Creativity, Action & Service (CAS)
What is CAS?
Creativity, Action & Service involves students in experiential learning through a range of artistic, sporting, physical and service activities.
- Creativity: arts and other experiences that involve creative thinking
- Action: physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the Diploma Program
- Service: an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student
For student development to occur, CAS should involve:
- Real, purposeful activities, with significant outcomes
- Personal challenge – tasks must extend the student and be achievable in scope
- Thoughtful consideration, such as planning, reviewing progress, report
- Reflection on outcomes and personal learning.
All students should be involved in CAS activities that they have initiated themselves, including in at least one project involving teamwork that integrates two or more of creativity, action and service, and is of significant duration. Work that is part of a student’s study of a diploma program subject, TOK or EE may NOT be counted towards CAS. Students must complete a minimum of 150 total hours of CAS over the course of their junior and senior years, with a reasonable balance between creativity, action and service.
What is NOT CAS?
CAS is not a points-scoring exercise. It should be an interesting variety of activities that you find intrinsically worthwhile and rewarding, and which are mutually beneficial to you and to your community. Generally, CAS is not taking place when you are in a passive rather than an active role. There should be interaction.
CAS is NOT:
- any class, activity or project that is already part of the Diploma Program
- an activity for personal reward, financial or benefit-in-kind
- simple, tedious and repetitive work
- a passive pursuit done purely for enjoyment (e.g. a rock concert)
- part of family or religious duty
- work experience that only benefits the student
- fundraising with no clearly defined end in sight
- an activity where there is no responsible adult on site to evaluate your performance
- activities that cause division amongst different groups in the community
CAS responsibilities of the student:
- Self-review at the beginning of their CAS experience and set personal goals for what you hope to achieve through your CAS program.
- Plan, do and reflect (plan activities, carry them out, and reflect on what you have learned).
- Undertake at least one interim review (set up in September-January of senior year) and a final review (set up in April-May of senior year) with your CAS advisor.
- Take part in a range of activities, including at least one project, some of which you have initiated yourself.
- Keep records of your activities and achievements, including a list of principals activities undertaken.
- Show evidence of achievement of the seven learning outcomes.
7 Learning Outcomes
As a result of their CAS experience as a whole, there should be evidence that students have:
- Increased their awareness of their own strengths and areas for growth
- Undertaken new challenges and developed new skills
- Planned and initiated activities
- Worked collaboratively with others
- Shown perseverance and commitment in their activities
- Engaged with issues of global importance
- Considered the ethical implications of their actions
Of any activity, it is appropriate to ask the following questions: what did I plan to do? what did I do? what were the outcomes, for me, the team I was working with, and others?
Reflection can be written (journal), oral (presenting their activities to peers, parents or others), physical (scrapbooks, photo essays, videos/DVDs or weblogs), in portfolio format (containing different types of reflections), or private (student reflects individually).
Students should consider the following as part of the CAS reflection for each activity:
- How did you feel before, during and after the activity?
- What did you perceive?
- What did you think about the activity?
- What did the activity mean to you?
- What was the value of the activity?
- What did you learn from the activity and how this learning might apply more widely?
Other questions to ask would be:
- How successful was I in achieving my goals? What difficulties did I encounter and how did I overcome them?
- What did I learn about myself and others through this activity/project? What abilities, attitudes and values have I developed?
- Did anyone help me to think about my learning during this activity/project? If so, who helped and how did they help?
- How did this activity/project benefit others?
- Did I maintain full attendance? How many sessions have I missed? Was I punctual? How would I summarize my effort and commitment?
- What might I do differently next time to improve?
- How can I apply what I have learned in other life situations?
- What have I learned about development issues that are evident in our local community? How do I feel about this? What are my views on these issues? What have I done to address these issues?
Example of poor reflection
“Today I got to the nursing home at 2:00. Talked to some ladies. Passed out popcorn at the movie. Went home at 4:00. When you volunteer at the nursing home, the residents really make you feel appreciated. It makes it all worthwhile.”
This student reflecting on their social service missed the point. This student was surrounded by human drama. On every side were loneliness, love, struggle, joy, death, dignity, injustice, need and concern. There were more than a dozen health-related, trades-related, professional-related careers to observe and experiment with. There were people with wisdom to draw upon and pains to ease. From their observations and reflections, these students experienced nothing.
Examples of good reflections
Writing poetry (Creativity) - “For the past two years I have kept a journal of poetry and stream of consciousness pieces that I have written. It now contains about 30 works. I write in it rather sporadically, either as ideas come to me that I feel would make good poems, or I feel the need to vent my emotion on paper. I have shown this journal to certain teachers and friends, and I have submitted several of them to Mosaic. For me this journal is a way to stay sane, sort of catharsis for my soul. By writing poetry about situations that I am in I can think through my options and how best to deal with them. Similarly, it helps me to understand better what I am feeling. And if someone else can benefit from my writing through Mosaic, all the better. After all, art is not only beneficial for the artist, but also for the observer of that art.”
Volunteer at the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital (Service) - “… The children were very open in accepting me. They were always the ones who made this brief interaction between two strangers seem comfortable. Through the compassion I constantly saw in these very sick children I was exposed to an amazing outlook on life. One of the false assumptions I made about working at Children’s was that as a result of my work I would feel good about myself for giving my time to these children. In fact, I did feel good about myself but it was not because of what I had given. Instead it was the children who gave to me. From them I learned how positive and selfless people can be… ”
*CAS Advisor periodically monitors all students’ progress and sets up individual meetings with students as necessary to provide encouragement and advice.