Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Students support capstone requirement

cook books mct

(MCT)

Many undergraduate careers conclude with a capstone, an exhaustive research project designed to introduce students to the rigors of academia.

In fact, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) estimates that as many as two-thirds of bachelor students complete them, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. At the University of Massachusetts, students can enroll in a capstone either through the Commonwealth Honors College or independently.

With so many students doing capstones, the AACU recently decided to review the value of a capstone to a student, according to the Chronicle.

They found that capstones have “significant educational benefits,” according to the Chronicle, although they “do not always lead students to synthesize materials across discipline.”

Despite this shortcoming, associate professor Annaliese Bischoff of the Landscape Architecture & Regional Plan believes capstones are worthwhile.

They allow for a  “depth and rigor with which a student can engage a topic of his or her own interest,” said Bischoff, who works as an adviser for the Honors College.

She explained that it differs from standard courses because it “prepares students to continue with confidence, enthusiasm, and excitement, and a strength and ability to handle new tasks in innovative ways.”

The Honors College offers two methods of completing a capstone. The first method is to pursue a research path of their choice working with a faculty adviser. The second option is to enroll in a faculty-initiated seminar which follows a traditional classroom structure. Both options are meant to occur during a student’s final two undergraduate semesters.

While it is primarily honors students who complete capstones, it is possible for other UMass undergraduate students to participate. Students may now join as partial curriculum students choosing from Departmental Honors Only, Multidisciplinary Honors Only or General Studies Honors Only, rather than becoming full curriculum participants in the Honors College.

One such participant is Andrew Maurer, a mathematics and computer science major, who chose to enroll in the Departmental Honors Only program. Maurer saw the capstone project as an opportunity to test out his future plans as a pure mathematician. He said that he “wanted to get a taste of what professional and advanced level research in the mathematics field would be like.”

Maurer’s project will not require him to do any multidisciplinary research.

But he said that “if a student’s future plans involve synthesizing material across different fields, they should practice that.”

“I … want the opportunity to focus my efforts towards my future goals, and working to incorporate other fields would not be useful in my future plans,” Maurer said.

Another student, Megan Valcour, a senior English major, viewed her capstone process quite differently. Unlike Maurer, Valcour is enrolled in a capstone course in which students are encouraged to take advantage of online resources like YouTube and social media websites in their research. All of the students in her class have unique pursuits, and their success depends on their individual approach.

The capstone lets you “accomplish something really awesome, if it has personal meaning for you,” Valcour said.

“It can’t hurt you to do a long term research project for experience, but if you’re not going to belong to academia later, [a capstone] could prevent you from pursuing classes you really want to take instead,” she added.

The AACU study – which analyzed two years of data from four private colleges – showed that capstones can be exhausting. The average senior spent 14 hours a week on their capstone alone, three hours more than a senior without a capstone spends studying for all of their classes, according to the Chronicle. The study also found that 84 percent of students working on a capstone project were significantly more stressed.

Even with the additional stress levels, completing a capstone can be rewarding and practical.

“My capstone let me develop my business skills and research skills at the Lego company. It was real life experience,” said senior Isenberg student Lauren Fisher. “I learned the basics in class, but this put me in the team atmosphere and helped me develop more skills like time management.”

The study showed that a capstones had an “unusually powerful” impact on critical thinking, oral presentation and writing skills.

“It can be a great experience, or difficult and frustrating, but that’s a part of the process … I think it would be beneficial for everybody to do, but logistically that would be difficult,” Fisher said.

Nadia Ragounath can be reached at nragouna@student.umass.edu. Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

 

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