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

These questions serve as a heuristic for those who wish to promote more structural implementations of capstone experiences (CE) that are inclusive of the multifaceted faculty needs around HIPs. We focus particularly on questions that may foster conversations across departments and institutions often needed to ensure that structures are in place for the success of individual faculty members who set out to design high-quality CEs.

CE Faculty to Themselves

  • What is my role in the department? What is my academic rank?
  • What are my tenure and promotion (T&P) plans?
    • How can I implement the CE to support my T&P?
  • Am I willing to devote extra time to CE?
    • What if that is unpaid time?
    • What if the work is unrecognized as part of workload?
  • Can/should/do I want to publish on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)?
  • What is my motivation for teaching CE?

CE Faculty to Departmental Colleagues

  • Are there expected projects/types of projects, performances, connections as a part of the CE?
  • Where does the CE fit in the rest of the curriculum?
  • Can we have regular conversations about CE expectations?
  • How do we make sure that students are apprised of and ready for CE?
  • What is our department expectation around student professionalization and the CE?

CE Faculty to Department Chairs (or Supervisors)

  • How does this CE count in my workload?
  • What is the departmental rotation schedule for this course?
  • Are capstones clearly defined at the institution?
  • How much design freedom do I have with this course?
    • Departmental guidelines
    • Student learning outcomes
    • Course sequences
    • Required components?
      • Performances?
      • Research paper/seminar paper?
      • Test?
    • Will I receive a stipend or other financial support?
    • Will I receive time/release for the CE?
    • How will this count toward Tenure, Promotion, and Merit rewards?
      • How is the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) viewed or considered in this department? At this institution?
      • Does SoTL publication count toward T&P?
    • What university resources are available to me in designing and implementing CE?
    • What university resources are available to me in teaching CE?
    • Assessment expectations for the CE

CE Faculty to Students

  • Do you understand the purpose of the CE in our major?
  • How have your other classes helped prepare you for the CE?
  • What do you want to get out of the CE? How can it be useful to you?
  • Are you willing to participate in faculty-student research partnerships? Departmental action teams?

CE Faculty to Community and Corporate Partnerships (CP)

  • What kinds of relationships already exist between the institution and the partner(s)? How does the CE fit in with these existing relationships?
  • What expectations do the CP stakeholders have for student CE work?
  • What benefits can students expect from CP-based CE work? What benefits can CPs expect from student-based work?
  • What happens if students cannot meet CP expectations/needs with CE work?

CE Faculty to Academic Developers/Center Directors

  • Do you support relevant communities of practice?
  • Can you connect me to other CE instructors across the institution?
  • Do you have programming or resources that support SoTL?
  • Does our university ask students to take the NSSE? If so, could I see the results related to capstones? Can we get item analyses that relate to core learning outcomes, skills, or forms of learning associated with capstones (e.g. generating new ideas, integrative and applied learning from previous courses)?
  • Does the institution have specific initiatives or goals related to high-impact practices that connect to CE that I should know about (e.g. students graduate with a certain number of HIPs)?
  • What resources are available for curricular development and assessment?
  • Who are CE allies — those who are strong advocates for successful and equitable CEs — who I may partner with?
  • Is there a model CE at the institution that you might be able to use to support your efforts? Consider not only the design of the CE and its relationship to the curriculum, but also how the program rewards and recognizes work on capstone (e.g. taught on rotation, workload credit, recognized in promotion and retention reviews, etc.)

Special Questions for Interdepartmental/Interdisciplinary CE

  • In what ways does the institution value interdepartmental/interdisciplinary teaching? Interdisciplinary scholarship?
  • How can I have access to other CE instructors across the institution?