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

Traditionally in the biosciences, students have undertaken laboratory-based, fieldwork, or literature review capstones. However, less than ten percent of bioscience graduates go onto careers in scientific research; the overwhelming majority leave science altogether. Traditional bioscience capstones do not provide the requisite work experience or skills development for the diverse range of career paths followed by the majority of our graduates. There is a need to provide capstone opportunities that better prepare our students for the 21st Century workplace, a focus on providing the requisite work experience or skills development for the diverse range of career paths followed by the majority of our graduates.

This chapter details the 20-year journey of taking a discipline specific capstone course and evolving it into a course with a focus on personal and professional development, and preparation for the workplace, giving students the opportunity to select from 15 different formats of capstone. This design enables students to decide what they want to achieve personally and professionally from their capstone, creating a safe space to try out different career opportunities, and choose accordingly. The chapter functions as a comprehensive source of information for colleagues, irrespective of discipline, seeking to broaden the range of capstones available to their students, or those seeking to create capstone opportunities giving students greater ownership of their educational experiences and of their personal and professional development.

Discussion Questions

  • How have institutions embraced the capstone as a place to develop “4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)” skills?
  • Why do the authors believe that traditional research projects are no longer relevant deliverables for a capstone experience?
  • How has offering a broad variety of opportunities increased access to meaningful capstones for every student?