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Service Learning
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Service Learning

The Nature of Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)

CAS Coordinator:  Dr. Roxanne Giampapa

...if you believe in something, you must not just think or talk or write, but must act. Peterson (2003)


Creativity, action, service (CAS) is an important component of learning at Pinewood and it is at the heart of the IB Diploma Programme. It is one of the three essential elements in every student’s Diploma Programme experience. It involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies.
The three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows:

  • Creativity: arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
  • Action: physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the Diploma Programme.
  • Service: an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.

CAS enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development through experiential learning. At the same time, it provides an important counterbalance to the academic pressures of the rest of the Diploma Programme. In line with our mission, Pinewood aims to promote a CAS program that is both challenging and enjoyable, a personal journey of self-discovery. Each individual student has a different starting point, and therefore different goals and needs, but for many their CAS activities include experiences that are profound and life-changing.

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, reporting
  • Reflection on outcomes and personal learning

All proposed CAS activities need to meet these four criteria. It is also essential that they do not replicate other parts of the student’s Diploma Programme work.
Concurrency of learning is important in the Diploma Programme. Therefore, CAS activities should continue on a regular basis for as long as possible throughout the programme, and certainly for at least 18 months. Successful completion of CAS is a requirement for the award of the IB diploma. CAS is not formally assessed but students need to document their activities and provide evidence that they have achieved eight key learning outcomes.

International Dimensions

The aim of all IB programs is to develop internationally minded people who,  recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world. IB learner profile booklet (March 2006).

Creating “a better and more peaceful world” is a large aim. Working towards it should be seen as involving many small steps, which may be taken locally, nationally or internationally. It is important to see activities in a broader context, bearing in mind the maxim “Think globally, act locally”. Working with people from different social or cultural backgrounds in the vicinity of the school can do as much to increase mutual understanding as large international projects.

CAS and Ethical Education

There are many definitions of ethical education. The more interesting ones acknowledge that it involves more than simply “learning about ethics”.  Meaningful ethical education—the development of ethical beings—happens only when people’s feelings and behavior change, as well as their ideas.

Because it involves real activities with significant outcomes, CAS provides a major opportunity for ethical education, understood as involving principles, attitudes and behavior. The emphasis in CAS is on helping students to develop their own identities, in accordance with the ethical principles embodied in the Pinewood mission statement and the IB learner profile.

Various ethical issues will arise naturally in the course of CAS activities, and may be experienced as challenges to a student’s ideas, instinctive responses or ways of behaving (for example, towards other people). In the context of CAS, Pinewood has a specific responsibility to support students’ personal growth as they think, feel and act their way through ethical issues.

Aims

Within the Diploma Programme, CAS provides the main opportunity to develop many of the attributes described in the IB learner profile. For this reason, the aims of CAS have been written in a form that highlights their connections with the IB learner profile.

The CAS programme aims to develop students who are:

  • Reflective thinkers—they understand their own strengths and limitations, identify goals and devise strategies for personal growth
  • Willing to accept new challenges and new roles
  • Aware of themselves as members of communities with responsibilities towards each other and the environment
  • Active participants in sustained, collaborative projects
  • Balanced—they enjoy and find significance in a range of activities involving intellectual, physical, creative and emotional experiences.

Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes are differentiated from assessment objectives because they are not rated on a scale. The completion decision for us as a school in relation to each student is, simply, “Have these outcomes been achieved?” As a result of their CAS experience as a whole, including their reflections, there should be evidence that students have:

  • Increased their awareness of their own strengths and areas for growth
    They are able to see themselves as individuals with various skills and abilities, some more developed than others, and understand that they can make choices about how they wish to move forward.
  • Undertaken new challenges
    A new challenge may be an unfamiliar activity, or an extension to an existing one.
  • Planned and initiated activities
    Planning and initiation will often be in collaboration with others. It can be shown in activities that are part of larger projects, for example, ongoing school activities in the local community, as well as in small student-led activities.
  • Worked collaboratively with others
    Collaboration can be shown in many different activities, such as team sports,
    playing music in a band, or helping in a kindergarten. At least one project, involving collaboration and the integration of at least two of creativity, action and service, is required.
  • Shown perseverance and commitment in their activities
    At a minimum, this implies attending regularly and accepting a share of the responsibility for dealing with problems that arise in the course of activities.
  • Engaged with issues of global importance
    Students may be involved in international projects but there are many global issues that can be acted upon locally or nationally (for example, environmental concerns, caring for the elderly).
  • Considered the ethical implications of their actions
    Ethical decisions arise in almost any CAS activity (for example, on the sports field, in musical composition, in relationships with others involved in service activities). Evidence of thinking about ethical issues can be shown in various ways, including journal entries and conversations with Dr. Roxanne Giampapa, the CAS advisers.
  • Developed new skills
    As with new challenges, new skills may be shown in activities that the student has not previously undertaken, or in increased expertise in an established area.

All eight outcomes must be present for a student to complete the CAS requirement. Some may be demonstrated many times, in a variety of activities, but completion requires only that there is some evidence for every outcome. This focus on learning outcomes emphasizes that it is the quality of a CAS activity (its contribution to the student’s development) that is of most importance. The guideline for the minimum amount of CAS activity is approximately the equivalent of half a day per school week (three to four hours per week), or approximately 150 hours in total, with a reasonable balance between creativity, action and service. “Hour counting”, however, is not encouraged.