How to Write a Capstone Project
Nearing your high school or university graduation? You must have heard the term ‘Capstone project’ being thrown around. A Capstone project is not your average project. While you may feel a sense of futility while doing the rest of your assignments, you won’t be getting that feeling when you do your Capstone project. This is because the Capstone project will be like a recapitulation of whatever you have learnt throughout your academic coursework. It gives you an opportunity to approach practical questions related to your subject of specialisation.
In this blog, we have provided a detailed insight into the intricacies involved in writing a Capstone project. Keep reading for a detailed insight.
What is a Capstone Project?
The glossary of Educational reform defines it as “a multi-faceted project that serves as a culminating academic and intellectual experience for students."
The philosophy behind the term Capstone is quite interesting as well. A Capstone, in architectural terms, is the final stone that is laid right on top of a concrete structure to symbolise its completion. Similarly, the Capstone project is the final test that marks the completion of your academic coursework.
A Capstone project (also referred to as culminating project/ Capstone experience / senior exhibition) is assigned to you during your final year of high school or graduation. Some colleges do not give you the degree of specialisation unless and until you submit the Capstone project.
Many students confuse it with a dissertation or research paper due to the striking similarity of its basic element. However, it is vastly different from the approach you take to compose a research paper. The Capstone project will demand you to give an elaborate depiction of your entire academic experience rather than just presenting your research and viewpoints on a particular topic.
Significance of the Capstone project in your academic career
Capstone project demands you to address real-life problems so that you can find out suitable solutions for them. It also exposes you to the latest trends in your field. To prepare a winning project, you will be required to conduct thorough research and come up with the most suitable solution to your problem. This project will teach you to think critically and analyse the concerned problem from varied perspectives, so that you can view it objectively. It plays a significant role in boosting your critical reasoning and problem-solving skills.
Capstone projects are mostly assigned to students who have taken up subjects such as public administration, social services, liberal arts and mass communication. As these courses are vocation-oriented, the professors assign you a Capstone project to evaluate your ability to apply the theory to practical situations.
What are the different types of Capstone Projects?
The type and form of Capstone projects vary as per the guidelines of your school or university. It may involve a literature review, an environmental scan, development of a financial model or analysis of a nursing report. Some of the common types of Capstone projects include the following:
- Externally-oriented projects
This is one of the most common types of Capstone project you are assigned in colleges. Here, the students are involved in a professional project where they need to develop unique solutions to a client’s problem. You will be required to gather information, undertake analysis, make decisions to manage the workflow efficiently.
- Academic enquiry projects
This type of Capstone project is very similar to that of a research apprenticeship project of an honours program. It involves a series of field visits, extensive research, analysis of information and incorporating it into a well-knit argument.
- Practice-oriented simulations
Practice-oriented simulations are found in almost every academic discipline and are most common in science, media and business fields. These types of projects bring the students face to face with the challenges and problems of a professional work environment. These Capstones are holistic and involve planning and management of daily activity of various events.
- Practice-based consultancies
These are mostly used in the design, business fields and professional health disciplines. Like the previous one, this Capstone also brings the students face to face with the pressure, challenges and problems of the work environment.
- Task-oriented simulations
These are paper-based online simulations that do not directly introduce the students to a professional work environment but involves a set of defined activities. These Capstones are most common in business related disciplines. It allows the students to develop a wide range of skills by testing them with complex tasks.
These projects are designed to evaluate the student’s understanding of their academic coursework. To secure an A+ mark sheet, you have to use your academic knowledge and critical skills to solve problems distinct to your disciplines.
Steps to Prepare a Stellar Capstone Project
Irrespective of the form of the Capstone project you have been assigned, any type of Capstone will involve some basic steps.
Follow these steps to draft a Capstone that will add a feather in your cap.
Step #1: Choose a topic
Whether you have been asked to write an assignment or make an ad film, picking a suitable topic becomes essential. Experts suggest you not to choose complex topics or ideas that are too hard to fathom.
Instead, you should choose topics that focus on real-life situations and one that involves the application of a specific principle that you learned during your course.
Step #2: Submit your proposal
Once you select a topic, you have to draft the proposal and submit it to your supervisor. Yes, much like the thesis or the dissertation, you will need the supervisor’s advice for your Capstone project as well. Your proposal should be nearly 40 pages long, and must introduce the topic in a way that it grabs the attention of the readers. You need to state the pre-existing theories on your topic as well as give your own hypothesis of the problem. The proposal must include a literature review and methodology.
Once the supervisor accepts your proposal, you must immediately begin your research. It can be a library-based research where you go through a series of literature and theories. It might also involve outdoor field visits. In any case, you must keep in mind that the project will demand dedication and meticulous research work.
Tips and Tricks to Finish Your Project on Time
In the last section of this blog, we will present to you a handful of tips and tricks that can help you with your Capstone project. Let us take a look at these handy hacks.
- Learn to manage your time
A Capstone project, as you know, is a long-term one. This is why you need to manage your time wisely. Break the workload into manageable sections and devote small portions of your time to it each day. Do not, in any case, try to finish it at the last moment. It will be a sure shot recipe for disaster and can have a serious negative impact on your career. This is why it will be crucial to set realistic deadlines for yourself.
- Be careful with the research material you use
Do not use Wikipedia as a trustworthy source for your Capstone project. The same goes for eHow and other such pop sites. Experts suggest you to use websites like JSTOR and Academic Search Premier to gather information for your research. The library of your school/university is also a great place to research. If you are stuck or confused, you can always take your librarian’s help.
- Coordinate with your supervisor/advisor regularly
It is not unlikely for students to get stuck with their academic papers. Instead of procrastinating, discuss the problem with your supervisor/advisor as soon as possible. Remember, it’s always good to seek advice and guidance at the initial stages than later as it can get too late to change things. Besides, if you do not communicate with your facilitator at all, the chances are that you may end up making more mistakes.
- Do not forget to focus on the content
Undoubtedly, it is essential to pay attention to the presentation of your paper, but the presentation is not the only thing you should focus on. The content you present is even more important than its presentation. While writing, make sure you check your argument and make sure the paper answers vital questions such as-
- Does your content agree with your chosen topic?
- Does your content follow a logical progression of thoughts?
- Did you include methodologies, literature review, recommendations and bibliography?
If you can positively answer all of the above questions, then it means your content is well-written and won’t need many changes.
- Plan and practice for an oral presentation
There is a possibility that you might be asked to give an oral presentation for your Capstone project. Plan, prepare and practice beforehand to crack the presentation like a pro. These practice sessions will help you to polish your oral presentation skills and give you the confidence to answers any question that comes in your way.
Writing your Capstone project is going to be a memorable experience for you. Instead of sulking, make sure you enjoy it as you progress. This once in a lifetime academic task holds real importance when it comes to your career. Present your project professionally and keep the entire thing interesting so that your audience is hooked from the very first word. Most importantly, keep things simple, and you’ll find yourself sailing smoothly on the sea of Capstone project.
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