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ACOM 4300 “Senior Capstone Project” Course Learning Outcomes

Course Big Questions

Course Goals

The senior capstone project course is designed to provide students an opportunity to integrate the knowledge and skills that have been gained from their major courses to the experiences from their personal lives. Specifically, the writing and presentation required should tap the knowledge, analytic abilities, writing and presentation skills, and insights students have acquired through study, observation, and involvement in the communication field. Intended Learning Outcomes

By completing the senior capstone project, students will demonstrate their abilities to:

• Analyze messages; • Develop messages; • Anticipate communication barriers; • Collaborate with others to accomplish communicative goals; • Embrace difference; and • Influence discourse.

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capstone project course outcomes

Capstone Project Learning Outcomes

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At the completion of the course, the students must demonstrate to attain the following Course Learning Outcomes and Students Outcomes.

Course Learning Outcomes:

Student Outcomes:

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Eastern Mediterranean University

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Assessment and Curriculum Support Center

Develop a capstone.

The first half of this document defines and discusses the capstone experience. The latter half covers  using capstones for program assessment .

The Capstone Experience

The capstone experience is a culminating set of experiences that “captivate, encapsulate, synthesize, and demonstrate learning.”  [1]

Keys to the Capstone

Frameworks for a Capstone Experience

There are four common frameworks for capstones (see  Rowles, et al .). Programs typically choose one as the primary framework based on their program’s needs. If/when appropriate, the other frameworks may also be incorporated or acknowledged.

Options for Courses/Activities within the Capstone Experience

A capstone experience can consist of one or a combination of these:

Pedagogic Practices for Capstone Experiences

Professors typically use some of the following teaching strategies and methods in capstone experiences:

“ Collaborative learning  is an umbrella term for a variety of educational approaches involving joint intellectual effort by students, or students and teachers together. Usually, students are working in groups of two or more, mutually searching for understanding, solutions, or meanings, or creating a product. . . Most center on students’ exploration or application of course material, not simply the teacher’s presentation or explication of it. Collaborative learning represents a significant shift away from the typical teacher-centered or lecture-centered milieu in college classrooms.”  Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook for Higher Education  (1992) by Anne S. Goodsell, et al., National Center on Postsecondary Teaching. Available thru interlibrary loan from UH Hilo, LB1032.C65.1992.

Faculty members give students choices about their learning as well as responsibility for the consequences associated with those choices. The faculty member (or internship supervisor, co-op employer, etc.) establishes the necessary structures to guide and support students while still leaving the students to do such things as establish goals, create timelines, monitor progress, develop products for evaluation, etc.

Faculty members give students an ill-defined task to complete or an open-ended problem to solve. The faculty member acts as a mentor, coach, and/or facilitator. Often the task/problem mirrors an actual, discipline-based task/problem but it has been simplified or structured to match the level of the students.

Discussion Questions for Faculty Members as They Consider a Program Capstone Experience

  Using a Capstone Experience for Program Assessment

When using a capstone experience for program assessment, the standard assessment loop is followed: establish outcomes, create learning opportunities, undertake an assessment process, interpret assessment results, and create and implement an action plan for improvement.

Establish Student Learning Outcomes & Determine Learning Opportunities

Assessment Process: Collecting and Evaluating/Analyzing Evidence

The assessment process should lead to a discussion of the program as a whole—not only a discussion of the capstone experience.

The program typically builds evidence-generating, -collecting, and -evaluating mechanisms into the capstone experience.

Collection of Evidence: Student Learning

When designing the capstone experience, programs build in assignments/activities that can shed light on the SLOs and relevant general education outcomes. The assignments/activities serve as evidence of student achievement. Students can complete them over time [ How to develop portfolios ] or in a single, culminating course.

Examples of assignments/activities:

Evaluation of Evidence of Student Learning

Most capstone experiences include a senior-level course. The course instructor can assist the students in preparing evidence for evaluation.

Collection of Evidence: Student Perceptions

Evaluation of Evidence of Student Perception

Assessment Results

The goal of assessment is to provide the program with information it can use to be self-reflective and self-improving. Presenting the results does not need to be complicated. A simple, straightforward presentation of who, what, where, when, and how often suffices. [ How to report results ] Discussion of the results should focus on the SLO(s) and the program, not on individuals.

Action Plan for Improvement

Programs use assessment results to guide program decision making and improve their effectiveness. By periodically discussing assessment results and procedures, faculty can plan and implement improvements to the capstone experience. The focus should be on the program and the learning opportunities (e.g., activities throughout the program, all required courses, etc.), not on individuals.

Assessment: Rubric & Checklist

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) created a rubric to assess programs that use the capstone experience as the basis for program assessment. Programs can use the  WASC rubric  to self-assess their progress. Below is a checklist based on the WASC rubric.

Checklist . The program has:

Learning Objectives of a Capstone Course Report


A capstone course is one that “seeks to provide a cumulative experience for students enrolled in a degree program”. The students undertaking the capstone course are expected to apply the knowledge acquired from a degree program in a real-life work situation. The courses are normally undertaken in the final year of college or university program. Capstone course has always been done through internships, individual reports, and seminars. Thus the program provides a framework for assessing the student’s ability to apply what has been taught in class. For the course to be effective, its objectives must be clearly defined and relevant to the learning and assessment needs of the students. This paper thus focuses on the objectives of the capstone courses and how they can be presented in a syllabus.

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Learning Objectives of a Capstone Course

Integration of knowledge.

The main objective of a capstone course is to enable the students to integrate the knowledge gained as a result of pursuing a given degree program in college or university. The course should enable the students to integrate the skills and concepts learned systematically during their stay at the university. This means that the course content will focus on refreshing the student’s memory on what he or she was taught in class. This helps them to remember the entire content of the degree program and its application.

The students should be able to integrate all aspects of the course which includes the theory, practical skills, and communication skills. They should be in a position to combine the diverse skills acquired in class and apply them in a work environment. This is based on the fact that the ultimate objective of the pursued course is to enable the students to transfer or apply their skills to the challenging work environment. The capstone program thus acts as a self-assessment mechanism that reminds the students of the expected learning outcomes. Besides, it allows them to evaluate the degree to which they have achieved the learning outcomes.

Professional Level Performance

Having completed a particular course, the students should not only be able to apply the course content to real-life work situations but should be able to do so in a professional manner. The capstone course should, therefore, focus on helping students to perfect their technical skills in handling a given task. This requires the students to have hands-on experience in their respective fields of specialization. To achieve this objective, many capstone courses include an internship program.

The students are expected to find a business or an organization whose core activities are relevant to the pursued course. The student is then expected to work in the organization for a definite period to demonstrate his or her skills as well as to improve or learn new skills. The internship experience also helps the students to improve their communication skills by interacting with the management of the organizations they work for at different levels. The student should thus be able to perform at the level of a professional at the end of the internship or field experience.

Depth of Knowledge

The capstone course acts as a basis for determining the amount of information the student has retained and how well such information has been understood. The objective of the course, in this case, is to ensure that students have fully understood the topics taught in class. Consequently, most capstone courses include a teaching session whereby the students are expected to tutor underclassmen for a given number of hours. This enables the professor to evaluate the students’ understanding of the topic. Students who can demonstrate a full understanding of various topics are considered successful. However, those who are not able to demonstrate a clear understanding of various topics may be required to take more study hours to improve their knowledge.

Pursuing a Career

Other than helping students to integrate skills and concepts taught in class, the capstone course also offers training on career development. The course aims at equipping the students with skills that help them to “create working resumes, develop professional interview skills and how to develop a successful career”. Upon successful completion of the capstone course, the students should be able to consider all aspects of their knowledge and portray their abilities to potential employers.

How to Present the Objectives in a Syllabus

The overall learning objectives of the capstone course should be informed by the learning goals of a department. This means that the syllabus of the capstone course should incorporate the learning goals and objectives of the programs pursued by the students. The syllabus should focus on the use of direct assessments instead of indirect ones to capture the real potential of students. Standard examinations should be offered due to the following reasons. First, when using nationally acknowledged exams, interdepartmental or interuniversity comparison of students’ performance can be done with the aid of percentiles. Second, standard exams are informative and will thus allow the professor to use sub-scores to evaluate different skills. Finally, the tests should be flexible enough to incorporate questions submitted by departments.

Role of the Syllabus in Presenting the Objectives

The syllabus acts as a contract that defines the relationship or association of the instructors and their students. It specifies what the students expect during the semester and also guides the behavior of the students and the instructors. Thus the syllabus will define the responsibilities of the learners as well as the instructors in the learning and assessment process. For the syllabus to be effective in presenting the objectives of the capstone course, its content should include the following.

First, it should have a clear and accurate calendar that specifies the time needed to complete the course. Besides, the calendar should indicate the activities the students are expected to perform or task to be completed within a particular period. For example, it should indicate when exams are to be done or the due dates of assignments. Second, the syllabus should address the policies which have impacts on students. Such policies include the assessment criteria and their contribution to the final grade. For example, if practical skills will account for a greater percentage in the final grade, the students will be expected to excel in the internship programs.

The syllabus should address policies concerning the learners’ academic freedom. Since most capstone courses involve practical experiences in an actual work environment, the students should be aware of the level of freedom granted to them. This will not only help them to maintain ethical standards but will also help them to focus on the academic aspect of their field experience. In a class environment, students should respect the rights of their colleagues to air their opinions regarding course topics to enhance better understanding.

Third, the syllabus being a contract will include a disclaimer. This means that it will specify what the students expect to achieve at the end of the course. Apart from this, the syllabus should indicate what the students will not be able to do with the knowledge gained from the course. For example, a capstone course for an engineering program may enable a student to operate a machine but may not enable him or her to design and develop similar machines.

Thus the expected achievements and the limitations of the course have to be specified and this forms the basis for evaluating the success of the course. Finally, it should indicate the rights and responsibilities of disabled students. Due to physical disabilities, some students might not be able to engage in field experiences or internship programs for a long period. The syllabus must thus indicate alternative learning and assessment methods that will be used to accommodate the disabled students. This will help in ensuring that the objectives of the course are achieved uniformly.

Permanent Record

The syllabus acts as a permanent record of what was taught in the course. As a permanent record, the syllabus helps in stating and achieving the objectives of the capstone course in the following ways. First, the syllabus promotes accountability on the part of the instructor and the students. Thus the instructor will set achievable course objectives, given the available resources and the abilities of the students. Once such objectives have been set, the instructor and the students will strive to achieve them. Second, it encourages documentation of the course achievements. This acts as a basis for evaluating the course and planning for the future.

Learning Tool

Due to the increase in online degree programs and the use of the internet in learning, most students are not able to interact with their professors on a face to face basis. Thus in the absence of the instructor, the syllabus will act as a guide that will enable the learner to achieve the course objectives.

The above discussion indicates that a capstone course aims at helping students to integrate the knowledge acquired throughout their stay in an institution of higher education. Apart from the classwork, the course also involves filed experience or internship. The assessment of the course focuses on the students’ ability to remember the content of the pursued course and their ability to apply the acquired knowledge in a work environment. As discussed above, the syllabus acts as a guide and enables the learners and the instructors to achieve the objectives of the capstone course.

Works Cited

Barns, Cathleen. “The Evolution of a Graduate capstone Accounting Course.” Journal of Accounting Education 24 (2006): 118-133.

Goldberg, Jay. Capstone design courses: producing industry ready biomedical engineers. London: Morgan and Claypool Publishers, 2007. Print.

Gruenther, Kristen, Reid Bailey and Jennifer Wilson. “The Influence of Prior Industry Experience and Multidisciplinary Teamwork on Student Design Learning in Capstone Design Course.” Design Studies 30(2009): 721-736.

Hall, Charles, Gary Fairchild and Gregory Baker. “Agribusiness Capstone Courses Design: Objectives and Strategies.” International Food and Agribusiness Management Review 6(2003): 346-380.

Lilly, Gregory and Thomas Tiemann. “On the Struggel to Attain Universal Competence in a Complex Skill: the Case of Senior Capstone Experience.” Design Studies 6(2008): 212-230.

Oehrtman, Sandra, Dianne Smolen and Karen Hoblet. “The Comprehensive Examination: Viable Mater’s of Science in Capstone Course.” Journal of Professioanl Nursing 36(2010): 360-365.

Parkes, Jay and Mary Harris. “The Purspose of a Syllabus.” Collage Teaching 50(2002): 55-62.

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capstone project course outcomes

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The Capstone Experience

Capstone experience integrates coursework, knowledge, skills and experiential learning to enable the student to demonstrate a broad mastery of learning across the curriculum for further career advancement.

The capstone experience enables students to:

Capstone experiences include but are not limited to

Capstone experience can be implemented as a capstone course or as capstone experience that is spread out in several courses in a degree program.

Capstone experience typically involves:

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