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

Drawing on research with two cohorts of student co-researchers who studied capstones, this chapter offers a model to explore the complementary frameworks of students-as-partners and community-engaged scholarship. The authors explore how the principles of each framework might fulfill higher education’s tripartite missions of teaching, research, and service, and encourage full, democratic participation and civic involvement. Engaging with students-as-partners is a practice gaining momentum internationally (Mercer-Mapstone et al., 2017). In these partnerships, students and university staff collaborate and contribute to pedagogical and research projects in equal, but different ways (Cook-Sather et al., 2014) to facilitate more equitable, diverse, and inclusive educational opportunities (Rankin et al., 2020). As part of a larger research project on student diversity, identity, and capstone experiences, the authors engaged with students-as-partners in a research collaboration. While the inclusion of student co-researchers was not an initial part of the research project, it became evident as research progressed that a students-as-partners approach would allow the team to more thoroughly address the research questions.

Discussion Questions

  • Consider the students-as-partners (SaP) approach used to examine the public messaging of colleges and universities related to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). What are some of the benefits and challenges associated with using SaP to study the capstone experience?
  • Discuss the explicit connections found on public-facing websites made between EDI and capstone experiences. Examine your own institutions’ public-facing documents and review how your institution embraces equity, diversity and inclusion concepts in the capstone experience.