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Theory of Knowledge Presentation

Introduction to the Presentation
The internal component of the TOK assessment comes in the form of a presentation. They count for 1/3 of your overall Theory of Knowledge score and they will be assessed by the TOK staff at the school. The goal of this presentation is to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the knowledge issues through a topic that they find interesting. Each presentation can be a maximum of 10 minutes per student involved and groups are limited to no more than 2 students per group. While you will be given time in class to research, plan, develop, rehearse and deliver your presentations, you will be expected to do significant work outside of class. In order to maximize your performance on this component of the course, it is strongly recommended that you make yourself familiar with the assessment criteria and utilize the resources provided (see below).


General Procedure for Preparing for the TOK Presentation

1.Brainstorm Idea for Presentation and schedule initial meeting with TOK teacher

2. Initial Meeting with TOK teacher: Introduce and Review Presentation Planning Document
3. Progress Meeting with TOK Teacher: Submit the First Draft of Presentation Planning Document and Outline of Presentation
4. Develop Presentation Plan and revise Presentation Planning document.
5. Final Presentation Delivered and Final Completed Presentation Planning Document Submitted


Assessment Criteria


TOK Presentation Planning Form:

This needs to be completed in full,

printed and submitted to your TOK

teacher before you will be scheduled

for a presentation time. Make sure you fully develop your ideas in this document. Your teacher may decide that it is insufficient and make you resubmit.


Presentation Prep. Materials

Use the below diagram to conceptualize your presentation. Additionally use the resources below to help you in the preparation of your presentation; structure, format, tips for success, etc...















Breaking the task down into stages (From TOK 2015 Guide from the IBO)

When preparing the TOK presentation, it is suggested that students should consider the following steps.

Realizing the goal of the oral presentation

The goal of the presentation is to allow students to apply TOK thinking to a substantive, real-life situation. Doing so invites students to draw stronger connections between the course and the world that they inhabit.

Examining the assessment criteria

Students should carefully examine the assessment requirements and identify the transitions from one level to the next.

Understanding the focus of the TOK presentation

The presentation, like the essay, is a discussion of knowledge. It is imperative therefore that the real-life situation which the student chooses to base their presentation on is substantive and allows for effective exploration of a knowledge question raised by that situation. It is this knowledge question that is the primary focus of the presentation.


Choosing a real-life situation

The selection of a good real-life situation is the most fundamental and important decision when planning the presentation. The real-life situation must lend itself to the formulation of an appropriate knowledge question that can be explored in depth and be applied to other real-life situations.

Formulate a knowledge question

It is common for students to make a good selection for their real-life situation but then to arrive at a very superficial knowledge question. Sometimes the question the student identifies is not even a knowledge question at all. TOK teachers should take every opportunity over the course of the programme to get students to identify and clearly articulate the knowledge questions they see in examples in TOK. If students have a strong background in unpacking examples they will be in a much better position to identify and explore a good knowledge question in the presentation. It is very important that there is a clear connection between the real-life situation and the knowledge question, and that students are able to clearly articulate that link.

Exploring the knowledge question

A good presentation will analyse different perspectives in relation to the knowledge question. This analysis necessarily involves the use of examples and reasoned arguments; not mere personal opinion.

Connecting to other real-life situations

It is crucial that students are made aware of the role that the exploration of the knowledge question plays in leading the presentation to more universal considerations of thinking. The TOK presentation provides students with an opportunity to focus on the thinking process as it applies in a number of contexts, emphasizing the need for the presentation to primarily focus on the knowledge question rather than the real-life situation. Students are required to show how the knowledge question which forms the basis of the presentation can be applied to other real-life questions (apart from the original real-life situation that triggered the presentation).


Tips for preparing the presentation

Teachers should give consideration to the following advice on TOK presentations.

  • A limit should be imposed on the amount of text used in PowerPoint presentations.

  • Teachers should provide students with strategies to overcome anxiety associated with public speaking.

  • Students should be provided with numerous opportunities to present in front of their peers prior to the TOK presentation.

  • Students need to be guided in working within the time allocated for the presentation.

  • Time should be set aside after each presentation for class discussion and peer feedback.

  • Filming and archiving presentations will provide exemplars for discussion.


Knowledge Questions should be central to your presentation

Knowledge questions are questions about knowledge. They can apply to any aspect of knowledge and may refer to the acquisition, production, shaping, classification, status, and acceptance or rejection of knowledge. Knowledge questions range from the extremely general (“Can a fact exist without a context?”, “What constitutes good evidence?”) to the specific (“How can we distinguish between valid and invalid deductive arguments?”, “What should the role of emotion be in the justification of ethical decisions?”). Both extremes are appropriate focuses for TOK discussions and both can and should be explored in a TOK course. However, not all knowledge questions are equally appropriate for assessment purposes.

THE OFFICIAL IB DEFINITION (as framed by nothingnerdy):


KNOWLEDGE Question: an open-ended question which is about knowledge, stated in terms of ToK vocabulary and precise in the relationships between ToK concepts.

KNOWLEDGE QUESTIONS EXAMPLES IB shows you how to think of KIs

KNOWLEDGE Words/Vocabularly: 
It may also a good idea to examine which kinds of knowledge words may be applicable to your topic. Is it something we know about or just believe? Can we be certain or sure What justification do we have for this certainty? 

You should be aware that simply including the words ‘bias’ or ‘limitations’ in your presentation does not mean that you are exploring these knowledge questions. To explore them you need to point out how exactly bias is working here, why exactly it is a problem, you need to assess whether there are any ways to limit this problem of bias and, if we can’t, how serious this problem of bias is overall. 

Bias: What possible biases and motivations does the person responsible for producing a source of information have? Are personal interests involved? Is there a conflict of interests between a person’s role in the issue and the benefit to that person? What does a person stand to gain by acceptance of his ideas? Is this bias evident in the choice
of language used? Is the vocabulary selected because of its connotations to appeal to emotions, prejudices and biases? How may this create problems? Is there any way around it? If the information has not come to you first hand, what about the biases of the various stages in the chain before the information reaches you (is their bias in the results that Google tends to turn up)? What about your own personal biases? 

Limitations: Most obviously this works in scientific studies where you can consider the limitations of sample size, the number of times an experiment has been replicated, how plausible the extrapolations are from that experiment to a general claim about ‘All things of class x’. However, you should also consider whether there aspects of this area of knowledge which it is impossible to know? Are these things impossible to observe or measure because “at the moment” we don’t have the instruments or access to the facts? 

Uncertainties: What uncertainties are involved here? What evidence is there to justify one point of view as opposed to another? Is it reliable, perceptual, statistical, reasonable or just a matter of opinion? Are there any ambiguities in the language used to claim or justify something? 

Reasoning: What kind of reasoning is involved in justifying the various points of view: deductive or inductive? Is the logic involved valid, reliable, based on empirical evidence or is it an appeal to emotions? 

Subjectivity: What elements of subjectivity are involved? are? Are various points of view affected by individuals’ beliefs or experience? Is it possible to be completely objective with regard to this issue?


Sample Presentations from the IBO
Watch the below sample presentations in the DVD at the back of your Guide to TOK Assessment and see the comments from the Examiner Report to help you improve your presentation

1. Does modern science take responsibility for its moral and ethical implications?

2. Living in an international boarding house: How do we accommodate difference across cultural backgrounds?

3. Honor Killing: Nothing Honorable About it

4. Darwinism vs. Creationism

5. Human Trafficking: How does tainted knowledge affect human trafficking?

6. Death Penalty

7. The Use of Biofuels

8. Instincts

9. Can we be sure if a serial killer is made or born?


How to Structure your TOK Presentation

Here are some general guidelines about how to structure your presentation. Please remember that this is just a guide and that your actual presentation may be quite different depending on your topic, format or personal presentation style.

Each presentation should have two clear stages: 

  • An introduction, briefly describing the real-life situation and linking it to one or more relevant knowledge issue

  • Detailed exploration of the knowledge issue(s) raised by the issue, the exact nature of the issue, why there is a problem, what people might say to argue against you, how you might respond and how successful your response is – all of this must be clearly linked back to the chosen situation and the knowledge issues raised by that situation


  • briefly state what the presentation is about, give an overview of the real life situation you have chosen to look at: do not go to great lengths describing the techniques or the people involved;

  • it is usually a good idea to have a clear title that is a question which refers to a knowledge issue – e.g. ‘How certain can we be that …’ or ‘How justified is …’ or ‘What are the problems created by bias in …’;

  • clearly state why your issue is significant;

  • you might briefly introduce the problems of knowledge, the Areas of Knowledge, the Ways of Knowing and the knowledge words (truth, certainty, belief, etc) that you will be covering in your presentation (although be careful that this is only really brief because too much outline at the start can lead to very boring presentations;

  • you might also briefly outline the different points of view or perspectives that can be taken on this issue and that you will be exploring in your presentation.


 You have two main choices – structure by perspective or structure by knowledge issue 
Structure by different perspective 

  • depending on the topic it can be a good idea to spend the development section of your presentation exploring in detail each perspective on the issue. To do this you should take each perspective in turn and consider:

  • the details about that perspective and the evidence some people have for believing it,

  • a possible attack on that perspective arguing that it is not valid

  • the possible responses to these attacks and how successful those responses are;

  • if you are working in a group it can be very effective if each member of the group takes on a different perspective and argues against the other members of the group. Make sure that you discuss what factors have caused each member to have the perspective that they do.

Structure by knowledge questions: 

  • alternatively, if structuring your presentation by different perspectives will not work for your topic, you can structure it by exploring in detailthe different TOK issues raised by the topic. To do this you should take each problem / issue in turn and give:

  • an explanation of the issue and exactly what the problem is,

  • a counterclaim that argues that the issue isn’t really a problem,

  • the possible responses to this counterclaim and how successful those responses are ;

  • if you are working in a group it can be effective to have one member of the group present a given problem / knowledge issue and another member argue against them attempting to prove why this is not really an issue at all. Make sure that you discuss what factors have caused each member to have the perspective that they do.

· explain your own perspective on the issue; 
· examine how this is similar to / different from the perspectives discussed earlier; 
· explore the factors that have caused you to have the perspective that you do; 
· consider the implications that we might draw from this presentation / the various perspectives including your own that you have covered.

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