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International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme: Liberation or suffocation?

Dickson, AnisahORCID: 0000-0003-4063-4457 (2019) International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme: Liberation or suffocation? Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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While an increasing number of schools worldwide are offering the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme (MYP), at least 10% of Australian schools that offer the MYP have recently chosen to discontinue it. The reasons why schools terminate the program are not well understood, however. To address this research gap, I examined the benefits, opportunities, challenges and limitations of teaching and learning the MYP at three public and private Australian schools that have discontinued this programme. Using a qualitative case study design, I interviewed 17 participants: four principals and/or deputies, three former MYP Coordinators (one from each school) and 10 teachers. While the small sample is not generalizable, the findings provide unique insight that can guide schools on whether to adopt and sustain the MYP. Analysis identified the following benefits of teaching the MYP: more opportunities for international professional development and interdisciplinary teaching; and more accountability and standardisation within the curriculum and assessments. Teaching challenges included: organisational complications with aligning the MYP with the Australian national curriculum; reduced teaching time; limited leadership support; difficulties with promoting inquiry-based teaching; and assessing with two varying grading formats. Benefits of learning the MYP were: increased inquiry-based learning opportunities; exposure to holistic learning through the development of students’ academic and social skills; and a healthier balance between core and elective learning areas. The challenges for students learning mostly stemmed from operational, systems-level limitations, and confusing MYP jargon and grading styles. While participants identified many benefits and opportunities of the MYP for teaching and learning, the participating schools chose to discontinue the MYP because the organizational challenges that they faced greatly outweighed the positives. Recommendations for action on the part of the IB and school leaders are suggested.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Perry, Laura and Ledger, Susan
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