Capstone assignments – or similar culminating experiences for seniors – weave together students’ undergraduate educational experiences (in the major or in general education) and offer opportunities for integration, application, and closure to the baccalaureate experience. Assignments and projects provide students with opportunities to integrate the various elements of their learning, making connections across courses, between general education and the major, and between academic coursework and work, citizenship, and personal life. Capstone experiences may also foster transition to employment, career preparation, or graduate education.
Well-designed capstone assignments ask students to:
- Integrate and extend prior learning
- Grapple with authentic, contextualized experiences and challenging, complex scenarios
- Actively apply independence and agency, in order to synthesize their learning
- Apply critical inquiry and creativity
Integrative learning is a significant undertaking and requires faculty to create intentional settings, projects, and occasions. Features of effective integrative learning assignments include:
- Linked to and aligned with prior and subsequent assignments
- Engaging, interesting, and challenging
- Explicit about purpose, task, and evaluation
- Respect and reflect different ways of knowing and levels of preparation
- Allow useful, formative feedback
Capstone Assignment Design Toolkit
The following resources are provided to assist faculty in designing, refining, assessing, and enhancing their program’s capstone or senior culminating experience course and assignments to more effectively support student learning. ATL also offers collaborative assignment design charrettes and mini-workshops to WSU faculty and departments, adapted to meet goals, needs, and contexts. For more information, see our Workshops page or contact us.
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|Designing Capstones||ATL - WSU||Designing Capstone Experiences||Webpage with information and resources about designing capstone experiences|
|Designing Capstones||Fink, L. D.||Integrated Course Design (Idea Paper #42)||PDF article that outlines the key ideas and practical components to foster significant learning in complex assignments and provide effective course design|
|Designing Capstones||Hutchings, P.||Capstone Assignment Design Workshop with Dr. Hutchings||Webpage with materials from Dr. Pat Hutchings' May 2016 two day workshop at WSU|
|Example Capstone Assignments||Various||DQP Assignment Library||Website with an online library of peer reviewed collegiate-level course assignments in a wide variety of academic disciplines, searchable by discipline, assignment characteristic (including Capstone), DQP proficiency and level|
|Capstone Assessment||ATL - WSU||Assessing Capstone Experiences||Webpage with information and resources about assessing capstone experiences|
|UCORE Integrative Capstones [CAPS]||UCORE - WSU||UCORE Integrative Capstones [CAPS]||Webpage that outlines content and assessment requirements for UCORE-designated Integrative Capstone [CAPS] courses at WSU|
Additional Resources and Scholarship
Barkley, E. F. & Major, C. H. (2016). Learning Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Grose, A. W. (2017). Internships, Integrative Learning and the Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) (Occasional Paper #30). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).
Hauhart, R. C. & Grahe, J. E. (2014). Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Huber, M. T. & Hutchings, P. (2004). Integrative Learning: Mapping the Terrain. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).
Hutchings, P. (2016). Aligning Educational Outcomes and Practices (Occasional Paper #26). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).
Kelly, R. (2009). Capstone Courses Prepare Students for Transition to Working World. Faculty Focus.
Kinzie, J. (2013). Taking Stock of Capstones and Integrative Learning. AAC&U Peer Review. 15 (4).
Weimer, M. (2013). Capstone Courses Vary in Terms of Goals, Objectives, Structures and Assignments. Faculty Focus.