Service Learning / Principled Action

“Service empowers you to connect with others to take action to enrich yourself,

our communities and the world”.

-From Principles into Practice (2014, pg. 24).


Action (learning by doing and experiencing) is an important component of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) programmes. As global citizens, we should all strive to be caring members of the community who demonstrate a personal commitment to service, and act to make a positive difference to the lives of others and the environment.

Principled Action May Involve Students In:

  • Feeling empathy towards others
  • Making small scale changes to their behavior
  • Undertaking larger and more significant projects
  • Acting on their own
  • Acting collaboratively
  • Taking physical action
  • Suggesting modifications to an existing system to the benefit of all involved
  • Lobbying people in more influential positions to act

APIS values service as an important way to engage in principled action across a range of overlapping local and global communities. Through responsible action, sustained inquiry and critical reflection, young people can develop the kinds of attributes that are essential for success in future academic pursuits and for adult life.

What Principled Action Looks Like in the PYP

PYP action is initiated by students, is authentic, meaningful, mindful, responsible and responsive. Action could be:

  • a change in attitude
  • a consideration or plan for action in the future
  • a demonstration of responsibility, or of respect for self, others and the environment
  • a commitment to leading or participating in a youth advocacy group
  • an engagement in school decision-making or an expression of support in community, local and global decision-making.

Forms of Action in the PYP

Action might come in the form of participation, advocacy, social justice, social entrepreneurship or life choices.

Participation: Being actively involved in the learning community and showing commitment to contributing as individuals and as members of a group.

Advocacy: Taking action individually or collectively to publicly support positive social, environmental or political change.

Social Justice: Taking action for positive change relating to human rights, equality and equity. Being concerned with the advantages and disadvantages within society, and with social well-being and justice for all.

Social Entrepreneurship: Supporting positive social change through responding to the needs of local, national and global communities; applying prior knowledge and skills to identify and address challenges and opportunities in innovative, resourceful and sustainable ways.

Lifestyle Choices: Making positive lifestyle changes in response to learning

What Principled Action Looks Like in the MYP

Principled action in the MYP is embedded in teaching and learning and encouraged by learning experiences that allow students to understand local and global issues through the lenses of a variety of disciplines. Student’s action and reflection extend outside the classroom and provide an opportunity for our pupils to use what they have learned in the real world.The following Learning outcomes are evidenced in Student reflections as part of the student’s e-portfolio, supported with evidence, such as photos, video, reflections or supervisors’ statements.:

  1. Become more aware of their own strengths and areas for growth
  2. Undertake challenges that develop new skills
  3. Discuss, evaluate and plan student initiated activities
  4. Persevere in action
  5. Work collaboratively with others
  6. Develop international mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding
  7. Consider the ethical implications of their actions

Expectations for Grades 7 – 10:

  • Student initiated action must come out of the units in the curriculum
  • Student initiated action through Advisory
  • Student participation in CWW
  • Student reflections as part of the student’s e-portfolio, supported with evidence, such as photos, video, reflections or supervisors’ statements

What Principled Action Looks Like in the DP

Successful completion of CAS is not determined by reaching a certain number of hours, but by an engagement over a period of 18 months, completion of at least one CAS project, and by achieving the seven learning outcomes. Engagement of CAS must be on a weekly basis, with a minimum of 2-3 hours, balanced between creativity, activity and service. CAS occurs outside of  class time and CAS activities are not part of any course expectation

Through CAS experiences and reflections, documented in a portfolio, students will show evidence of achieving the following:

  1. Strength and Growth: Students are able to see themselves as individuals with various abilities and skills and understand that they can make choices about how they wish to move forward.
  2. Challenge and Skills: A new challenge may be an unfamiliar experience or an extension to an existing one. This gives students the opportunity to master new skills in such activities or increase their expertise in an established area.
  3. Initiative and Planning: Students can develop an idea and execute it, or build from a previous experience. This learning outcome is often accomplished in collaboration with other participants.
  4. Commitment and Perseverance: Students demonstrate regular involvement and active engagement in CAS.
  5. Collaborative Skills: Can be shown in various activities, i.e. team sports or playing an instrument in a band.
  6. Global Engagement: Students are able to identify and demonstrate their understanding of global issues, make decisions that can be acted upon locally, nationally or internationally (for example, environmental concerns, caring for the elderly, MUN, local and global service learning)
  7. Ethics of Choices and Actions: Ethical (moral) decisions arise in almost any CAS activity (for example in relationship with others involved in service activities, or in any sort of competition in the sports field or a musical competition). Evidence of thought processes on ethical issues should be in reflection entries.

All seven outcomes must be present to fulfill CAS requirements (not all seven outcomes in all activities). Successful completion of CAS requires that there is some evidence for every outcome.

What Principled Action Looks Like in the Residential Life Program

  • Student initiated programs
  • On campus programs
  • Action program for implementation at an approved designated institution