What is CAS?
CAS stands for Creativity, Action, and Service. It is a framework for experiential learning which is designed to involve students in new roles. The emphasis is on learning by doing real tasks that have real consequences and then reflecting on these experiences over time.
This process of doing and reflecting on the doing provides an excellent opportunity to extend what is learned in the classroom to a form of service, such as applying science (from, for example, biology or environmental systems) to the environment, or applying technology (from, for example, design technology) to the design of devices to help people who are disabled or to improve living conditions in a home, town, or refugee camp.
Completing CAS is a requirement for the International Baccalaureate program. Any student who does not fulfill the CAS requirement will not receive an IB diploma.
What Qualifies as CAS?
The most meaningful CAS experience comes from spending time with others to build relationships and develop the self worth of both server and served. In the design and construction of their CAS schedules, coordinators are strongly encouraged to emphasize these aspects as much as possible.
Appropriate activities might include:
- helping with rehabilitation at the local hospital
- teaching basic literacy
- establishing and coaching a sports team for disadvantaged youngsters
- establishing and leading a musical ensemble for visually impaired people
- involvement in a theatrical production to which refugee children are invited
- teaching the use of computers
- environmental restoration and protection
The activities should be undertaken gradually, be appropriately adapted to the circumstances, and take into account the
students’ aptitudes and preferences. The experience should never be a shock for students; this would be counter to the educational aims of CAS; rather it should reward and enrich all involved. When well carried out, CAS should build self-esteem, self-confidence, autonomy and self-reliance.
What is not CAS?
Generally, CAS is not taking place when the student is in a passive rather than active role. There should be interaction. If the student is passive, nothing of real value, either for the student or for other people, results from what the student is doing, and no real reflection is possible. In such circumstances the student will be able to meet the objectives of CAS only to a very limited extent. Examples of activities that at first sight would appear to be inappropriate are listed below.
- Any class, activity or project that is already part of the student’s diploma program.
- An activity for which a student is personally rewarded either financially or with some other benefit (unless this benefit is passed on in full to a worthy cause).
- Doing simple, tedious and repetitive work, like returning school library books to the shelves,
- a passive pursuit, such as a visit to a museum, the theatre, art exhibit, concert or sporting event, unless it clearly inspires work in a related activity in which a student is already engaged.
- all forms of duty within the family.
- religious devotion and any activity that can be interpreted as proselytizing.
- fund-raising with no clearly defined end in sight.
- an activity where there is no leader or responsible adult on site to evaluate and confirm student performance.
- activities that cause division amongst different groups in the community.
Working in a nursing home/assisted living facility when the student:
- has no idea of how the facility operates
- is just making food
- has no contact at all with the residents
- actually does no service for other people
If you are not sure if an activity counts as CAS, please see the Gulf High School CAS Coordinator.
Last updated: Sept. 10, 2012
Original text by Scott Fuller, IB c/o 2010.