Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses
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More About This Title Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses


Enrich your students and the institution with a high-impact practice

Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses is a practical, research-backed guide to creating a course that is valuable for both the student and the school. The book covers the design, administration, and teaching of capstone courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum, guiding departments seeking to add a capstone course, and allowing those who have one to compare it to others in the discipline. The ideas presented in the book are supported by regional and national surveys that help the reader understand what's common, what's exceptional, what works, and what doesn't within capstone courses. The authors also provide additional information specific to different departments across the curriculum, including STEM, social sciences, humanities, fine arts, education, and professional programs.

Identified as a high-impact practice by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities' LEAP initiative, capstone courses culminate a student's final college years in a project that integrates and applies what they've learned. The project takes the form of a research paper, a performance, a portfolio, or an exhibit, and is intended to showcase the student's very best work as a graduating senior. This book is a guide to creating for your school or department a capstone course that ties together undergraduate learning in a way that enriches the student and adds value to the college experience.

  • Understand what makes capstone courses valuable for graduating students
  • Discover the factors that make a capstone course effective, and compare existing programs, both within academic disciplines and across institutions
  • Learn administrative and pedagogical techniques that increase the course's success
  • Examine discipline-specific considerations for design, administration, and instruction

Capstones are generally offered in departmental programs, but are becoming increasingly common in general education as well. Faculty and administrators looking to add a capstone course or revive an existing one need to understand what constitutes an effective program. Designing and Teaching Undergraduate Capstone Courses provides an easily digested summary of existing research, and offers expert guidance on making your capstone course successful.


ROBERT C. HAUHART is a professor and former chair of the Department of Society and Social Justice for Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Washington.

JON E. GRAHE is a professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University, western regional vice president of Psi Chi, and an executive editor of the Journal of Social Psychology.


Preface: The Importance of Senior Capstones in Contemporary American Higher Education ix

The Authors xxi

Acknowledgments xxiii

1 Overview of the Capstone Course 1

2 The Role of the Capstone Course in the Curriculum 15

3 Characteristics of the Capstone Course 39

4 The Role and Design of Research Projects Leading to the Capstone Experience 61

5 Research Project Impediments and Possibilities 89

6 Designing the Capstone Course 103

7 Teaching the Capstone Course 137

8 Using the Capstone Course for Assessment 167

9 Conclusion: An Ideal Capstone Course 191

Notes 201

References 215

Name Index 239

Subject Index 245