CAS interviews are an essential component of the CAS process. When executed well, they allow students to reap the program’s rewards and serve as a means of checking in, so no one gets left behind. However, fitting so many interviews into the busy schedule of a CAS Coordinator can be quite a challenge. It is vital to go in with a plan in order to make the most of everyone’s time and feel that each interview fulfilled its intended purpose. Thankfully, CAS Advisers have more format options than ever before. A 1:1 sit-down interview simply is not the best way of connecting with all students—and schools are increasingly open-minded about how they approach this process.
CAS interviews should be flexible enough that a student feels comfortable opening up about their experiences, successes, and challenges. That said, operating within a loosely structured framework will help guide the process and ensure students are maximizing the opportunities and possibilities of CAS.
Get the vibe right
A CAS interview should be set up to both evaluate progress and get students excited about what lies ahead. Alexis Toye, an experienced IB Coordinator and expert in education leadership, has invested a lot of time and energy in creating various format options to best serve his students. He was generous enough to share some of his insight with us.
He explains that the existing framework needed an update.“Our interviews used to be staged and a bit dull—just a list of questions that had no impact on the student. It felt like ticking an IB box.” With the support of colleagues, he decided to find a better solution. “We realized that interviews did not need to be 1:1 or in the same format. So I played with it a lot and came up with the following:
- 1: Short student presentations to CAS Adviser about CAS Plan and Vision
- 2: Group discussion of 3-4 students where the students were given topics in advance to think about, and they had to come up with the questions
- 3: Viva Voce style celebration of their CAS journey, what impact it had on them, and what they would take from it moving forward. I would have the CAS Advisers record the interviews and upload them to their CAS portfolio on Managebac with students writing any action points that came from it.”
As Alexis explains, the flexibility of these approaches allows topics to be engaged with more organically and “is far better like this than an overwhelming list of questions which we only had a realistic 7 minutes to ask each student.”
Regardless of the format chosen, though, there are some crucial topics to cover during each stage of the process. There is a minimum of three scheduled CAS interviews during a student’s IB DP. Let’s take a look at the purpose of each one and some of the relevant topics.
First CAS interview
The first CAS interview should take place in the early stages of the IB DP, once a student has completed a CAS orientation and is familiar with the elements of CAS. The purpose of this interview is to gauge the student’s understanding of CAS, discuss relevant interests, get the student prepared for their very first CAS experience, and review the learning outcomes of CAS—while outlining possible ways that they might be achieved.
Topics to explore
In the beginning, it is crucial to get students feeling empowered by and excited about CAS. Here are some ideas to get started.
- Objectives for CAS and how they relate to the IB learner profile.
- Favorite activities outside of school and how they could be linked to a CAS experience.
- Current personal goals and how they could be achieved through CAS.
- Groups to become involved in to meet CAS requirements.
- Ideas for the CAS project.
- Preferred methods of reflection.
- The overall vision for the CAS Journey.
- Which SDG is most relatable from a “think global act local” approach.
- Any fears relating to CAS.
Second CAS interview
By the time the second interview rolls around, it is time to assess whether or not the student’s engagement with CAS is on track and determine the student’s progress towards fulfilling CAS requirements and what evidence has been collected thus far. This interview should also act as an opportunity for the student to reflect verbally on CAS and to be reminded that CAS is meant to be enjoyable and beneficial to themselves and others with whom they are engaging.
Topics to explore
There is a good chance that students will be feeling a little overwhelmed at the time of their second CAS interview. Here are some topics to help keep things inspiring and positive.
- The most enjoyable aspect of the CAS experience thus far.
- Progress update on the CAS project.
- Biggest CAS challenges overcome to date.
- How reflection has helped to gain insights or understanding.
- A skill that has strengthened or developed from engaging in a CAS
- Progress regarding the learning outcome.
- How CAS has applied to over subject areas.
- Ideas about college and career choices.
Third CAS interview
As a student is wrapping up their IB DP, the final and summative CAS interview should focus on achievements and the realization of the CAS learning outcomes. Students need to examine their thoughts and feelings about the overall program and reflect on the growth that they have experienced. Now is the time to dig into personal awareness and development, more robust understandings of the world, and how the CAS experience might impact future choices and actions.
Topics to explore
- Goals that have been achieved.
- The greatest challenge overcome in regards to CAS.
- How to apply the CAS stages to future choices or life in general.
- Describe the outcomes of the CAS project.
- Reflections on the nature of collaboration.
- How CAS relates to issues of global importance.
- Advice for younger students just beginning their CAS journey.
Final takeaways for CAS Coordinators
Remember that whatever format you decide best serves your students—CAS interviews should be an opportunity for mutual learning for both students and CAS coordinators. Remember that this valuable time together is a chance to cultivate self-evaluation that may indeed lead to lifelong integration of creativity, activity, and service in your students. It is also a chance for you to gain inspiration and insight as an educator.