Dr Bet Roffey suggested that a capstone topic:

  • is a final year/semester/sequence topic
  • helps students integrate prior knowledge and learning
  • promotes course coherence and relevance
  • further develops student communication skills
  • gives support for graduate career plans
  • synthesises student prior learning
  • enhances student career preparation
  • meets graduate's university-work transition needs

She recommends the following potential teaching approaches:

  • problem-based learning/case studies
  • extended problem analysis frameworks
  • 'real-world' situations (the 'living case method')
  • role plays, modelling
  • hypotheticals
  • industry links: action/reflection strategies

and indicated the following expected learning outcomes:

  • increased appreciation of complex, competing issues in graduate jobs
  • extended analytical skills
  • capacity to link theory and practice
  • improved career networking capabilities
  • refined communication skills (written, oral, interpersonal, professional presentations)
  • employment-related teamwork skills

Dr Roffey indicates that undergraduate 'capstone' topics

  • Are also used in other final year undergraduate topics in the same discipline
  • Assumes common prior learning, topics (not necessarily sequential)
  • Based on similar principles, techniques
  • May have more lecture input
  • Variation in assessment methods, weightings
  • Industry/professional links important during topic.

It is important to consider how ‘capstone' topics might fit into your area. Some questions to consider if developing a ‘capstone' topic are:

  • What types of work do graduates seek?
  • What knowledge, skills do you expect them to acquire during their degree?
  • What topic sequences might lend themselves to a 'capstone' topic approach?
  • Can 'capstone' principles be integrated into an existing topic?
  • If already done, what topic design, teaching techniques, assessment methods are used?
  • How might you benefit from others' experience in 'capstone' topic design and delivery?

Addressing the following questions may aid in avoiding difficulties in implementing capstone topics

  • What specific challenges might you face in implementing capstone topic principles in your academic discipline area?
  • What are some ways these challenges might be overcome?