Curriculum Corner: Capstone is vital

Curriculum Corner: Capstone is vital

by Murphy Waggoner

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines a capstone as a high point or a crowning achievement. Educators say the capstone is an opportunity to synthesize the content and skills you have learned up to that point. Prospective employers regard the capstone as the place where the student becomes a beginning practitioner in the field.

No matter how you describe it, the Capstone Experience at Simpson allows you to take what you learned in the major and combine it with the skills and concepts from general education courses and to see what happens when you put it all together.

We call the capstone an experience instead of a course, because many times it is goes far beyond the traditional faculty-led lecture course. In sports administration a student completes a final internship working in the field among other administrators. A future teacher will spend his final semester teaching in the classroom.

A chemistry or biology student might take a seminar where she reads journal articles written by experts in her field, learning about current research and how it’s done. Musicians and artists finish their Simpson career by giving performances or exhibitions of their work. These are all capstone experiences.

Just as every discipline and career is different, capstone experiences can be very different. Language students spend time abroad and reflect on how those experiences will shape their lives. Many students will complete undergraduate research projects, putting their critical thinking and writing skills to use to push the boundaries of what they know of their major.

Some capstones actually are courses, like Historiography, but these courses provide major-specific culminating experiences through semester-long projects.

Capstones are not new to Simpson, and you can see they are just one of the many ways we provide experiential learning.

If you are not a senior, come see your friends on April 14 when we celebrate the crowning achievements of our seniors on Honors Day. Then you can see for yourself how they “put it all together” in their Simpson Capstone Experiences.