Edgar Fellows Capstone Experience

First and foremost, we thank the HONR 393 mentors. The Capstone experience is the high point of the Edgar Fellows Program.  We appreciate the time you donate to these exceptional students. We sincerely hope, and most certainly anticipate, that the experience is rewarding for both of you.

HONR 393: The Capstone Project

The Honors Capstone experience will be a project of the student's own design that will culminate in a written critical analysis of that experience, and an oral presentation of its results to an audience of peers. The project can be a traditional honors thesis, an artistic/creative enterprise, scientific research, community service, or any endeavor that has intellectual integrity, challenge, and the potential for critical analysis. Proposals will be submitted to the Edgar Fellows program directors by the beginning of the senior (or the Capstone) year. Credits: 3(3-0) per semester for a total of 6 (6-0) credits.

About the Project

The Capstone Project may be a traditional honors thesis, but it can also be a project of the student’s own design—artistic, experimental, service. All projects need a written component wherein the student demonstrates knowledge of the context and the significance of project.

For the traditional thesis, the written component is the goal. It should reflect a deep understanding of the chosen topic, grounded in research, dialogue, and reflection. While not quite a Master’s thesis, it might be thought of as having the substance of two substantial term papers, where the sum is somehow more than the parts.

For a project – art installation, biology research and the like—the emphasis is on the quality of the thing produced. Finding a measure is more difficult. We depend on the integrity of the student-mentor team. It should be appropriate to six credits of senior honors-level work. The written component goes beyond simple documentation; it should give the background of the project and offer a reflection on the significance of the project in the larger context of the discipline. It need not be as lengthy as a traditional thesis.

Every Capstone Project must be grounded in the conventions, methods, and/or conceptual frameworks of at least one academic discipline. The specific nature of the project will be determined through consultation between the student and mentor. Please note that individual disciplines might require that the project satisfy a specific set of research standards.

All theses and projects (at least their written component) will be submitted to the Edgar Fellows directors for the purpose of archiving.

About the Mentoring Process

The relationship between a mentor and student differs from team to team but all successful experiences share one thing: the mentor and student establish clear expectations with a timeline for their achievement. The mentor and student meet regularly, with a convenient frequency. In short, a successful Capstone experience is a successful directed study: independent but monitored and shaped by the mentor.

The mentor is responsible for the grade. If there is any dispute, the directors of the program will mediate.

About the Capstone Seminar

The Capstone Experience will include attendance at the mandatory Capstone Seminar (HONR 394) that will meet approximately six times in the Capstone year. The seminar will prepare the student for both presentation and writing. The seminar director alone will determine the final grade for HONR 394.

The seminar is intended to assist the student by sharing ideas amongst the cohort, by trouble shooting the process, and by monitoring progress. Research techniques will be shared. The seminar will also help students prepare to present an oral report on their work where they share their results with an audience of peers. The forums may vary (we prefer GREAT DAY), but the presentation should meet the oral presentation standards of your discipline.

About Registering

Students usually enroll in HONR 393 for three credits in each of the two semesters of their senior year, though the number of credits per semester can vary (as long as the total is six).  In most cases the grade in the first semester will be "satisfactory progress." The final grade of the second semester is then applied to all six hours.  Some students prefer to receive a separate grade for each semester. With the recent shift College-wide to an online registration process for directed studies, all students must remember to re-register for the second semester of the project. 

We hope that this gives you a better overview of the Capstone process. Please feel free to call one of us if any questions arise.  We hope to maintain frequent contact with all the students who are working with you.

Lisa Meyer
Director of the Edgar Fellows Program