8 October 2019 Peter Smith

Thinking about capstone courses

What should a capstone course do? Perhaps more fundamentally, what is a capstone course?

I the second question comes from a number of my academic colleagues, and others outside of academe (but who, nevertheless, have a lot to do with the recruitment of graduates). I can't pretend I know enough of the literature to answer either of those questions (yet)?

But so far, it seems that there are three types of capstones. As I note in /journal/2019/10/07/of-mountaintops-magnets-and-mandates/, a capstone may be some kind of interdisciplinary culmination experience (a mountaintop), an opportunity to dive in deeply to some—already known—topic (a magnet), or it can be as a way to verify/assure that specific outcomes have been met for the purpose of accreditation (a mandate).

Regardless, as editors of Assessment Update (2004), Karen E. Black and Stephen P. Hundley note:

> Through capstone courses, students take that second look at their own > learning throughout their college experiences, and during the course > of this look provide invaluable information to faculty about the > quality of instruction and of programs.

This suggest that we need to specifically attend to the feedback from capstone courses in a way that different to regular course reviews by students. The when we seek feedback from a capstone course can (should?) be especially framed to obtain programme-level feedback.