Book cover of Cultivating Capstones: Designing High-Quality Culminating Experiences for Student Learning, edited by Caroline J. Ketcham, Anthony G. Weaver, and Jessie L. Moore
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ISBN: 9781642674170

January 2023

Cultivating Capstones introduces higher education faculty and administrators to the landscape of capstone experiences, offers research-informed models that institutions could adapt for their own contextual goals, and suggests faculty development strategies to support implementation of high-quality student learning experiences. The edited collection draws primarily from multi-year, multi-institutional, and mixed-methods studies conducted by participants in the 2018-2020 Center for Engaged Learning research seminar on Capstone Experiences; this work is complemented by chapters by additional scholars focused on culminating experiences.

The collection is divided into three sections. Part one offers typographies of capstones, illustrating the diversity of experiences included in this high-impact practice while also identifying essential characteristics that contribute to high-quality culminating experiences for students. Part two shares specific culminating experiences (e.g., seminar courses in general education curricula, capstone experiences in the major, capstone research projects in a multi-campus early college program, capstone ePortfolios, etc.), with examples from multiple institutions and strategies for adapting them for readers’ own campus contexts. Part three offers research-informed strategies for professional development to support implementation of high-quality student learning experiences across a variety of campus contexts.

Cultivating Capstones helps us rethink the culmination of the degree, not as the pinnacle of a cloistered baccalaureate experience, but instead invigorated by external connections on all sides. Increasingly our students situate us amid multiple, competing responsibilities. In turn, educators need the tools presented here to cultivate feedback and agency, partnerships across institutions and communities, civic engagement and scaffolded independent research. In case studies and interviews, the authors make a powerful case for synthesizing learning from the whole degree in ways that respect and leverage the broader ecosystem of our students’ complicated lives.

Ken O’Donnell, Vice Provost, California State University Dominguez Hills and Editor-in-Chief, Experiential Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

Whether you’re new to capstone experiences, a seasoned capstone course instructor, or somewhere in between, you’ll find in this book vivid and varied examples of capstone models and practical guidance for supporting faculty and staff, so that students can reap the benefits of this high-impact practice. Given that capstone experiences embody the integration and application of learning, and can serve as much-needed bridges from college to career, I recommend it to all higher education leaders committed to truly serving students and ensuring their long-term success.

Isis Artze-Vega, College Provost & Vice President, Academic Affairs, Valencia College

We know from powerful research like the Gallup Purdue Index that completing a project that lasts a semester or more is transformational to not only students’ immediate college experience but also to their future selves. That said, simply calling something a “capstone” does not make it so. This volume fills an important gap at the nexus of research and practice on this high-impact educational practice, and should be required reading for all those interested in designing and delivering a truly vibrant and impactful capstone experience.

Kate Drezek McConnell, VP for Curricular and Pedagogical Innovation and Executive Director of VALUE, AAC&U

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