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

This chapter describes the evolution of the capstone requirement at the two Australian universities, which require all students to undertake a capstone experience in their undergraduate degree. Institutional leaders with knowledge of history and practice of capstones within each of the two Australian institutions committed to capstones were interviewed. Both universities are Melbourne-based: the top-ranked, Group of Eight (sandstone) University of Melbourne and the lower-ranked, innovative research-oriented La Trobe University. Our prompt was: “Tell me the story of capstones at your institution.”

Results explore why and how these institutions developed a strong commitment to capstones in curriculum. In this way, the chapter aims to deepen our understanding of how institutions manage the change process for introducing and sustaining capstones. Overall, these stories reveal the complex forces driving capstone change, implementation and perceived success. The insights provided offer lessons for whole-of-institution capstone design, implementation and maintenance.

Discussion Questions

  • Discuss the organizational change frameworks presented and how they can provide structure to the conversation around capstone development and implementation.
  •  What lessons can be learned from the two case studies about how to implement a major change, such as the capstone experience? What long term benefits and challenges would you anticipate if you adapted these implementation strategies to create an institutional-wide capstone experience at your campus?