next session. (161 words)


I have narrowed down my research question, with the help of my supervisor. At first I wanted to study CoBrA works as a backlash to the WWII, inspired by Paul Klee and his view of WWI. I wanted to do a pyscho-analysis of their works of art, as a modern-day psychologist would analyse children’s drawings. My supervisor’s advice, to ‘keep it simple’, led me to focus more on the works of one artist, Paul Klee. She also told me that there’s a special exhibition going on there now on his work specifically. I’ve already seen some of his works online through a simple Google search, and I’m fascinated by his use of simple abstractions, light and colour. I’m going to focus on the exact aspects of children’s art that inspired him, such as the importance of memory, imagination and life, and show how his art inspired other artists during the CoBrA movement. My aunt has helped me acquire some typical drawings made by children, and we’ve had conversations about what typifies children’s style. I will go back to the CoBrA Museum to find evidence of this style in Klee’s artwork this weekend. (192 words)

(viva voce)

After I visited the Paul Klee exhibition in Amstelveen, the essay seemed to write itself. It was difficult to narrow down my research to a few paintings, because there were so many great ones. At first I went a little overboard on Klee, and my supervisor reminded me to connect him to later CoBrA artists. I found that it was easy to comment on Karel Appel though, because it’s so easy to see how he was inspired by Klee, and how Klee was inspired by children’s art. I also found it easier to write the essay once I knew that I would focus on certain aspects of children’s art that were typical of their drawings, such as spontaneity, freedom, colours, style and angles. Once I broke down my EE into smaller chunks of research and writing, I found it easier to write. (142 words)

Teacher's comments

I think ----- did a great job on her extended essay. At first I had to steer her in the right direction. I was worried that after she talked to her aunt about children’s art, that this essay would turn into an essay on child psychology. I knew she had been to the CoBrA Museum. In class we had talked about the CoBrA movement and Karel Appel. I could tell she was enthusiastic, but her understanding of the era was rather simplistic and reductive at first. I’m happy she went back to the museum again and found the Paul Klee exhibition so useful for her essay. Her knowledge and understanding of how children’s art inspired Paul Klee grew through discussion and research. Inserting a few works of art into her essay helped her keep focused. In the end I felt she was consistently relevant in answering her research question. It was a pleasure working with her. 


  • Notice from the sample RPPF that the student justifies the marks that he would have given himself, if he were to assess himself according to the criteria. This is not required, but it is good practice.
  • Notice that your supervisor fills in part of the RPPF. This may influence the examiner’s marks for Criterion E. A reflection journal could help your supervisor write positive comments on the RPPF, and in turn influence your EE grade for the better.