CAS, CAS… oh, where do we begin? There are simply too many times we’ve seen students with their brows furrowed in concentration wondering how or where to start their reflection. To help you, here are some of the questions we like to ask our students.
1. What were your thoughts before and after?
For example, if you thought choosing tutoring was the right choice because you love to be around children, do you still think it’s the right choice after having tutored children for 2 hours every week for a few months?
2. What was especially memorable about your choice?
When you go for a holiday, there’s always a highlight of your trip. For tutoring, you may have experienced a sudden wave of happiness when the child you tutor went from failing to doing well in the next exam (we feel this happiness, and so we understand this well!). Write about it in detail.
3. What were the obstacles you faced?
As humans, we learn through trial and error. There’s never one way to solve a problem. By reflecting on any obstacles you might have faced, you can then evaluate how well you resolved the conflict and how you would have done something differently. Before you quickly rush to say there were no obstacles, really think it through. Sometimes things that you quickly dismiss as not being a problem, or ‘normal’ are opportunities you can learn from. It may not be something you immediately identify – it could even be as small as receiving unfair treatment at a group volunteering event, but from here you can reflect on subsequent issues like 1) how should you stand up for yourselves better in future? 2) How should you fight for your best interests? 3) How do you ensure you are treated fairly in a group setting? The key here is to demonstrate growth in how you faced obstacles, persevered and overcame them.
4. How were you challenged to grow?
This is a great extension of the earlier question, “what were the obstacles you faced?” and a great way to continue your reflection. This is a multi-faceted question. Think about how the experience changed the way you think of yourself and others. For instance, we’ve had privileged students that went into a service activity thinking they have travelled and seen most of the world, only to be humbled by the different experiences of others. Everyone has different life experiences and there’s always something you can learn from someone else.
5. What would you do differently?
Were there any mistakes you made during your activity of choice? If you chose to complete your Service component over 1h segments that lasted several months, was this difficult to complete? Did it become a drag? Ask yourselves these questions. Alternatively, were you over-ambitious in your choices? Do you regret doing both Zumba and Judo at the same time?
6. What feelings did your experience evoke?
Were you humbled, overjoyed or disappointed? Did the experience fall short of your expectations? Don’t be afraid to delve into your feelings! CAS is all about measuring your personal growth!
7. Did you learn any new skills?
If you were teaching, did you learn to be more assertive? If you were volunteering, did you have to do anything for the first time e.g. painting?
If you follow these questions, you should be able to write a decent CAS reflection that demonstrates personal growth and the attainment of new skills. Additionally, don’t forget that your portfolio needs to meet the seven learning outcomes outlined by the IBO regarding CAS (see below) so please make sure you refer to this consistently! If you’re still facing trouble in writing your CAS reflection or even planning the subsequent CAS activities, feel free to reach out to our academic strategists to see what tips they have for you!
The Seven CAS Learning Outcomes
- Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth – analyze your abilities, skills and weaknesses.
- Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process – this could be taking on a new experience or an existing one.
- Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience – describe the stages from conceiving an idea to executing a plan for an individual or collaborative CAS experiences.
- Show commitment to, and perseverance in, CAS experiences – demonstrate regular involvement in CAS activities, and show how you work around or overcome challenges.
- Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively – critically discuss the benefits and challenges of working with others.
- Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance – show an understanding of global issues, make responsible decisions and take appropriate action in response to the issue either locally, nationally or internationally.
- Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions – show awareness of the consequences of choices and actions in planning and carrying out your CAS experiences.