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Article
Publication date: 11 November 2019

Guinevere Gilbert and Dallas Wingrove

Graduate employability represents a fundamental outcome of higher education. The purpose of this paper is to explore and compare students’ perceptions of their…

Abstract

Purpose

Graduate employability represents a fundamental outcome of higher education. The purpose of this paper is to explore and compare students’ perceptions of their employability through their experience of a simulated or real-life project. The context of the project is a capstone course, implemented in an Australian university, which was designed to enhance employability and foster transferable graduate attributes, including professional communication, interpersonal and leadership skills.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors designed and conducted quantitative research to capture and measure students’ perceptions of their employability at the conclusion of a capstone course over three consecutive years from 2015 to 2017.

Findings

The results of this paper show that students undertaking a real-life project which makes a social contribution reported a significantly stronger development of work-ready skills in managing projects than students undertaking a simulation project. Specifically, interaction with industry and leadership were reported to be more developed.

Originality/value

The study contributes to knowledge of the relationship between capstone learning and students’ perceptions of employability. It advances the understanding of capstone course design and pedagogy which strengthens the link between learning and work.

Details

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-3896

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2015

Latif M. Jiji, Irvin Sam Schonfeld and George A. Smith

This paper aims to describe experience gained with a required six-credit year-long course, the Capstone Interdisciplinary Team Project, a key component of the Master of…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to describe experience gained with a required six-credit year-long course, the Capstone Interdisciplinary Team Project, a key component of the Master of Science (MS) in Sustainability degree at the City College of New York. A common feature of sustainability problems is their interdisciplinary nature. Solutions to sustainability problems often require professionals with different training and backgrounds to work as a team. A sustainability curriculum should provide students with the skills needed to competently participate in an interdisciplinary team.

Design/methodology/approach

Instructors drawn from different departments and divisions of the college developed a pool of sustainability-focused Capstone projects and acted as mentors to teams of students with diverse undergraduate backgrounds. Students attended workshops designed to provide training in teamwork, research and report preparation. An independent evaluator designed an evaluation protocol to assess the course’s impact both while it was implemented and after the course was concluded.

Findings

Early experience with the program strongly indicates that the Capstone project requirement is an effective learning tool. However, identifying qualified mentors, developing suitable projects, assembling teams and administering the Capstone course are demanding tasks. Although students often experience difficulties in the early stages of their work, they ultimately express satisfaction and appreciation for the skills learned in the course.

Practical implications

The inclusion of a capstone team project in a graduate sustainability curriculum is strongly recommended. Adopting such a course requires significant effort and sustained faculty engagement.

Originality/value

Although there is considerable experience with undergraduate engineering Capstone course requirements, little is known about interdivisional capstone requirements at the level of master’s degree in Sustainability. This paper details new and relevant experience helpful to the implementation of such a requirement.

Details

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol. 16 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1467-6370

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Book part
Publication date: 29 November 2014

Andrew Funston and Nicolette Lee

Australian academics and students are discovering the value of final-year capstone units. Often designed as inquiry-based projects, capstones can engage students in…

Abstract

Australian academics and students are discovering the value of final-year capstone units. Often designed as inquiry-based projects, capstones can engage students in authentic work that interests them personally, while building on their disciplinary knowledge and graduate capabilities. However, for some academics dealing with less academically accomplished students, the focus on student-directed activity that is inherent in inquiry-based learning can be a cause of concern. The cross-disciplinary inquiry-based capstone in Arts at an Australian university discussed in this chapter should allay some of those concerns. The cohort at this university includes a high proportion of non-traditional and first in the family students, many from non-English speaking backgrounds. The success of this capstone stems from student teams selecting and designing their own projects, often drawing on knowledge(s) and concerns relevant to their own diverse communities. The flexible framework and guided inquiry approach sees tutors step back – becoming facilitators rather than experts – and this in turn builds students’ confidence in their capacity to plan and execute their projects. The range and quality of student projects carried out in this capstone (many of which involve close links with local communities and advocacy organisations) attest to the value of cross-disciplinary, inquiry-based and student-managed capstone units.

Details

Inquiry-based Learning for Faculty and Institutional Development: A Conceptual and Practical Resource for Educators
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-235-7

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Book part
Publication date: 31 October 2015

Doreen F. Cunningham, Alieu Wurie, Grace E. Byfield and Mark A. Melton

This chapter examines the design and impact on student learning in two STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) capstone undergraduate research courses at…

Abstract

This chapter examines the design and impact on student learning in two STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) capstone undergraduate research courses at Saint Augustine’s University. It discusses how these courses help student metacognitive capabilities as they synthesize their learning across the program, demonstrate holistic development, and successfully negotiate the transition to their next academic and career pathway. It couples data from these capstone research courses with a review of the literature to elucidate the conditions and impact that undergraduate research STEM capstone courses have benefited students, faculty and the University. These best practices for the capstone courses may be used as a model for other HBCUs capstone courses or undergraduate research experiences. Throughout this chapter, the following questions are addressed: How do the capstone courses prepare students for graduate school and/or the STEM workforce? How are the capstone courses enhancing student undergraduate experiences? How do the capstone courses offer authentic research experiences for each student in spite of limited resources and faculty? How do students and faculty feel they have benefited from the capstone course experience? How have students overall learning been enhanced because of the capstone courses?

Details

Infusing Undergraduate Research into Historically Black Colleges and Universities Curricula
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-159-0

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Article
Publication date: 27 November 2019

David Starr-Glass

This conceptual article describes the capstone experience. It argues that this final-year undergraduate study, particularly when centered on in-depth research and writing…

Abstract

Purpose

This conceptual article describes the capstone experience. It argues that this final-year undergraduate study, particularly when centered on in-depth research and writing a dissertation, provides significant value for institutions, students, and future employers. It is argued that the criteria for capstone experience success neatly align with the skills and competencies most source by organizational employers.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a short reflection on the present author’s engagement with capstones and business undergraduates. It is limited in scope, reviews the author’s extensive experience and practice, but may have limited generalizability. Nevertheless, it will likely be of value to business educators and to organizational members seeking to hire high-potential business graduates.

Findings

Properly designed and executed, capstones can develop the skills and competencies currently considered the most desirable in organizations. Those who have successfully completed their capstones (in this case, in-depth research and an undergraduate dissertation) have a demonstrated advantage in the hiring process. Students are encouraged to see the capstone as a bridging activity between college and the workplace. This fosters student engagement with targeted organizations and the creation of contacts and networks that provide mutual advantage on graduation.

Originality/value

The article provides novel insights that are personal but informed and considered. It offers original perspectives on the value of the capstone experience for students, educational institutions, and hiring organizations.

Details

Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 34 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1477-7282

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Article
Publication date: 14 October 2019

Jeffrey W. Alstete and Nicholas J. Beutell

This study aims to consider assurance of learning among undergraduate business students enrolled in capstone business strategy courses using the GLO-BUS competitive…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to consider assurance of learning among undergraduate business students enrolled in capstone business strategy courses using the GLO-BUS competitive simulation. Gender, academic major and business core course performance were examined.

Design/methodology/approach

Participants were 595 undergraduate capstone business students from 21 course sections taught over a four-year period. Variables included learning assurance measures, simulation performance, gender, major, business core course grades, capstone course grade and cumulative grade point average. Correlations, linear regression, multiple regression and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) were used to analyze the data.

Findings

Learning assurance report scores were strongly related to simulation performance. Simulation performance was related to capstone course grade, which, in turn, was significantly related to the grade point average (GPA). Core business courses were related to learning assurance and performance indicators. Significant differences for gender and degree major were found for academic performance measures. Women and men did not differ in simulation performance.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations include the use of one simulation (GLO-BUS) and studying students at one university taught by one professor. Assurance of learning measures needs further study as factors in business program evaluation. Future research should analyze post-graduate performance and career achievements in relation to assurance of learning outcomes.

Originality/value

This study conducts empirical analyses of simulation learning that focuses entirely on direct measures, including student characteristics (gender, major), learning assurance measures, business core course grades, capstone course grades and student GPAs.

Details

Quality Assurance in Education, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0968-4883

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Article
Publication date: 4 April 2016

Jeffrey W. Alstete and Nicholas J. Beutell

The purpose of this paper is to contend that collegiate programs should carefully plan their capstone courses in light of the educational mission, pedagogical content…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contend that collegiate programs should carefully plan their capstone courses in light of the educational mission, pedagogical content knowledge, instructional techniques and delivery formats.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a concept paper with elements of theory building from the case of business strategy courses. After an overview of relevant research along with past and current practices, capstone course content projects and assignments are discussed in relation to delivery formats such as on-campus, hybrid partial online and full distance education.

Findings

Faculty and academic departments choosing project assignments should seek to create an integrative learning experience for students using carefully balanced delivery methods and content. Each of the instructional methods and delivery systems have certain advantages, and the use of these techniques is not mutually exclusive, in that some faculty members may choose to teach course sections using multiple learning systems.

Originality/value

As colleges and universities increase the range of instructional techniques and delivery formats, it is especially important to harmonize these methods with learning objectives for capstone learning experiences. Concepts for balanced integration and synthesis of topics are proposed for different instructional methods and delivery formats that can be applied in other disciplines. Using pedagogical content knowledge as a basis for improving teaching and learning is necessary to achieve balanced integration.

Details

Quality Assurance in Education, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0968-4883

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Article
Publication date: 28 February 2020

Jeffrey W. Alstete and Nicholas J. Beutell

The purpose of this study is to analyze learning assurance measures derived from a business simulation as part of capstone business strategy courses delivered via distance…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to analyze learning assurance measures derived from a business simulation as part of capstone business strategy courses delivered via distance learning (DL) compared to traditional classroom (on-ground [OG]) delivery modes using experiential learning theory.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 595 undergraduate capstone business students from 21 course sections taught over a four-year period in a medium-sized private master’s level college is investigated. Variables included learning assurance measures from a competitive online simulation (GLO-BUS), gender, business degree major, capstone course grades and cumulative grade point averages. The analytic strategy included correlations, linear regressions, multiple regressions and multivariate analyses of variance.

Findings

Results reveal that there are significant differences in learning assurance report (LAR) scores, gender differences and differences between academic majors based on delivery mode (OG versus DL). Simulation performance was higher for DL students, although the relationship between simulation performance and final course grades was not significantly different for OG and DL cohorts.

Research limitations/implications

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, implications for courses, programs, curricula and learning assessment are considered. The strengths (actual performance measures) and potential limitations (e.g. possible deficiency of measures) of LAR scores are discussed.

Originality/value

This research compares OG and DL modes for strategic management course outcomes using direct assessments, including simulation learning assurance measures, student characteristics, capstone course grades and student grade point averages.

Details

Journal of International Education in Business, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-469X

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Article
Publication date: 24 May 2013

Christopher Bajada and Rowan Trayler

A modern business graduate is expected to have strong disciplinary skills as well as the soft skills of communication and team work. However today's business graduate…

Abstract

Purpose

A modern business graduate is expected to have strong disciplinary skills as well as the soft skills of communication and team work. However today's business graduate needs to be more than the traditional “I‐shaped” graduate of the past and more of the “T‐shaped” graduate employers are looking for. Many undergraduate business degrees profess to offer integration of the curriculum but on investigation this occurs mainly through a capstone subject at the end of the degree. Today's business graduates need a more integrated approach to their learning. This paper aims to outline the transformation of a traditional business curriculum to one that is inter‐disciplinary, outlining the necessary steps and conditions including the most challenging – faculty buy in.

Design/methodology/approach

The review of the Bachelor of Business degree at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) provided an opportunity to explore the option to embrace an integrated curriculum. The authors outline how the review was shaped, the need for change and the approaches to interdisciplinary business education, and an approach to designing an interdisciplinary curriculum. They also provide two case studies.

Findings

Approaches to developing an integrative curriculum can take many forms, but the most effective is one that is embedded throughout an entire degree program. This must start with a cornerstone subject to set the road map for the student's study. This subject needs to demonstrate how each discipline interrelates and how at the end of the degree through a capstone subject, this knowledge is again brought together to deal with more complex issues using the more sophisticated tools studied throughout the degree. There also needs to be a strategy that integrates the various first‐year disciplinary subjects traditionally included in an undergraduate business degree.

Originality/value

This paper aims to outline the transformation of a traditional business curriculum to one that is inter‐disciplinary and integrated. The outcome of such an approach produces graduates with the inter‐disciplinary skills that employers are looking for.

Details

Education + Training, vol. 55 no. 4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0040-0912

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2013

Roselynn Lang and Keith McNaught

Capstone subjects which link students approaching graduation with significant experiential learning and relevant industry placements, have the potential to be very…

Abstract

Purpose

Capstone subjects which link students approaching graduation with significant experiential learning and relevant industry placements, have the potential to be very valuable to students. This is particularly evident if they are able to critically reflect on the experience. In light of this, the School of Business at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle campus, sought to embed reflective practice and reflective writing within its Business Internship (capstone) subject. This paper aims to discuss this.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a case study approach.

Findings

Significant challenges emerged in relation to the student learning experience. Some students did not perceive the value of an internship, or of engaging in a professionally reflective process. Business students' differing academic literacy standards became apparent, as did the diverse experiences of international students. It became evident that students required explicit teaching and more thorough training to understand the value of reflection and to write reflectively where required. Subsequently, reflective writing workshops were trialled and embedded in the subject. Reflective practice enabled students to move to a deeper level of understanding, rather than submitting a superficial retelling of their internship experience.

Originality/value

The value of reflective writing is widely recognised in many disciplines, although its application in Business capstone subjects is relatively new. This merits further scholarship, particularly as capstone subjects are increasingly being used to demonstrate assurance of learning for accrediting agencies in Australia.

Details

Journal of International Education in Business, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2046-469X

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