The IB Learner Profile Project (Fall 2011)

IB Theory of Knowledge 1   Classes – Fall 2011

By Sheila Gilligan

Curran Olson’s Learner Profile Hat


 From the IB learner profile booklet, located at

  • “The IB learner profile is the IB mission statement translated into a set of learning outcomes for the 21st century.”
  • “The learner profile provides a long-term vision of education. It is a set of ideals that can inspire, motivate and focus the work of schools and teachers, uniting them in a common purpose.”
  • “IB learners strive to be: inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced, reflective.”

Kourtney Meiss Uses Cans for the Learner Profile

What I admire personally about the IB learner profile is that it applies to the entire community of IB learners, including students of all ages and adults involved in IB education.  I believe that the profile provides an educational framework for the IB-for-all programme offered by Sturgis.  The IB learner profile challenges teachers to integrate the profile into classroom practices and assessment, as well as to embrace the role as models of “empathy, compassion and respect for others”. (IB learner profile booklet)

I see value in exposing students to the IB learner profile explicitly.  It is a tool that provides a model of life-long learning.  Moreover, the IB learner profile is foundational to the pursuit of international-mindedness.  The description of the profile emphasises a point that is a vital to my own educational beliefs. The IB learner profile is not an outline of the perfect student; rather, it’s a sketch of a set of attributes every person works on over of the natural course of life.  The IB learner profile is already implemented actively at Sturgis through the advisory program to students in all grades.

Some of Kourtney’s Choices of “Real People”

Theory of Knowledge 1 project

The TOK1 IB learner profile project was inspired by a reading from a Theory of Knowledge text by Bastian et al. (Pearson Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma, p. xiii. 2008.)

Grade 11 TOK students were asked to design and construct a three-dimensional model of the IB learner profile.  Students matched each IB learner profile attribute to a character; historical and contemporary figures were allowed, along with fictional characters and real people in students’ lives.  The project required visual representation of each attribute and written reasons why the student believed that the character was a strong attribute match.  Students who choose real people in their lives were required to ask for consent to be included, adding an ethics dimension to the project.

Natalie Panasci’s Learning Profile Cubes

By completing the project, the students would

  • explore the ideals of the IB programme early in Grade 11 as students begin their formal journey in the IB-for-All school model at Sturgis
  • articulate the IB learner profile attributes visually creatively and descriptively using language
  • connect the experiences of the self-as-a-knower (an essential concept in TOK) to the IB learner profile attributes

The Grade 11 students tackled the IB learner profile project enthusiastically, taking the opportunity for

Hayara Cardosa’s Learner Profile Cubes

individual expression.  All projects were impressive, demonstrating that students understood the aims of the IB learner profile.  Project models included delicately balanced mobiles, sculptures, surprise flip-up posters and cans (it’s true, Altoid cans!), photo and stacked cubes, dioramas, scrapbooks, puzzles, floating rubber duckies, and even one IB learner profile hat (yes, the IB learner profile may even be a fashion accessory)!  Some projects centered on a theme, eg, sport, Greek gods, and popular childhood persona.  Character choices included fellow students (hats off to you, who recognize the wonderful qualities of your peers), family members, teachers, and well-known and not-so-known figures from diverse fields.  The written defense for each attribute demonstrated thoughtful selection, and offered moving insight about students and chosen characters.

Curran Olson TOK Project

Take a moment to view one of the projects on display in the Sturgis East Reference Room and around the school.   Special thanks to the Sturgis Librarians for creating a display of the TOK projects near the stunning Main Street side stain-glass window in the reference room at Sturgis East.  Thanks to Mrs. Weeks, too, for taking time to interview several Grade 11 students about the TOK1 IB learner profile project.


Taylor Dean’s 3-D Poster

Read the IB mission statement at

Read more on the Nature of the IB learner profile at

View a video presentation on the helping to create a better, more peaceful world at

View a PowerPoint presentation on Develop real learners: who needs a learner profile? at

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