Students of various majors discuss their capstone experiences

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The University of Indianapolis offers more than 100 undergraduate programs, each with its own capstone project. Seniors at UIndy must complete a final project or course at the 400-level that is supposed to encompass what they have learned, while working to complete their major. The capstone for each major differs, often leaving students interested in what students in other majors are required to do.

Business majors apply what they have learned over the years in their capstone by developing a product and working with and against other members of the class for market share. Senior business major Justin Jones took the business capstone course last semester. He said the class is divided up into groups. Within each group, students fill the different departmental roles in a business, according to Jones.

“It’s really like politics working,” he said, “because you have different departments and different group members in charge of all departments, and they have their department’s best interest in mind. But it’s a group collaboration. We try to develop a product that’s going to be profitable and that we can sell in multiple segments of the simulation.”

Jones said that he was in charge of the marketing department he worked to assign a price to the product, find the best place to launch it and look into how much money they should spend on advertising. Jones said he thinks the capstone was a good representation of the business world and was very helpful.

“I think that it does give you insight on the pressure that different companies have on releasing products,” Jones said, “[and] some of the things they go through as far as the inter-business thinking as far as marketing, production, forecasting…. These are things that actually happen in businesses today.”

The communication capstone project is a presentation and portfolio. This semester, senior communication major Katlyn Walker completed the communication capstone course. She said the class is split into two groups, with each group presenting on a different day. Each group was responsible for providing a theme, food, pamphlets and anything else they want to add to entertain a jury that consisted of the communication faculty. Each student in the group has his or her own presentation for which he or she took a previous assignment and revised it, using new information he or she learned. During the presentation, the jury graded the students on their criteria, sources and presentation as well as a forum during which the students answered questions.

After the presentations, the students created online portfolios that they turned in to some of the jury members. Walker said she is happy to end her college career with the capstone because it prepares her for her future.

“You go to classes everyday, and you learn something different. But it’s kind of interesting to have a class where you’re supposed to go back and remember everything that you’ve ever learned,” Walker said. “[I] think Senior Project is the great way to end your college career because then it reassures you that this is all worth it.”

The social work majors’ capstone project is to plan an event, which took the form of a health fair. The health fair was opened up to the students of UIndy along with the community. Seven vendors were included in the health fair, two of which were the Marion County Health Department and UIndy’s health department.

Senior social work major Annabelle Henriquez is currently taking the social work capstone course and said that in the class the students reviewed everything they have learned in college, listened to guest speakers who informed them about their professions and learned how to apply for jobs and to revise their resumes and cover letters. Henriquez believes that the capstone course succeeded in its goal of preparing students for the professional world after graduation.

“The capstone course definitely reiterated the fact that I went with a profession that I loved,” Henriquez said. “I really enjoyed the fact that he [our professor] has professionals come in to talk to us. It just opened my eyes to different avenues and different options that we can do as social workers. We always think of [the] Department of Child Services, but there is so much more out there we can do as social workers.”

Music performance majors must give an hour-long recital before they graduate, although according to senior music performance major Abigail O’Neal, the recital is more of a way to show what you have learned to your friends and family.

“You have to give a hearing about two weeks before your recital, and that’s what you’re actually graded on,” O’Neal said. “It’s two faculty members listening to all of the music that you’re playing and making sure it’s prepared.”

For the senior capstone project in the sociology department, students focus on making a presentation and either finishing a service project that they started their previous semester or starting a new service project. Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice James Pennell said that this semester the students got involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the United States. They also have a presentation section to their capstone that focuses on a career-oriented paper about problems that the students will encounter working in their career. They then share what they have learned through their research in the form of a presentation. According to Pennell, the sociology capstone should demonstrate a student’s ability to make an argument using evidence on social problems or issues.

“It’s a culmination of the different areas they’ve learned,” Pennell said. “They identify some area that they are interested in, and then they have to do a more extended paper than they typically do in other classes. This is something that if they want to go to graduate school, then they can talk about some area that they are really interested in. If they are doing a more career-orientated paper, it helps them understand issues in the career area better, like some of the things that they will be dealing with.”

History majors write a 22-25 page original research paper for their capstone. Senior history and experience design major Austin Baker completed his capstone and said that although students can research whatever interests them, they are encouraged to research something related to Indiana, because the resources are easier to find.

“In the class, we talk about different research techniques,” Baker said. “And also, we read a couple of books and articles that the professor thinks were good examples of how people did research, or unique ways people did research.”

Baker said that they have two presentations in the course: the first over their topic and what they hope to find and the second after they complete their rough draft. He said it was helpful because he has learned how to do research well, which is a big part of the history field.

International relations also has a paper for its capstone project. An international relations major must write an original paper or revise an existing paper of 15-25 pages. Senior international relations, political science and Spanish major Allie Kast is currently taking the class and revising a paper she previously wrote.

“… I’m going back and revisiting a paper I wrote for Political Development,” she said. “And I wrote that one last semester on Spanish immigration policy…. I’m going to make some changes and updates, as things have changed, and hopefully add a little bit to it as well.”

Kast said they do not have a set class time to meet, instead they meet with their professor one-on-one to update him on their progress.

Kast is doing her capstone project for political science this semester. In the political science capstone, students also must write an original paper or revise an existing one that is 20-25 pages long, according to Kast. She said the class meets about once a month on Friday, when it has something due. Kast said she feels like she has improved her research skills through her capstone projects.

“Actually I hope to get my Ph.D. and teach,” Kast said. “So it’s all been great experience to have those … It’s helped me focus on my research skills and abilities. I’ve learned a lot of different research methods through doing so…. So hopefully, I can use all my research skills that I built through all my majors and capstones in the long run, because I know I’ll be writing longer papers for my Ph.D., that’s for sure.”

The language capstone is a combined class for all language majors. Kast, who took the class last semester, said it was taught in English. In the class, students read various pieces of literature, translated into English, and discussed the styles and structures of each of the authors as they related to Spanish, French and German. Kast said that for the project, they had to create a portfolio of the work they had done throughout college.

“So it included a 2-3 page paper that we had written previously, a 5-6 page paper, a research paper and a presentation,” she said. “And we had to compile them all together to present to the language board. And with those as well, we would go back … and we made edits on them and revised them accordingly.”

Within the philosophy capstone there are two courses: Portfolio Development and Portfolio Completion. Senior philosophy major Joseph Krall completed the Portfolio Development course last year and is currently enrolled in the Portfolio Completion course. Krall explained that within the Portfolio Completion course, he had to write two major philosophy papers. These papers could be either based on new topics or expanded from old assignments. Once he completes these papers, he will turn them in for an official review by a panel made up of philosophy faculty. The panel will read the papers and give constructive feedback. Within the class, Krall also had to write a literature review, for which he had to read several articles and summarize how they related to his topics. Krall found the course useful preparation for his future plans.

“This has been a really good experience; going back to papers that I’ve worked on, on say philosophy of music or arguments for God’s existence. Those are the two topics that I covered in my two papers, respectively,” Krall said. “I’m planning to go to seminary in the fall, so this has been really good to get my writing and critical reading skills back in shape.”

Senior pre-art therapy and psychology major Annisa Nunn said her capstone was service-learning based. She said students picked something they were interested in and focused on art therapy.

“So what I did for mine [is] I worked with Dove Recovery House,” Nunn said. “It is an addictions recovery, halfway-house in downtown Indianapolis. And what I did was I planned projects based on the 12 steps of recovery…. The goal was to do 12 different projects, [one] for each step. But we only ended up doing to step eight and we did five projects, because we decided to stop it, because the women there, they were always kind of doing a lot of therapy, so it was just more of a relaxation time and doing art with them…”

Nunn said the students had planned class time but would usually meet every other week or individually with the professor as they needed. Nunn said she thought the capstone was a great volunteer experience and gave her experiences she could use when applying for jobs in this field. She also said that the capstone helped her to realize what she wanted to focus on, which is addictions.

Chemistry majors take a lab class for their capstone. Senior chemistry major David Hollis is currently taking the course. He said the students begin by doing a literature review, but over the course of the semester, they do five labs, each one focusing on a different area of chemistry. The students do a thermodynamics lab, which includes an organic synthesis; an enzyme kinetics lab, which is a part of biochemistry; an instrumental analysis lab; an analytical lab; and a physical chemistry lab.

Hollis said although the class is supposed to last two hours, a lot of the experiments take two or three hours and there is a lot of outside-of-class work, but he does feel prepared.

“I think just having to go through the different kinds of chemistry has prepared me for it [the capstone],” Hollis said. “And then this lab is very difficult. And with writing the lab reports and keeping detailed notes and advanced procedures—all of those things prepare you for future chemical work or grad school or something.”

In biology, students can take one of two paths to complete their capstone, according to Associate Professor and Chair of the Biology Department P. Roger Sweets. Students can either take two credit hours worth of independent research and a one credit hour reflection course or take a three credit hour course that is similar to the research project. Sweets said that in both situations students must write a research paper, present the results to a biology cohort and take the Biology Major Field Test.

With 26 capstone courses listed in the UIndy curriculum guide, these are only some of the many different things students can do to demonstrate what they have learned during their time at UIndy. Students can attend other majors’ capstone project presentations and ask other students questions to better understand what the students in the various majors do.

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