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 shares results from a mixed-method, multi-institutional study gauging the type of faculty who teach capstone experiences, their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, and the type of support they receive at their institutions. Henscheid (2000) found that almost half of 707 regionally accredited colleges and universities use capstones as part of their institution’s assessment program and the 2010-2011 HERI Faculty Survey indicated that 35.8% of respondents had taught a Capstone course. The 2016–2017 HERI Faculty Survey indicated that just half of undergraduate teaching faculty participated in teaching-related professional development opportunities and that a majority of faculty surveyed (69.2%) agree that there is adequate support for faculty development. The results shared in this chapter paint a different picture of faculty desire for resources and support in teaching capstone experiences. In a survey of 138 faculty, less than half found the availability of resources “good” or “excellent,” with 14% of those surveyed saying that resources were not even available to them. It is vital that faculty members preparing to develop and teach capstone experiences have access to the resources they need to help them be successful. To that end, this chapter provides a common support needs checklist; a set of heuristics that help faculty identify what resources may be most helpful for them at the particular moment and guided by the tensions/pressures/motivations they experience in their particular context; and a how to guide to structure a significant conversation.

Discussion Questions

  • What can institutions learn from the faculty stories about teaching capstones?
  • How does your institution support (i.e. funding, release-time, tenure and promotion criteria) faculty who teach a capstone experience?
  • How would you describe your department culture related to teaching disciplinary/interdisciplinary capstones? Do faculty within your department support the need to teach the capstone?
  • What are the benefits gained by including faculty who do not teach the capstone experience in conversations and professional development workshops?