IB Approaches to Learning

IB Approaches to learning (ATL)

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Through approaches to learning, students develop skills that have relevance across the curriculum that help them “learn how to learn”. Approaches to learning skills can be learned and taught, improved with practice and developed incrementally. They provide a solid foundation for learning independently and with others. ATL skills help students prepare for, and demonstrate learning through, meaningful assessment. They provide a common language that students and teachers can use to reflect on and articulate on the process of learning.

Approaches to learning are most powerful when teachers plan and students engage with them in connection with significant and relevant content knowledge in order to develop transferable understanding. All teachers in MYP schools are responsible for integrating and explicitly teaching ATL skills.

Developing student responsibility for ATL

Some of the key questions to be answered by students with respect to ATL skills include:

  • What are my present skills in this area and what evidence do I have of my development? 
  • What skills can I improve? 
  • What new skills can learn?

When specific ATL skills become an explicit focus for teaching and learning, students can begin to take responsibility for their own development. Over time, students can identify themselves and their competence in any learning strategy using terms like these:

  • Novice/ beginning – students are introduced to the skill and can watch others performing it (observation) 
  • Learner/ developing – students copy others who use the skill and use the skill with scaffolding and guidance (emulation) 
  • Practitioner/ using – students employ the skill confidently and effectively (demonstration) 
  • Expert/ sharing – students can show others how to use the skill and accurately assess how effectively the skill is used (self-regulation)

A concept-based curriculum that uses ATL skills effectively enables all students to become stronger, more self-regulated learners.

Information on these pages is from the MYP Subject Guides and the MYP Project Guide. International Baccalaureate Organization. 2014. Print.