The Capstone Course
Robert C. Moore Elizabethtown College
The capstone course is an opportunity for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the goals for learning established by their educational institution and major department. The course should be designed to assess cognitive, affective, and psychomotor learning and to do so in a studentcentered and student-directed manner that requires the command, analysis, and synthesis of knowledge and skills. The capstone course described in this chapter integrates learning from the courses in the major with the courses from the rest of the academic experience. It is a multifaceted course that requires the application of knowledge to course requirements that serve as instruments of evaluation in all three modalities of learning. The course fosters interdisciplinary partnerships among university departments and helps cultivate industry alliances and cooperation. The chapter outlines a rationale for the capstone course and a review of the course design that involves four different capstone experiences.
In examining a basis for the existence of a capstone experience, the literature in the field of education, specifically curriculum and instruction, provides some direction. From a wide variety of definitions for curriculum, one definition seems particularly useful because it specifies the elements of curriculum:
A curriculum usually contains a statement of aims and of specific objectives; it indicates some selection and organization of content; it either implies or manifests certain patterns of learning and teaching, whether because the objectives demand them or because the content organization requires them.