Senior Capstone Project – 8174

Senior Capstone Project – 8174


This capstone project is designed to be a culminating experience for students in the Center for Education and Human Development.  The curriculum and instruction taught through the center emphasizes 21st century skills, and this project is designed for students to showcase their accumulation of these skills through a project of their choosing.  The capstone project has an intense research component as well as providing students with an opportunity for personal discovery and self education.  This project begins with having the students read the book Drive by Daniel Pink.  The book outlines the success of individuals and companies that pursue careers and projects that were based on intrinsic motivation as opposed to extrinsic motivation.  The class has thought provoking discussions and debates about the value of the American education system and how it is structured primarily to be rooted in extrinsic motivation.  The students express that deeper learning occurs when they are able to pursue specific areas of interest to them.  They think intrinsic education needs to be built into the education system.  Through this lens, the Capstone Project is introduced in which each student puts forth a proposal of a topic and essential question that they want to investigate.  Students are required to conduct research on their topic (including primary fieldwork in which they interview experts in their chosen field) and submit an annotated bibliography, a literature review, and a final 10-15 page paper.  In addition to the research, students are required to create a real world “project” that presents their findings to the class and the underclassmen in the specialty center.  These projects act similar to a dissertation defense in which they present their findings and discuss solutions to the problems they have decided to focus on.  Furthermore, students keep a portfolio of their work throughout the entire process on a blog.  Each student designs their own blog in which they post potential avenues of research, journal entries of progress, action plans for accomplishing tasks, and annotated artifacts.

TIPC Ratings

Ideal/Target: This project stresses the importance of designing a researchable essential question to a real world problem.  The students must define a challenge they want to address and they create research questions and continue to evaluate them throughout the entire project.  As students research, they are constantly being asked to synthesize the information and evaluate the relevance to their Capstone project by posting annotated artifacts to their blogs.  Students are exposed to a variety of ways to organize their research through the annotated bibliography, literature review, and elevator pitches.  Students are given choice in how they ultimately showcase their research through their reflection on blog posts and ultimately their final presentation.

Ideal/Target:  The entire purpose of this project is to communicate a solution or theory about a real world problem.  Although primarily an individual project, students are presented with a variety of opportunities to provide feedback to peers on essential questions, peer editing of papers, and the defense of the elevator pitch.  Many of these interactions occur face to face and through googledoc responses.  In addition, the students conduct fieldwork research by interviewing experts in their respective fields.

Ideal/Target: The design of the project asks students to research a problem and design a solution to that problem.  It is obvious to see the variety of problems students chose to address through this assignment while viewing the proposals.  Problems include the health of disabled children in Africa, childhood obesity, designing an effective ACL prevention program, teaching students in poverty, and the impact of social media on social relationships.  These topics allow students to develop research questions and critically think on how these issues could be resolved or improved.  During the Capstone literature review, students critically thinking about how experts answer their essential question.  While critically thinking about the research literature, students create their own thesis for how their question can be answered.  In addition, there is a significant reflection piece to this project as students reflect weekly on their progress and the overall topic.  Students critically think about the realistic impact they have on the different issues.  During the peer review process and elevator pitch, students also critically question the different projects and offer suggestions for improvement and direction.

Ideal/Target: This project fosters individual creativity and innovation in a variety of ways.  First, students have choice in determining the problem or challenge they want to investigate.  Second, students have also taken the project portion of this assignment to implement their research into a product.  A good example is this student blog.  The student is addressing the essential question “How do you motivate orchestra students to practice their music?”  This student is writing and conducting 3 different songs for the spring orchestra concert at Glen Allen High School.  Writing music and conducting music go beyond the scope of this project, however she is taking the research and applying it to real life.

Student Artifact


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