Creativity, Activity, Service

CAS provides students with the opportunity of being involved in a range of enjoyable and significant experiences, as well as a CAS project. It is at the heart of what the IB understands to be a holistic education which develops the whole person. It has a specific role in developing the students’ self-awareness and a sense of identity, and thus making a real difference to them. Good activities provide students with opportunities to reflect on their values and how they act in the world. Through service learning students are encouraged to reflect on their commitment to helping others in need and thus live out the IB Mission of creating a better and more peaceful world. It is for these reasons that CAS is a compulsory element of the IB Diploma Programme, and also the reason why it is more important that awarding grades to it!

Creativity, activity, service (CAS) is at the heart of the Diploma Programme. If we can describe TOK as a development in critical thinking and inquiry, CAS could be described as experiential learning that nurtures the heart and soul. It plays a crucial role in the Diploma Programme in developing personal and interpersonal skills. It also provides a counter-balance to the academic demands of the programme.

This section is written in the form of a number of CAS workshops that you can facilitate with your staff to introduce your colleagues to creativity, activity, service.

Professional Inquiry

  • What does CAS stand for?
  • What are the characteristics of a good CAS activity?
  • What learning outcomes should a CAS student achieve?
  • What are the CAS adviser's responsibilities?
  • What is the CAS Coordinator responsible for?
  • What duties does a CAS activity supervisor have?
  • What is a CAS student obligated to do?

What is CAS?

The three strands of CAS are:

Creativity - exploring and extending ideas leading to an original or interpretive product or performance

Activity - physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle

Service - collaborative and reciprocal engagement with the community in response to an authentic need.

CAS enables students to:

  • live out the IB learner profile in real and practical ways
  • to grow as individuals - through an exploration of their interests and passions, personalities and perspectives (a good example of developing personal knowledge {see TOK})
  • to recognize their role and responsibilities in relation to others.

"…if you believe in something, you must not just think or talk or write, but must act." (Alec Peterson, Schools Across Frontiers)

Activity 1: Marketing CAS

Use the Six word memoir protocol to articulate the key messages of the CAS programme. This could form the strap line of presentations to key stakeholders.

What are the characteristics of a good CAS programme?

"A meaningful CAS programme is a journey of discovery of self and others. For many, CAS is profound and life-changing." (CAS Guide, for students graduating in 2017:18)

  • Allows students demonstrate Learner Profile attributes.
  • Arises out of academic study in the subject groups - so it is informed by knowledge and understanding and provides opportunities for students to apply what they have learnt in their subjects to real life situations.The CAS Guide (page 15) provides examples of CAS activities that arise out of subject studies. Other examples can be found in the Creativity, activity, service teacher support material.
  • Reflects on the development of personal knowledge. If the academic subject groups introduce students to the world of 'shared knowledge' CAS provides an opportunity for them to develop and reflect on their 'personal knowledge': what values do they live by? how do they interact and contribute to the world? what are they passionate about? There is a clear ethical dimension to this. One of the learning outcomes is for students to "recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions". Students need to be supported as they think through the ethical issues they face in these activities.
  • Is individualized - it is about a personal learning journey, recognizing that each student starts at a different place. High quality reflection built in.
  • Explores global issues.
  • Develops personal and social skills such as problem-solving, team-work, conflict resolution, creative and critical thinking. In CAS students should have the opportunity of demonstrating high level self-management skills (e.g. setting challenging goals, managing time etc.)
  • Demonstrates the 7 learning outcomes during the 18 month programme through providing evidence in CAS portfolio.

CAS is an 18 month programme

Ideally carried on a weekly basis

Balance between Creativity, Activity and Service

A CAS experience may involve one or more of the three strands

CAS stages provide a framework for planning and implementing CAS activities. The stages are: investigation, preparation, action, reflection and demonstration

All students keep a CAS portfolio as evidence of engagement and reflection on the CAS learning outcomes

In addition each student undertakes a CAS project lasting at least one month. Key focus here is working in a team with others. It can address one or more of the CAS strands.

3 formal documented interviews between each student and CAS Coordinator

7 learning outcomes to do with: (1) identify personal strengths and areas for development; (2) new challenges and new skills; (3) initiate and plan CAS experience; (4) commitment and perseverance; (5) working collaboratively; (6) engage with global issues; (7) ethical choices and actions.

Activity: CAS Learning Outcomes

Read the CAS Learning Outcomes which can be found on pages 11 and 12 of the CAS Guide.

  • Select four outcomes and discuss what each one means and how you would explain them to your students
  • Discuss what would count as evidence that the outcomes under review had been achieved?
  • Discuss what obstacles might prevent students from successfully achieving the outcomes under review
  • Discuss appropriate formative feedback which might be offered to students as they engage in their CAS activities

CAS strands: Creativity, Activity, Service

C stands for Creativity

The IB defines creativity as "Exploring and extending ideas leading to an original  or interpretive product or performance." (CAS Guide p18).

  • An opportunity to challenge students to try something new, move from conventional to unconventional. If a student, for example, is already an accomplished musician they may wish to extend this skills on a different instrument.
  • Could include visual or performing arts, writing, film, culinary arts, crafts, composition.
  • Diverse ways of demonstrating creative experience e.g. social media, performance, recording, shared discussion.
  • CAS is about experiential learning. An essential part of this is the ability to reflect on experience in order to draw out meaning. Reflection should be encouraged in a range of media. For example, blogs, video diary, social media, conversations, photographs, music, poetry, even written responses.

Activity: Realizing the artist within

  • You have 2 minutes to look into your partner’s face.
  • Draw a portrait of each other, but follow the following rules: (a) keep your eyes shut; (b) your pen is not allowed to leave the surface of the paper; (c) you only have 2 minutes.

  • This is an exercise in learning how to see – we see when our eyes are shut as well as when they are open. Use Word clouds to reflect on how this made you feel.

If your portrait is looking something like this perhaps something is going right!

A really good video to show how creativity can permeate a whole school curriculum was produced by St. Marylebone School in London, UK.

A stands for Activity

The IB defines activity as "physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle." (CAS Guide p19)

  • The aim here is to promote lifelong healthy habits and physical well-being.
  • Activities include any form of physical exertion - individual and team sports, physical training etc.
  • If students are already part of teams they should set their own challenging personal goals.

Activity: Invent a Game

  • Work as a school team to create a game that reflects the values and traditions of your chosen school.
  • You must be able to explain the game in terms of (a) the big idea – linked to your values and traditions; and (b) the rules.
  • Now reflect on what it felt like to create this game. Use Word clouds to record your feelings and thoughts.

I am indebted to Andrew Watson, an IB Educator, for this idea

The role of the CAS Coordinator

It is an IB expectation that the CAS Coordinator is part of a school pedagogical leadership team. Their key role is to oversee the successful implementation of CAS experiences. they are ultimately responsible for judging whether students have met the CAS learning outcomes.

  • To develop a school CAS handbook (see page 38 of CAS Guide)
  • Oversee CAS budget; manage CAS records
  • To support students in their personal growth and to help them think through the ethical issues they face, encouraging them to take responsibility for their actions and to reflect on how these actions impact others and the world at large.
  • To help them define and implement a CAS experience.
  • To be sensitive to the family and cultural backgrounds of the students as they reflect on and think through the ethical dimensions of their choices, but also developing the IB Learner Profile in each.
  • Have three formally documented interviews with each student.No.1 at beginning of programme; No.2 at end of first year; No.3 at end of CAS programme. See pages 40-41 of CAS Guide.
  • Identify safety issues (i.e. risk assessment and child protection) - see page 39 of CAS Guide
  • Agree with students what evidence is required to demonstrate the seven CAS learning outcomes.
  • To communicate with all key stakeholders (including parents).
  • Supervise and where appropriate provide professional development for CAS supervisors
  • Report completion or non-completion of CAS experiences to IB on IBIS


CAS is about experiential learning. An essential part of this is the ability to reflect on experience in order to draw out meaning. The CAS Guide suggest the following four elements of reflection:

  • Describe what happened - memorable moment and why they were memorable.
  • Express feelings - how did they emotionally respond to the experience? how did I respond to the challenges?
  • Generate ideas - re-examining how you acted and the choices you made; e.g. how did my actions exemplify my values? how am I being encouraged to think differently?
  • Asking questions

The CAS Guide has a very useful section on reflecting (pages 26-29). The CAS Portfolio is a formal framework that encourages students to reflect on their CAS experiences.

Activity: Photo Journal

Reflection can be carried out in many different ways.

Whenever I visit a new country I avidly take photos. When I get back home I often capture my experience using one of the many photo book agencies. Photos are a great way of 'capturing an experience' and then offering opportunities for reflection. Here I have included some from a visit to Moscow. My ten days in the city encouraged many reflections not least about Russian heritage and history and its impact on the present.

You could use a Photo Montage Photo Montage protocol to carry on your own reflection or use with students as they reflect on their CAS experiences.


Was Albert Einstein talking about CAS when he said:

"Strange is our situation here on Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know; that we are here for the sake of each other, above all, for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we connect with a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labours of others, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am receiving."

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