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This multifaceted assignment is a culmination of an academic and intellectual experience for students. It is also referred to as a capstone experience, culminating project or senior exhibition. It happens during the final year of school or at the end of an academic program. Capstone project takes a wide variety of forms. However, most of them are investigative projects that take some time and culminate in a final project, presentation, or performance. For instance, a student may be required to select a topic, profession, or social problem that piques their interest. They go ahead to research the subject, maintain a portfolio of findings and results, create a find product that demonstrates their learning experience or conclusions. This can be in form of a paper, a short film, or multimedia presentation. They can also give oral presentations to a panel of teachers, experts, and community members who make a collective evaluation of its quality.
With capstone projects, the student is able to think critically, solve serious problems and develop oral communication skills, public speaking, research skills, media, literacy, planning, teamwork, goal setting, self-sufficiency and so on. Al these skills are essential for a student who is about to join college, adult life of a modern career.
At times, the subjects are interdisciplinary, implying that students must apply their investigative skills across many different areas or domains of knowledge. The students are also encouraged to connect their projects to community issues as well as integrating outside classroom experiences. This can be activities like interviews, scientific observations, or internships.
Capstone projects can take different forms depending on the school in question. These examples give an illustration of both the concept and the general educational intentions
- Writing, directing and shooting a public service announcement to be aired on a public access television
- Designing and building a product, an app, a robot or a computer program to help in addressing a specific need
- Internship at a non-profit organization or a legislators office with the aim of learning more about hew strategies and policies meant to deal with social problems like hunger poverty or homelessness
- Conducting a scientific research for a given period to determine the ecological or environmental impact of changes to a local habitat
- Research an industry market and coming up with a viable business plan for the proposed company, which is then presented to a [panel of local business leaders.
Capstone project as a school reform strategy
When used as a reform strategy, it becomes an extension of more systemic school improvement models or specific teaching philosophies. This can include community-based learning, proficiency-based learning, project-based learning or even student-centered learning. The coals of such capstone projects include the following:
- Increasing the academic rigor of the final and senior year
High school students face lighter duties or course load and sometimes they leave school early. This can contribute to learning loss or inadequate preparation for the first year of college. If the senior year is more intellectually and academically challenging, but full of fascinating learning experiences like a capstone project, it can reduce the senior year learning loss. If the students are kept longer in school through learning engagements, they increase the preparation for the first year of college and the work that awaits them there.
- It increases the motivation and engagement of the student
Capstone projects are creative in nature and in most cases, the students based on their interests select them. They can strengthen; motivate the student to learn especially during a time when academic motivation and engagement tend to decrease.
- Increases the student’s career and educational aspirations
Long-term projects will definitely intersect with the student’s personal interests and career aspirations. Capstone projects assist the students in future planning, goal setting, and post-high school decisions as well as career explorations. This applies especially to students who are not focused, are uncertain or indecisive when it comes to their post-graduation plans and ambitions.
- The self-perceptions and confidence
Capstone projects demand the student to take up new responsibilities, becomes more self-directed, have goals and stick to commitments. If one completes such assignments, they raise their self-esteem, build their confidence, and stress to the student the value of achievements. Students can also become role models for other students, thereby cultivating leadership abilities as well as cultural effects within a school.
- Demonstrates learning and proficiency
When used as a demonstration of learning, capstone projects can determine a student’s proficiency in knowledge and skills acquisition or readiness for college tasks, As such the student is required to demonstrate what they have learned over the course of the entire project.
Capstone projects in graduate schools
Most of the master's programs, if not all, either require students to write a thesis or complete a capstone project. These projects vary from one institution to the other since they are more experiential where students apply what they have learned in the course of their graduate programs in that project.
- Requirements for a capstone project
Before completing a capstone project, you must undertake a series of undergraduate or graduate courses to provide theoretical and skill-based knowledge that is necessary to formulate an idea for your capstone proposal. Classes are taken prior to the start of the capstone project use research statistics, ethics, program theories leadership and other relevant courses that hinge on a master’s program. Some of them have also the GPA requirement before one can complete a capstone course.
- Capstone proposals
There is a requirement for a comprehensive capstone proposal that happens before a student can begin a capstone course necessary for the implementation of their capstone project. The proposal must be reviewed by the instructor and must contain an introduction, theories, hypothesis, scholarly literature review, research methods, proposal alternatives, and any other relevant issue that relates to the project proposal. every capstone project relates to the student’s program, and as such, it becomes unique. It is important for the student to consult with the program advisor to ensure that the capstone proposal meets the necessary requirements.
- Types of capstone projects
Capstone projects come in different forms they include the following
- Case studies
- Program evaluations
- Outcome-based evaluations
- Focus groups
Each master’s program has its own capstone projects that a student must complete before they graduate. However, the most popular forms of capstone projects include the program evaluations and case studies.
Capstone project duration
This may vary depending on the institution b8ut mostly capstone projects take more than ten weeks to as long as two semesters. This depends on the rigor and requirements of the assignments of the graduate program. In most cases, the student will only be required to take a project that will largely last within a semester. If you are a student currently pursuing a graduate program. It is better for you to start formulating an idea for your capstone project as of now. Refrain from starting at the last minute as that can derail your capstone project and graduation in general. You need to have an adequate amount of previous research for you to complete a capstone project proposal.
- Programs that require capstone projects
In most cases, it is common for master’s program in social services, public administration, mass communications, and liberal arts to undertake a capstone project. The reason is that these programs are geared towards working professionals. With capstone projects, students are able to use their ability to understand knowledge and theory in the real-world application.
Reasons why schools assign capstone projects
Capstone projects will display your educational accomplishments, but they are more focused on the demonstration of your abilities to learn. They encourage the student to apply their critical thinking skills acquired from their degree programs and solve problems.
They also want students to develop their public speaking skills. When you write proficiently, it positively affects the assignments because the presentation comes with an assortment or details that you took to arrive at your conclusion.
If you are nearing the homestretch of your undergraduate or postgraduate program, you could have heard your advisor talking about a capstone project. This is a very crucial project that you can undertake and take your skills to the next level. As you have seen earlier, capstone projects also apply in the context of high school education. It is like a thesis only that it results in a report or a product, or even a presentation or performance. A good application of the theory and practical experience, it is possible to come up with a unique capstone project. It serves as a perfect opportunity to the instructor what you are capable of.
The traditional meaning of a ‘capstone’ is the ‘crowning’, which is a protective stone is laid on top of an exterior wall. When this definition is applied in the context of education, it portrays the capstone experiences as the final crowning moment of your academic career. A capstone project now becomes that academic stone, on the outside wall that is seen by everybody. It shows that you have managed to complete a monumental task of earning your degree.