Definition

Adapted by Sophie Winston, based on concept by Caroline J. Ketcham

Capstone experiences aim to facilitate students’ sense-making of their growth and development across their major or general educational studies and have been a hallmark of undergraduate education in one form or another for at least as long as higher education has existed in the United States (Levine 1998). Historically, capstone experiences took the form of a culminating examination, testing a student’s accumulated knowledge. In the 1800s, a seminar model emerged, often taught by the college president (Levine 1998). Beginning in the early 1900s, course-based capstone experiences became a final opportunity to instill university values and reinforce learning (Kinzie 2013). They continue to be integrative and transformative learning experiences that mark the transitional nature of the final year (Kinzie 2013; Levine 1998).  

Capstone experiences can take the form of: 

  • A problem-based learning experience in which students work to apply their knowledge in a discipline to a problem (e.g., Brooks, Benton-Kupper, and Slayton 2004; Butler et al. 2017; Dunlap 2005). 
  • An undergraduate research experience sometimes but not always structured as the writing of a thesis (e.g., Julien et al. 2012; Nelson-Hurwitz and Tagorda 2015; Upson-Saia 2013). 
  • A service-learning or community-based learning approach in which students work with community members to put into action the skills and knowledge they acquired over their college career (e.g., Collier 2000; Nelson-Hurwitz and Tagorda 2015).  
  • A collaborative learning approach in which students tackle problems and apply their learning in groups, simultaneously navigating interpersonal challenges and learning from one another (e.g., Brooks et al. 2004; Collier 2000; Julien et al. 2012; Upson-Saia 2013). 

Capstone experiences may even be developed as some combination of the above practices.  

Even within a single university, the range of practice in capstones can be significant, and for good reason. Capstone experiences may occur as the culmination of a disciplinary major or mark the integration of interdisciplinary learning across a core curriculum. In either case, there is no universal way students might synthesize and apply their learning. In a study across capstone experiences at University of La Verne, Peggy Redman (2013) shares some examples: 

“Printed sticky notes glued on board” by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

The marketing student may identify growth through the complexities of developing a marketing plan in partnership with a local business or nonprofit organization. The education student sees learning in the development of a unit including lessons that cut across many disciplines, preparing him or her for the multiple-subject classroom.

A student in psychology completes a senior project that takes the student and faculty member to a conference where they are major presenters. All of these pathways can be part of the capstone, a critical force in integrating classroom learning and practical application.

(Heading 6, par. 1) 

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What makes it a high-impact practice?

Capstone experiences are designed to “provide students a host of opportunities to be engaged in educationally purposeful practice” (Kinzie 2013). Much of that design incorporates the qualities Kuh, O’Donnell, and Schneider (2017) specify as essential elements of High Impact Practices (HIPs). The following section reviews these elements in the specific context of capstone experiences. 

Performance expectations set at appropriately high levels. Strong capstone experiences recognize the deep learning students have done over time and continue to challenge students in their application of those skills and sets of knowledge. One example of this is Julien et al.’s (2012) assessment of capstone courses in which students participated in “authentic research experiences” in advanced physiology so as to be prepared for future study or work in health sciences. 

Significant investment of concentrated effort by students over an extended period of time. The semester-long class can harness this element of HIPs by structuring students’ development of a common goal or focus over the entire course. Projects in which students develop and conduct their own research are good examples of this. But extended capstone structures that carry over multiple semesters or even years (Nelson-Hurwitz and Tagorda 2015; Rash and Weld 2013; Redman 2013) could potentially be even more impactful for students. 

Two men watching on silver MacBook” by Jose Aljovin on Unsplash

Interactions with faculty and peers about substantive matters. Many of the examples of capstones involve collaborative learning among students (e.g., Brooks et al. 2004; Julien et al. 2012). It is worth noting the significance of student-faculty interactions within capstones as well. The most successful capstones embrace this key opportunity for students and faculty to reshape their relationship by “reframing the faculty–student relationship such that faculty become mentors, and students are both comfortable with coaching and highly motivated as they take on primary responsibility for their work” (Paris and Ferren 2013, Heading 2, par. 1; see also Rash and Weld 2013). Research suggests the relationships developed in college, especially with faculty, are one of the most significant and potentially transformative elements of higher education (Felten et al. 2016). 

Experiences with diversity; wherein students are exposed to and must contend with people and circumstances that differ from those with which the students are familiar. Many capstones involve some kind of service-learning, community-based learning, or internship experience (Butler et al. 2017; Collier 2000; Nelson-Hurwitz and Tagorda 2015). These are not only grounded opportunities to apply learning, but they are also often good opportunities for students to interact in meaningful ways across difference. Even capstones with collaborative learning without this experiential component show evidence of improving students’ interpersonal skills (Brooks et al. 2004), which may be connected with students working in diverse groups. 

Opportunities to discover relevance of learning to real-world applications. This feature is most apparent in capstone experiences that involve service-learning, community-based learning, or internship experiences (Butler et al. 2017; Collier 2000; Nelson-Hurwitz and Tagorda 2015). The relevance of learning to real-world applications can also come in carefully structured undergraduate research experiences. Brooks et al. (2004) in particular found that capstones structured as student-led multi-disciplinary team projects were especially well equipped to help students bridge their personal, professional, and public worlds. 

Public demonstration of competence. Several capstone experience examples include oral presentation components (e.g., Brooks et al. 2004), and Redman gives one example of a student who shares research with her professor as a major conference (2013). Half of the thesis examples in Upson-Saia’s (2013) study require some kind of public presentation or defense. However, an in-class presentation is very different from contributing to a disciplinary conference. It is unclear from this research how significant a public demonstration needs to be to have a positive impact on a student. It would also be worth exploring the impact of this practice in capstones that offer more creative or flexible forms of public demonstration of confidence, such as curating a gallery, leading a teach-in, or performing creatively.

Periodic, structured opportunities to reflect and integrate learning. There are multiple examples that explicitly highlight reflection and reflective activities or projects as a key element of the capstone experience (e.g., Brooks et al. 2004; Butler et al. 2017; and Redman 2013). Reflection provides an opportunity to synthesize and, as in one example, ask the key questions: “Who am I?, How can I know?, and What should I do?” (Brooks et al. 2004, 283). However, reflection must be intentionally facilitated, rather than assumed as a natural element of capstones. The examples that best showed students making gains in their reflective learning were those like Brooks et al. (2004) that included reflection as a driving goal of the capstone course. 

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Research-Informed Practices

Upson-Saia (2013, 12-15) offers three overarching suggestions for the development of capstones:  

  1. Think locally
  2. Think holistically
  3. Reassess periodically  

While her recommendations were written following study of discipline-specific capstone experiences (in her case, in religious studies), they are broad enough to be both relevant and highly applicable to interdisciplinary capstones as well.  

Think Locally: Upson-Saia (2013) describes the first recommendation as a reminder that capstones should be context specific. In the case of disciplinary capstones, this means the capstone should be tightly woven with departmental missions. Even for interdisciplinary capstones, focusing on just one culminating goal will give the capstone direction and focus (2013). A backwards approach to design, keeping one top priority in mind for what students will accomplish or take away from the experience, will help the experience be most impactful for students. Lee and Loton’s (2017) study of capstone purposes across disciplines may help those designing capstones prioritize goals. This focused and context-specific approach to design can help reign in the overwhelming possibilities as well as reinforce courses and projects that feature a significant investment of effort by students over an extended period of time (Kuh et al. 2017).  

Think holistically: This recommendation addresses the institutional factors that will make or break capstones. With the number of features HIPs need to include, and the goals some researchers have suggested of shifting the role of teaching to mentoring (Paris and Ferren 2013; Rash and Weld 2013), instructors have a difficult job facilitating successful capstone courses. Several researchers emphasize that the time and resources required are substantial, and they suggest administrators acknowledge and support faculty in this work (Lee and Loton 2017; Upson-Saia 2013). In addition, Lee and Loton (2017) describe capstones as “high risk activities” due to the high expectations both students and faculty place on these experiences. These expectations make administrative support imperative, but it also means that if an instructor wishes to deviate their capstone structure from the institutional norm, they will need to offer substantial justification due to the existing pressure on these courses and projects. 

Reassess periodically: Upson-Saia reminds us that because there is such a wide variety of possibilities, the form of capstone an instructor settles on may not remain appropriate as departmental cultures, curricular structures, and students all change and evolve over time. She describes the special topics seminar form of some capstones in her study as minimally different from other upper-level courses in the department and a holdover from the senior seminars of the 1800s (Upson-Saia 2013) and questions whether that model is still the most appropriate way to culminate a student’s experience. It is worth checking in and evaluating the efficacy of a program or project no matter what. Brooks et al. (2004) offer a helpful example of how to assess a capstone experience; they found that while their capstone did not meet some goals they assumed it would, it was successful in a number of other areas and did broader curricular work for the department that was otherwise missing. Without pausing to assess their program, they would not have understood whether its form was successful for their departmental goals.

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Embedded and Emerging Questions for Research, Practice, and Theory

Several characteristics of high impact practices need to be researched more deeply in the context of capstone experiences, including in particular: interaction with faculty and peers about substantive matters, public demonstration of competence, and frequent and timely feedback. Recent research has revealed the mentored relationship to be one of the most impactful of a student’s undergraduate experience (Lambert, Husser, and Felten 2018). Writings on capstones recommend spending time developing these mentored relationships in the capstone, but few explore the particular impact of relationship and mentorship in capstone experiences. Future research on this topic could contribute enormously to scholarly conversations about course-embedded mentorship and relationship building. Current research doesn’t specify how public demonstration of competence need be to make a capstone high impact. It would be worth exploring, for example, the impact of the demonstration of competence in capstones which have more creative forms such as curating a gallery, leading a teach-in, or performing creatively. Finally, frequent, timely, and constructive feedback—a key element of high impact practices—remains unexplored in the context of capstones and could make a valuable new direction for research. 

Like the qualities of high impact practices, writing about the benefits of capstones often doesn’t do enough to highlight the unique impacts of the qualities of capstones. Research on capstones highlighting their benefits often center on elements of capstones that are other HIPs—such as collaborative learning, problem-based learning, service- or community-based learning, or undergraduate research. This practice makes distinguishing the benefits of capstones from the known benefits associated with these other HIPs nearly impossible. And this challenge raises an important question: would a capstone without these elements be equally successful in promoting deep and engaged learning? 

While capstones share admirable goals and purposes, it has been more difficult to tell how much they are actually meeting those goals. Some interesting analysis of capstones has emerged of late that found that capstones were a significant positive predictor for only one element of liberal learning (“need for cognition”—or one’s propensity to engage in lifelong learning) and in fact was a significant negative predictor for critical thinking (Kilgo et al. 2015). The authors of this study specify that more research on capstones is needed, but a previous 2004 case study found similar results (Brooks et al. 2004).  In Brooks, Benton-Kupper, and Slayton’s (2004) assessment of a university (interdisciplinary) capstone, they were surprised to find that though they expected the university capstone to significantly support students’ critical thinking development, “the students did not identify the course as meeting those common threads of the University’s goals to a great or moderate degree” (Brooks et al. 2004, 281). Instead, students who took a discipline-specific capstone reported higher levels of critical thinking development. Both of these studies noted a number of other strong benefits to capstones—so it may be that in conjunction with the other coursework students engage in, they do not need to have a strong critical thinking focus. It is also possible that capstones that look different from these—perhaps those with more of an undergraduate research focus—may do a better job developing this skill. More research is needed in this area to make sense of these findings. 

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Key Scholarship

  • Butler, Des, Sandra Coe, Rachael Field, Judith McNamara, Sally Kift, and Catherine Brown. 2017. “Embodying Life-Long Learning: Transition and Capstone Experiences.” Oxford Review of Education 43 (2): 194-208. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2016.1270199.

    About this Journal Article:

    This case study describes the first of six principles, which informed the development of a capstone design for Australian legal education, and according to the authors, should inform the development of any capstone. The authors focus on Transition–the first of their selected principles–as a theoretical framework for the pedagogical design they develop. They extend Kift’s Transition Pedagogy, an adaptation of Schlossberg that focuses on first year students, to inform final year practices—viewing final year students as students in transition, too. The authors identify three areas in which the incorporation of transition pedagogy can enhance a capstone experience and help students manage uncertainty, complexity, and change; develop a professional identity; and career plan. While the case study doesn’t cover the implementation of the capstone design, the study can offer a useful model for capstone development. Additionally, the transition framework does a helpful job of linking student development theory (and Schlossberg’s theory of transition) with pedagogy and ends with qualitative data from students as evidence of the necessity of the framework.

  • Collier, Peter J. 2000. “The Effects of Completing a Capstone Course on Student Identity.” Sociology of Education 73 (4): 285-299. https://doi.org/10.2307/2673235.

    About this Journal Article:

    Collier’s article studies the effect of participation in a capstone experience on undergraduate students’ identification as a college student. He proposes that the increased identification with this role by capstone students over time indicate capstones’ effectiveness in socialization. Using different identity theories around role identities and role-identity acquisition as theoretical frameworks, Collier developed a longitudinal study of 26 senior capstone students (multidisciplinary and across the university) of one year’s capstone at a university, with a nonequivalent control group (n=26). Using pre- and post-measurements, Collier found that the nature of the capstone as a grounded and experiential course contributed to its transformative impact on students. Students connecting with the community in a capstone context were pushed to work more collaboratively, and this social aspect of their learning and work helped them to associate more strongly with the role of college student. The development of identity as a student is a potential strength of capstones. However, Collier fails to discuss why developing a student identity–especially in the senior year–is a worthwhile or positive practice, nor does he discuss how that student identity intersects with other social identities a student may hold. Collier does offer several practical implications for curriculum and specifically capstone development.

  • Dunlap, Joanna C. 2005. “Problem-Based Learning and Self-Efficacy: How a Capstone Course Prepares Students for a Profession.” Educational Technology Research and Development 53 (1): 65-83. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf02504858.

    About this Journal Article:

    Dunlap employed a mixed methods approach to study the self-efficacy of 31 students in a required undergraduate capstone course. She analyzed guided journal submissions and triangulated those responses with student responses to a survey tool called the General Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale, a 10-item scale that “assesses optimistic self-beliefs to cope with a variety of difficult demands in life” (73). Her findingsthat students’ participation in a problem-based learning environment impacts students’ sense of capability, especially looking forward to career prospects and their sense of professional identityoffer data to support why capstones serve as a powerful facilitator of transition for students. While her findings are most specific to problem-based learning, a related high impact practice, their basis in a capstone context may help support the development of positively impactful capstone experiences. 

  • Julien, Brianna L, Louise Lexis, Johannes Schuijers, Tom Samiric, and Stuart McDonald. 2012. “Using Capstones to Develop Research Skills and Graduate Capabilities: A Case Study from Physiology.” Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice 9 (3): 58-73. https://doi.org/10.53761/1.9.3.6.

    About this Journal Article:

    This case study describes two physiology capstones that culminate the Bachelor of Health Science at La Trobe University. The authors describe the student assessments involved in the capstones and evaluate the program itself based on student performance, student feedback, and faculty perceptions of the course. The authors found that final grades for students were significantly higher in 2011, following the implementation of the capstone course than final grades in the previous two years. Students reported positive skill development and satisfaction, and instructors noticed a higher degree of student-centered learning along with a “vastly increased workload” and “greater need for infrastructure services” (11). The value of this case study is not only the model it provides for capstone development, but also the consideration of staffing and resource needs to support strong capstone experiences. Other institutions looking to launch or revise capstone experiences would do well to recognize this resource challenge.

  • Ketcham , Caroline J, Anthony G Weaver, and Jessie L Moore. 2023. Cultivating Capstones: Designing High-Quality Culminating Experiences for Student Learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

    About this Book:

    Cultivating Capstones introduces higher education faculty and administrators to the landscape of capstone experiences, offers research-informed models that institutions could adapt for their own contextual goals, and suggests faculty development strategies to support implementation of high-quality student learning experiences. The edited collection draws primarily from multi-year, multi-institutional, and mixed-methods studies conducted by participants in the 2018-2020 Center for Engaged Learning research seminar on Capstone Experiences; this work is complemented by chapters by additional scholars focused on culminating experiences.

    The collection is divided into three sections. Part one offers typographies of capstones, illustrating the diversity of experiences included in this high-impact practice while also identifying essential characteristics that contribute to high-quality culminating experiences for students. Part two shares specific culminating experiences (e.g., seminar courses in general education curricula, capstone experiences in the major, capstone research projects in a multi-campus early college program, capstone ePortfolios, etc.), with examples from multiple institutions and strategies for adapting them for readers’ own campus contexts. Part three offers research-informed strategies for professional development to support implementation of high-quality student learning experiences across a variety of campus contexts.

    Learn more at Cultivating Capstones – Center for Engaged Learning

  • Kilgo, Cindy A, Jessica K Ezell Sheets, and Ernest T Pascarella. 2014. “The Link between High-Impact Practices and Student Learning: Some Longitudinal Evidence.” Higher Education 69 (4): 509-525. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-014-9788-z.

    About this Journal Article:

    This study used pre- and post-tests to estimate the efficacy of the 10 high impact practices supported by AAC&U and found that overall, the high impact practices do, in fact, support student learning. They found that active, collaborative learning and undergraduate research were especially effective in promoting critical thinking, cognition, and intercultural effectiveness, while capstones (among other HIPs) had more mixed effects. For capstones in particular, the authors found a negative link to critical thinking, “but positive net association with four-year gains in need for cognition” (519). The authors highlight several other specific positive gains in student learning as a result of capstones, and this data can be especially helpful in advocating not only for the value of capstones themselves, but in the value of intentionally designed capstones. The multi-institutional results help generalize the benefits, and even more importantly point to areas where negative links occurred, suggesting that administration and facilitation are key in capstones actually having high (positive) impact. 

  • Lee, Nicolette, and Daniel Loton. 2017. “Capstone Purposes across Disciplines.” Studies in Higher Education 44 (1): 134-50. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2017.1347155.

    About this Journal Article:

    This literature review analyzes the purposes of capstones as presented by faculty involved in capstone design and instruction. This review is valuable in offering a broad overview of capstone literature and present understandings—for example, capstones are frequently linked to development of employability skills and personal student attributes. In addition to a review of the literature, Lee and Loton conducted an online survey of 216 capstone educators internationally (with just over threequarters originating from Australia, the authors’ base). Here, they found the 20 most highly rated purposes for capstones were similarly rated across disciplinary groupsimplying they serve a common purpose regardless of discipline. The survey responses echoed what has been focused on broadly in the literature and adds some nuance that will be useful to readers seeking to understand capstones at an introductory level. Finally, the purposes raised may help designers of capstones identify shared purposes from which to backward design the capstone experience. 

  • Paris, David, and Ann Ferren. 2013. “How Students, Faculty, and Institutions Can Fulfill the Promise of Capstones.” Peer Review 15 (4). https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/how-students-faculty-and-institutions-can-fulfill-promise.

    About this Journal Article:

    This article offers a useful analysis of the capstone experience broadly, offering some recent historical context for capstones as well as recommendations for where they are headed today based on practice examples found across the United States. For American readers in particular, this analysis will offer some helpful comparisons to programs in a more familiar context. Unlike some of the heavier and formal research-centered pieces, another benefit of this article is its accessibility, due in large part because it serves to introduce a whole issue of Peer Review focused on capstone experiences. Paris and Ferren’s focus on the faculty-student relationship within capstones may be especially useful to readers, as it’s a lens of capstones not frequently seen in other literature and may be a key element in what makes capstones a high impact practice. 

  • Rash, Agnes, and Kathryn Weld. 2013. “The Capstone Course: Origins, Goals, Methods, and Issues.” PRIMUS 23 (4): 291-96. https://doi.org/10.1080/10511970.2013.775203.

    About this Journal Article:

    This is an introduction to a special issue on capstone courses, which describes a range of models, common goals across capstones, popular teaching methods used in capstones, the value of capstones as a way to assess a curricular program, and issues related to faculty development. The curricular focus, mathematics, is somewhat unique and so may be especially useful for instructors who come with a strong disciplinary connection and are unsure of how capstones may fit into or enhance the content they hope to impart on students. An interesting and also unique aspect of this piece is the acknowledgement of capstones’ value in program assessment. For administrators in particular, this may be a helpful argument for an added benefit of capstones beyond student learning directly associated with the course. This article, as with several others, is explicit in framing the teaching of capstones as more of a mentorship relationship–an idea that would be worth following up on in future research. 

  • Redman, Peggy. 2013. “Going beyond the Requirement: The Capstone Experience.” Peer Review 15 (4). https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/going-beyond-requirement-capstone-experience.

    About this Journal Article:

    This case study describes capstones across the curriculum and educational levels (bachelors, master’s, and doctoral) at the University of La Verne in southern California. By looking at the 127 capstone projects that students produced (41 undergraduate), Redman analyzed student writing and learning. As a result of the findings associated with this analysis, the university adapted a more integrated and reflective process across all four years to prepare students for their final capstone. This piece serves as a valuable model for thoughtfully embedding and scaffolding the capstone experience not only in the final year, but from a student’s first experience on campus. Additionally, the piece offers innovative ideas for linking capstones to other high impact practices such as community partnerships (service-learning) and ePortfolios. 

  • Upson-Saia, Kristi. 2013. “The Capstone Experience for the Religious Studies Major.” Teaching Theology & Religion 16 (1): 3-17. https://doi.org/10.1111/teth.12001.

    About this Journal Article:

    This study examines capstone experiences for religious studies majors at 29 different U.S. institutions. Upson-Saia not only explores the strengths across these experiences, and the factors that set apart especially successful programs, but also takes an explicit focus on “the most frustrating aspects of the capstone” and “how some departments avoid such frustrations” (4). Unlike Lee and Loton (2017), who found strong consensus among the top purposes of capstones, Upson-Saia found little consensus among religious studies capstones beyond “culmination” in their educational objectives. This may be a difference in scale–on a smaller scale, more variation is visible–or in context. Perhaps authors have similar ideas about what should be talked about in published articles, but in practice, there may be more variation in purpose. Interestingly, Upson-Saia discusses one of the themes Lee and Loton raised about the pressures put on the capstone: suggesting that frustrations about the capstone as not going well, or doing as much as it could, stem from those pressures for capstone to be doing everything. She takes a historical lens in her response to this, exploring the evolution of capstones and their purposes through history to think through how capstones may be positioned today. Her resulting list of best practices for religious studies capstones may be adapted across disciplinary contexts and offer a useful starting point for people designing and developing capstones. 

  • Young, Dallin George, Jasmin K Chung, Dory E Hoffman, and Ryan Bronkema. 2017. 2016 National Survey of Senior Capstone Experiences: Expanding our Understanding of Culminating Experiences. Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

    About this Book:

    This publication reports on the 2016 National Survey of Senior Capstone Experiences conducted by the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. The survey previously was administered in 1999 and 2011. It reports on capstones in curricular and co-curricular higher education programs, including objectives for the capstone experiences, types of capstone by field of study, and percentage of seniors participating in capstones.

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Model Programs

The University of Oregon has several strong capstone examples based around community engaged learning. Their Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) serves as the capstone experience for environmental studies majors and other interested students, and involves matching student “teams with non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and businesses to address local environmental needs” (Lynch and Boulay 2011). Similarly, the University of Oregon’s Master of Public Administration program matches students to local clients to “solve real-world policy and management problems” (IPRE Blog 2020). In 2020, students in this program focused on supporting vulnerable populations, developing resilience, and supporting sustainability. The real-world and problem-based nature of these capstone experiences allow students to apply their learning to projects that matter.  

The University of Leeds has a culminating research experience as the capstone for its honors bioscience students. The department specifies that “all honors degree students are expected to have some personal experience of the approach to practice and evaluation of scientific research,” and that “it is expected to include an element of novelty satisfied by work that is hypothesis-driven or which leads to formation of an hypothesis” (University of Leeds and D.I. Lewis 2019). 

The College of Wooster in Ohio has a robust final year research project as its culminating experience. Wooster works to set the foundation for this work early, through opportunities like the Sophomore Research Program, which funds students as paid research assistants to Wooster faculty and encourages students to connect with faculty on independent research projects in other spaces as well. The final capstone experience is called the Independent Study, and pairs every student with a professor for a one-on-one mentored experience. This deep, synthesizing, sustained, and highly mentored experience checks off each of the key qualities of high impact practices.  

Additional programs are featured in Cultivating Capstones (forthcoming from Stylus Publishing). 

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ePortfolios as Capstone Experience

Making College “Worth It” – Season 1, Episode 7 In this episode, we visit with Carol Van Zile-Tamsen, associate vice provost for curriculum, assessment, and teaching transformation at the University at Buffalo, about UB’s ePortfolio capstone requirement for general education….

Capitalizing on Capstone Experiences

Making College “Worth It” – Season 1, Episode 4 Caroline Ketcham and Tony Weaver, co-editors of Cultivating Capstones: Designing High-Quality Culminating Experiences for Student Learning, share strategies for faculty and students to make the most of these high-impact opportunities for…

Inclusive Capstone Experiences, Pathways, and Pipelines

Capstones as a high-impact practice are intended to provide students with the opportunity to integrate their learning across the undergraduate experience, often applying their knowledge to solve problems or ask questions while promoting student agency (Ketcham, Weaver, Moore, and Felten,…

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Elon Statement on Capstone Experiences

From 2018 to 2020, twenty-two scholars participated in the Center for Engaged Learning research seminar on Capstone Experiences, co-led by Caroline Ketcham (Elon University), Jillian Kinzie (Indiana University), and Tony Weaver (Elon University). The seminar fostered international, multi-institutional research on capstone…

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References

“2020 Capstone and Oregon Policy Lab Project Launch.” Web log. IPRE Blog(blog). University of Oregon, February 20, 2020. https://blogs.uoregon.edu/cscenter/2020/01/28/2020-capstone-and-oregon-policy-lab-project-launch/.  

Brooks, Randy, Jodi Benton-Kupper, and Deborah Slayton. “Curricular Aims: Assessment of a University Capstone Course.” The Journal of General Education 53, no. 3/4 (2004): 275–87. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27797996. 

Covington, Owen, Leo M Lambert, Jason Husser, and Peter Felton. “The Conversation:  Mentors Play Critical Role in Quality of College Experience.” Today at Elon. The Conversation, August 22, 2018. https://www.elon.edu/u/news/2018/08/22/the-conversation-mentors-play-critical-role-in-quality-of-college-experience/.  

Felten, Peter, John N Gardner, Charles C Schroeder, Leo M Lambert, and Betsy O Barefoot. The Undergraduate Experience: Focusing Institutions on What Matters Most. Wiley, 2016.  

Kinzie, J. “Taking Stock of Capstones and Integrative Learning.” 2013. Peer Review; Washington 15, no. 4: 27–30.  

Kuh, George, Ken O’Donnell, and Carol Geary Schneider. “Hips at Ten.” 2017. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning49, no. 5: 8–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2017.1366805.  

Lynch, Kathryn A., and Margaret C. Boulay. 2011. “Promoting Civic Engagement: The Environmental Leadership Program at the University of Oregon.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences1, no. 3: 189–93. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-011-0028-x.  

Levine, Arthur. 1998. “A President’s Personal and Historical Perspective.” In The Senior Year Experience: Facilitating Reflection, Integration, Closure and Transition, ed. John N. Gardner, Gretchen Van der Veer, and Associates. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

“Microbiology Society.” Homepage | Microbiology Society. PIXL 8 Group, 2021. https://microbiologysociety.org/.  

Nelson-Hurwitz, Denise C., and Michelle Tagorda. 2015. “Developing an Undergraduate Applied Learning Experience.” Frontiers in Public Health 3. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2015.00002.  

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The Center thanks Sophia Abbot, our 2018-2020 graduate apprentice, for contributing the initial content for this resource.