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

In a sample of institutions from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, only 9.1% of institutions with universally required capstone experiences approached the capstone from a general education or core curriculum approach. The other 91.0% were either exclusively disciplinary or combined disciplinary knowledge with more general learning across various disciplines. This chapter provides a case study analysis of a universally required general education capstone at University of Buffalo in the United States.

This particular capstone requirement is unique because it is part of the general education program (not a disciplinary capstone) and implemented at a large, research-intensive public institution where a program of such scale is typically not expected. In addition, the signature work product is an integrative portfolio based on general education coursework. Drawing on document analysis and interviews, this chapter describes the context of the institution, the structure of the capstone experience, the drivers for and conception of this program, the detailed goals of this capstone experience, and the benefits and challenges of this general education capstone course.

Discussion Questions

  • The authors write, “The general education capstone is an under-utilized option that deserves more attention.” What arguments are presented to suggest that the general education capstone is under-utilized?
  • The case study uses an ePortfolio within the capstone experience. What are the benefits and challenges of the ePortfolio as a mechanism for assessing learning in the capstone?
  • This chapter highlights how the governance structure influenced the implementation of the general education capstone. Consider your institution’s governance structure and how that impacts capstone design, implementation, and assessment on your campus.
  • The University of Buffalo has remained student focused in the implementation of their capstone experience. How can your institution ensure students remain central to the capstone experience?