The word “capstone” originally meant the top stone in a wall or other building structure. It still does, in fact, refer to this stone, the last one put into place and, if done well, the capstone is the one stone that rather holds everything together. The symbolism was immediately inescapable, however, and over time the capstone became known not just as something a mason uses, but as a crowning achievement, the culmination and expression of everything that came before, in a wide variety of contexts.
In academia, capstone projects are generally assigned to students in fields that will require them to apply their accumulated knowledge in real-life, practical situations. Thus, students in fields ranging from Computer Science / Information Technology to Public Health are increasingly asked to complete capstone projects instead of more traditional theses or dissertations. The format of the capstone project generally consists of both written text and a presentation, although formats do vary from school to school. Interestingly, many undergraduate-level students are also asked to complete capstone projects, often to serve as cumulative final exams for entire courses of study.
Regardless of the level of student completing the capstone project, or indeed the discipline, the goals are generally the same. Colleges and universities want to know that the student is able to take a good portion of the information and knowledge s/he gained through several years of study and not only synthesize it, but also apply it, in a useful and scholarly fashion, thus making a unique contribution to the overall body of literature for his or her field. In this way, the capstone project can be seen as a kind of thesis or dissertation, with its emphasis on analysis, synthesis, and original thought.
Because of the general intensity of capstone projects, they tend to span at least a semester's worth of time, and are often preceded by courses specifically designed to teach students how to undergo such a massive piece of work. Such courses help students learn how to perform targeted research, how to read and understand the studies they find in the course of their research, how to put the research together into some sort of cohesive form so as to come up with their own research questions and accompanying study, and other related skills.
Even though students take such courses, though, many of them still feel incredibly overwhelmed and intimidated when facing the actual capstone. This is natural: most of the time, undergraduate curricula do not prepare students for the level of independent thinking, researching, and writing that is demanded by the capstone project. Do not despair: help is just a click away! See how we can assist you with your capstone project now.
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