How to Structure a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Presentation

The following Theory of Knowledge (TOK) presentation structure has been designed very carefully. (It’s taken about 2 years of conversations!) It’s easy for you to follow and ticks all the boxes. It tells you how many slides to have (eight), what text should go on each slide and what you should talk about while each slide is up. A clear structure like this is essential because it helps the audience follow what you’re saying. It also keeps you from wasting time, both during your presentation and in your preparation phase. (This is also done for the TOK Essay, here).

There are a few things I need to go over before we get into the slides.

The Development Section

When you get into the Development section (where the knowledge question is explored and analysed with reference to the AOKs and WOKs), you’ll see that we use a Claim, Counterclaim, Mini-Conclusion structure. We do this (claim, counterclaim, mini-conclusion) for each of your developments (AOKs or WOKs), so we do it 3 times in total.

Here’s an example, for one of your developments:

-Your claim might be that all art is ethical and you show this using some theory (evidence) from the course.

-Your counterclaim is a problem (a limitation) with your claim, or an opposing idea in the same perspective. It might be that art can be viewed in a different way, which would show it to be unethical. You show this using (as evidence) an example from your own life experience or knowledge referenced material or material studied in some other theory from the course.

-And then, in the mini-conclusion, you basically have to find a way to draw together the two opposing sides. You have to somehow synthesise these two insights to arrive at a more insightful understanding or some kind of summary. So you might say that art can be both ethical and unethical at the same time, depending on the perspective taken and then explain how that might be true. So the MC is a possible conclusion to your KQ (Knowledge Question).

In the final conclusion of the presentation you will try to combine (draw together/synthesise) the insights of this mini-conclusion as well as the other ones (from the 2 other development sections) to show a really sophisticated/developed answer to your KQ.

Using Evidence

Use evidence for each of your claims and your counterclaims. It will make your talk much more compelling.

Evidence can be:

-Examples of from the course or from your research. For example, stories of real scientific experiments or how society responded to a certain piece of art.

-Personal examples. Specific and realistic examples from your own life experiences are highly valued in this course. So you might tell us about something that you did in IB Biology class, or when you suspected a classmate of cheating.

Now let’s go through the structure of your presentation, slide by slide. (The suggested timings in green are assuming you’re in a group of two.)

The TOK Essay Structure 

Slide 1: Title Page (1 minute)

Text on this slide:
-Title of your presentation.
-Your group members’ names

What to say:
-Explain what you thought about the real life situation (RLS) when you first encountered it.
-Explain why it’s significant to you.

Slide 2: Decontextualization (1 minute)

Text on this slide:
-Some of the thoughts or questions you had about the real life situation. Start explaining the situation in a ToK sort of way –using some of the key terms from the course.

What to say:
-Explain a few of the things we can know about the RLS and how we know it. For example, our senses may provide some insights, while emotion provides other ones.
-Explain that there may be limits to what can be known about your RLS.

Slide 3: Knowledge Question (1 minute)

Text on this slide:
-Write down your KQ
-List the AOKs and/or WOKs you will use to explore your KQ and how they are related to your KQ

What to say:
-Mention 2 KQs that you considered and the one you are investigating.
-Explain how this KQ will help you to explain the RLS.
-For each of your AOKs/WOKs, preview how they can help to answer your KQ.
-Explain any assumptions you’ve made about your KQ (if any).
-Explain any key terms that need to be explained in order for us to understand your KQ.

Slide 4: Development #1 (3.5 minutes)

On the slide:
-Very briefly, state your claim for WOK/AOK #1 (see development example above). State how it is supported by evidence (i.e. a scientific theory).
-Very briefly, state your counterclaim for WOK/AOK #1 (i.e. an opposing idea in the same AOK/WOK). State how it is supported by evidence.
-State your mini-conclusion.

What to say:
-Explain the claim and how it is supported by evidence. Make it clear how it would answer the KQ.
-Explain the counterclaim and how it is supported by evidence. Make it clear how it would answer the KQ in a different way than your claim did.
-Explain your conclusion and how it ties together the claim and counterclaim.

Slide 5: Development #2 (3.5 minutes)

On your slide:
-Very briefly, state your claim for WOK/AOK #2. State how it is supported by evidence.
-Very briefly, state your counterclaim for WOK/AOK #2. State how it is supported by evidence.
-State your mini-conclusion.

What to say:
-Explain the claim and how it is supported by evidence. Make it clear how it would answer the KQ.
-Explain the counterclaim and how it is supported by evidence. Make it clear how it would answer the KQ in a different way than your claim did.
-Explain your conclusion and how it ties together the claim and counterclaim.

Slide 6: Development #3 (3.5 minutes)

On your slide:
-Very briefly, state your claim for WOK/AOK #3. State how it is supported by evidence.
-Very briefly, state your counterclaim for WOK/AOK #3. State how it is supported by evidence.
-State your mini-conclusion.

What to say:
-Explain the claim and how it is supported by evidence. Make it clear how it would answer the KQ.
-Explain the counterclaim and how it is supported by evidence. Make it clear how it would answer the KQ in a different way than your claim did.
-Explain your conclusion and how it ties together the claim and counterclaim.

Slide 7: Conclusion (3 minutes)

On your slide:
-Write down your conclusion.
-Write down a possible flaw in your conclusion.

What to say:
-Explain your conclusion.
-Explain how this conclusion is supported by the insights you’ve drawn along the way (in your mini-conclusions).
-Explain the possible weakness or a flaw in your conclusion.
-Explain an example of someone from a different perspective (a different gender, age, time, or culture) who might disagree with this conclusion.

Slide 8: Link back to the RLS (3.5 minutes)

On your slide:
-Write 2 interesting ways that your conclusion applies to the RLS.
-Write down two other real life situations (which are perhaps related). If possible provide pictures for these two other situations, so they can be quickly understood. One of these should be personal to you (something one of you encountered) and another which is more of a shared experience.

What to say:
-Clarify how your conclusion applies to the RLS.
-Explain how this conclusion can help to explain 2 other real life situations you have on your slide.

Of course you are not required to follow this structure (unless your teacher says otherwise), but it is recommended. Everything in this structure is there for a very good reason.

Footer

I also recommend that every slide from #3 onward should have your KQ written on the bottom of it, as a footer. This will make it easier for the audience to relate your various insights to the knowledge question.

Signposting

Finally, to help to make sure that the person marking you gives you full credit, it’s useful to do what we call signposting. This means, using the exact key words the marker was trained to look for. Professionals do this all the time. Their use of specialist language signals to their colleagues that they know what they’re talking about. So try to speak like a TOK teacher basically. In this case, your marker will respond favourably if you use a fair amount of terminology you learned in the course. For example, use the term perspective. So you might say, “from the perspective of a historian..” rather than saying, “Historians believe that…” –just to get that word in there.

That’s it!

Thanks for reading and good luck with everything!

Tim WoodsHow to Structure a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) Presentation
  • RichardG

    Looks helpful Tim. Lots of signposts to important content and evaluation. I am assuming this is directed at groups of two.

    With reference to slides 4/5/6 you might want to differentiate between “evidence” and mechanisms or procedural orientations more specifically. A particular claim or approach does not necessarily have to be supported by evidence. It can be the result of cultural or other experiential proclivities. Acknowledging your justification for supporting or acknowledging the impact /bias/operation of this mechanism on the justification process can stand in for evidence etc.
    RichardG

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  • Raymond Bascal

    Amazing information. Thank you so much! I found this extremely useful.

  • Harish

    you are amazing.

  • Lolla

    This is all I could ask for thanks sooooo much!!! <3

  • Saqifa Walli

    Hello Mr.Woods.
    First of all, this website is great, it really helped me structure my presentation!
    My teacher is away, and I just had a question I hoped to get in there – where does the secondary KI fit in? Is that something we need to explore in a presentation? Or are we just looking at one KI with 3 developments like you have explained?

    • You can really do it either way. I’d always recommend having one major KI and then developing that one. But some students (and their teachers) take the approach of breaking the one main KI down into 3 smaller KI’s. So ‘how reliable are ways of knowing’ would break down into ‘how reliable is emotion,’ ‘how reliable is reason,’ etc. And those would be the different development sections. Good luck in your work!

  • Amelia

    Thank you sooo much for these information!! It is very important to me.

  • Amelia

    And I have a question, what do you think about language? How can it affect our life? How can it affects humanity? Thank you so much 😀

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  • British ToK student

    Thank you, this page is really helpful.
    I just wanted to know whether the title (and therefore, presumably, the main focus of the presentation) should be based on the real life situation or on the main knowledge issue?

    • I’d recommend focusing it on the KI.

  • yavuz

    Can anyone explain what are AOK and WOK?

    • Areas of Knowledge and Ways of Knowing. A google search could explain these in more detail for you.

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  • bunnyybeast

    Area of Knowledge
    Way of Knowing

  • Michał Horbaczewski

    Hello! Could you please tell me what do you think about this KI: “What are the dangers of practicing permissive parenting according to the two following areas of knowledge: psychology and ethics?”. Is it good?

    • Unfortunately, I can’t answer questions like that here as I don’t know whether you’re being assessed on your ability to do that on your own. Sorry.

  • 2 would be sufficient, considering your time constraint. And I recommend you organize your perspective around different AOK’s or WOK’s, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Just keep the marking rubric in mind as you develop your presentation. Good luck

  • This method is just a suggestion. Feel free to do it your own way. Actually, technically, a slide show of any kind isn’t required. 99% of students do it this way, but (if you’re extremely bold) you could do it as a drama or something else. So definitely don’t feel constrained by this method Tara. All the best and thanks.

  • Abishek Chandran

    Thank you so much…..it was very useful

  • Thanks Naomi. :-)! Happy I could help.

  • XES

    thanks man keep uploading ib stuff

  • Pomparan Opung Badiri Silitong

    great…..It helps me to prepare my students to do their TOK presentation…

  • Student

    Did I understand correctly that you don’t refer back to the real life situation during the development? Only at the beginning and at the very end?

    • That’s right. Just at the beginning and end. You can refer to it during your developments if you want to though (i.e. very briefly, as part of a mini-conclusion after each of your development sections).

  • Just at the end generally. I would say that the developments really are your analysis in this case. After you’ve done those you can hopefully see your RLS in a new light.

  • Thanks Sumeet. That’s just due to time constraints. In the end, it’s up to you. You might want to take more time with some of those parts if you think it will help you.

  • Thanks!

  • Malaysia IB Struggler

    Our KQ talks about how authorities rely on reasoning in finding truth. Do you think having two big TOK component such as reasoning and finding truth are too hard to tackle for us? What do you suggest?

    • I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “finding truth.” That does sound hard to tackle to me.

  • Maria

    Hello, for the development #1, do we have to speak about one AOK and one WOK, of just one AOK OR one WOK. Also, the claim, is it a knowledge claim about the world? Or about knowledge?

  • Poopie523

    Really helpful!!!

  • Alex A

    Hey! Very useful guide with some critical tips you should use in your TOK presentation. Thank you in advance :)!

    • Alex A

      Me and my partner have got an A for our presentation, fully followed by this guide. Thank you so much Mr. Woods!

      • Awesome! Thanks for letting me know. Good work!

  • Mo

    This is so helpful

  • Hash D

    Great information. Really helped create my tok presentation easily! I appreciate the fact that you put this up online for free so that thousands of IB students would benefit from it 🙂

  • Virginia

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! We recently began working on TOK presentations and I was completely lost but this guide is absolutely amazing and makes it so much clearer. 🙂

    • Thanks Virginia! That made my day! 🙂

  • You do have that option. However, I would recommend you consider just doing three developments and taking your time to go a lot deeper with them. There is a trend toward ToK teachers favouring fewer developments, but more depth. Good luck with it!

  • I would recommend you adjust that so that your question is focused more on knowledge in general. You could still use that RLS. I don’t want to give you too much guidance here, on your specific case. I’ll leave that to your teacher. Good luck!

  • Hi, thanks. Yes, it’s not easy doing this alone because you’ll want to cover, but your time is so limited. I don’t have an exact minute-by-minute break down, but you’ll want to just do 2 developments and cut the time on each of the rest of the sections by about half. Good luck!

  • Mariana

    Thank you so much for this structure! We followed it exactly as you laid out in our TOK presentation and our teacher gave us 9/10!!

    • Best news I’ve heard all day! Thanks! 🙂 Good work!

  • John M. Marquez

    Can you tell me what me and my partner must have in common and must have different in our TOK presentation?

    • I wouldn’t think about it like that necessarily. Just make sure that you (together) cover all of the material and satisfy all of the rubric requirements. You don’t have to each do everything, but do make sure to share time between you so each person has a chance to show their thinking.

  • Thanks for the idea Uzma. I’ll put that on my list.

  • Thank you!!! 🙂

  • Hi, I would do all of the same slides, but perhaps just limit it to 2 developments. And cut the times in half. All the best and watch your timings. Presentations with 1 person have to be super-fast. You’ll have a lot to cover on your own. Good luck!

  • Hi Susanna. No, you don’t need RLE’s in every development point, but you do need evidence in each of these. Generally, I suggest that your KQ has a WOK in it and then you have 2 or 3 Developments, and each of those is a different AOK. That’s is a great way to do it, if your PT will let you. Thanks and good luck!

  • Each of your developments should include a knowledge claim (+evidence), a counter claim (+evidence) and a mini-conclusion. So the developments are focused on KC’s, but they respond to the main KQ.

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  • Hi Monisha. Yes, that’s right. Students in most schools usually work in pairs (and I recommend that), so my timings are for a group of 2.

  • You’re very welcome!

  • You’re most welcome. Thanks for saying that. 🙂

  • Sorry, I’m not sure what you mean by that.

  • Hannes Larsson

    Thank you so much! This webpage was my saviour when making my TOK presentation the night before it was due!

    • Happy to help 😉 I hope it went okay.

  • Indipop

    what do we put into our mini conclusion?

    • Basically, the mini-conclusion (just like conclusions in general) is about summing up the two (or more) sides to the argument that you’ve just presented. But for higher marks, make you should avoid being redundant. Instead of merely summing up, explain which side of the argument seems stronger or more justified or something about the limits of what seems to be knowable in this area. And, as always, keep your focus on the more interesting parts of the discussion.

  • The presentation style is by far the most popular and it’s what I recommend because it’s very straight-forward to plan. However, the debate style also has tremendous potential to help you go very deep into the topic.

  • Awesome news. Congrats!

  • Hi Katie, Nope those are just suggestions to help you make sure you’re spending more of your time on the most important things.

  • Christoph

    Well done, a different, but interesting overview I found is on the following Blog:

    http://www.quickslide-powerpoint.com/en/blog/golden-thread-how-well-structured-presentation-helps-you-hold-your-audience

    I hope it will enrich this Blog

    Chris

  • Hi Rashi, technically no it doesn’t. But I still recommend that you normally try to give every C a CC, just to show balance and development. Again, this template is just a method that works. If you find another approach that feels more appropriate for you then you should use that. And let me know if yours is better than mine! 🙂

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  • Arda Baytaroglu

    Hello Mr. Woods. My presentation is about Euthanasia, I use Ethics and Religion as AOK and Emotion as WOK. But can you give me an example about how to connect Emotion and Religion to each other. If you can tell me immediately, I would be appreciated. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Arda, Well I can think of a lot of examples. The best example would be something that is perhaps personal to you. Do you consider yourself religious? If so, have you ever felt that your emotions have given you insights into truths within your religion?

  • Hi Leonardo. Obviously, with three people you have more time, but you don’t necessarily need to change the number of developments. These days we’re recommending that students go deeper and deeper with developments (i.e. is normally more, well I guess “fewer is more” is the grammatically correct way to say that.). Anyway, I would consider sticking with the exact same format and just taking more time with each development. Many groups of two just do 2 developments these days.

  • Hi Minna,

    Yes, a claim is basically a partial answer to the KQ. If your KQ is “To what extent is intuition a reliable source of knowledge in arts and natural sciences?” your first CLAIM might be that intuition is mostly reliable in arts.

  • Hi there. That’s a big question. I would definitely start by talking to your teacher. Let me know if there’s anything specific I can do to help, but your teacher should be able to guide you in the right direction.

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