2 Contents INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS A CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE?... 3 Capstone Experience Options... 3 Which Option is Right for Me?... 5 SELECTING A TOPIC... 6 SELECTING A CHAIR AND COMMITTEE... 7 Selecting a Chair... 7 Selecting a Committee... 7 SUBMISSION OF TOPIC AND COMMITTEE FORM... 8 PREPARING A THESIS PROPOSAL... 9 SUBMITTING YOUR PROPOSAL TO THE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (IRB) 10 CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE ELEMENTS CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE REVIEW TIMELINE AND FINAL COMMITTEE MEETING FINAL SUBMISSION OF CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE CHECKLIST... 18
3 INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS A CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE? The Capstone Experience at Lebanon Valley College is a product that integrates the knowledge and experiences that students have developed in the Master of Science Education program. It is a culminating experience that takes place at the end of the MSE program, and involves the exploration of a problem or the creation of a product based on a review of the literature base. The Capstone Experience will expand student s knowledge in the field of education, and will involve problem solving, discovery learning, and critical thinking. Capstone Experience Options Students choose either a master s thesis or project track. Students in the thesis track enroll in MSE830 at the completion of their program of study. Students in the project track enroll in MSE832. What is the difference between a project and a thesis? Purpose Project Purpose Thesis The project provides for exploration, analysis, and critique of a chosen education policy or practice issue from an education frame of reference. Process The process will begin with a review of the relevant literature and current thinking in the area of interest, and will lead to the elucidation of a position (such as a program or policy recommendation), or an intervention regarding the issue (such as a program manual or training module). There may be a pilot study and limited data collection if there is an exploratory question, and initial data is needed to guide further research. Emphasis The emphasis for the project is on critical analysis and scholarly thinking. It is often more practical, leading to the development of a program or unit of study, a manual, or a proposed intervention. The emphasis of the thesis is on the development of a research question and/or theory which is situated within the existing literature base and is extensively researched following procedures from established traditions. Process A literature review and critical analysis are an integral part of the process, and lead to a systematic investigation of a research question or problem, the testing of a hypothesis, and an analysis of collected data. Emphasis The emphasis for the thesis is critical inquiry, leading to empirical investigation using established research methods (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods).
4 Framework The project should demonstrate excellence and may be publishable, but does not carry the same burden of originality as the thesis. It may further the knowledge of the student in an area of personal interest. The materials may be organized in a unique manner which reflects the interests, but the material may not in itself be an original contribution to collective education knowledge. Examples A critical review in an area of special interest to the student (policy or practice, model of intervention), including a review of the theoretical foundations, the value base, evidence regarding effectiveness, etc. A resource, handbook, video series, workshop or other training module, developed from a sound literature review and designed to share knowledge with an identified population A program evaluation and revision (such as year-long curriculum, professional development, etc.) A needs assessment Guidance The student is required to engage a project supervisor to supervise the work (this person will act as the committee chair). Proposals will be submitted to the IRB before project can commence. The final project is reviewed by the committee chair and two readers. Format Statement of Goal/Objective Literature Review Project (Methods, Materials, Framework The thesis should advance the collective knowledge of the education discipline. It should make an original or meaningful contribution to the knowledge base of education. Theory building and advancement of knowledge based upon argument from evidence are paramount. Examples A critical review that leads to theory building or theory testing A critical review that leads to development of a hypothesis regarding an education policy or practice, and the testing of that hypothesis The development of an intervention, followed by testing or evaluation of that intervention The design of a program and an evaluation of its effectiveness An empirical study, using quantitative and/or qualitative methods A survey which leads to important policy or program development Guidance The student will work under the guidance of a thesis committee made up of a committee chair and two readers. Proposals will be submitted to the IRB before thesis/research can commence. Format Introduction (Statement of Problem, Purpose, Research Questions/Hypothesis, Limitations,
5 Procedures) Reflection (Discussion, Conclusions/Recommendations) Key Definitions) Review of the Literature) Methods, Materials, and Procedures Results and Data Discussion and Conclusions Which Option is Right for Me? Students should choose the thesis track if they have any interest in pursuing further graduate study or if they wish to produce a publishable product. Students who have a specific research question in mind, or who are naturally geared towards empirical research should also pursue a thesis. Students who may not be interested in further graduate study and who wish to complete a project that is relevant and functional for them may wish to pursue the project track. If you are interested in a hands on experience in which you create a product that relates to an area of personal interest, the project may be right for you.
6 SELECTING A TOPIC Regardless of the track you choose (thesis or project), choose an area of scholarship that interests you. As you work through your courses in the MSE program, keep track of those issues or problems that intrigue you or interest you. Are there situations in your own classroom that you would like to explore more closely? Remember that you will spend many months and possibly a year working on this project. Select a topic that is meaningful for you and that will allow you to stay motivated to complete the experience. You will need to formally select your topic during MSE829 (Research and Statistics). You will prepare your thesis proposal as part of this course.
7 SELECTING A CHAIR AND COMMITTEE Capstone experience committees are made up of three members: the committee chair, the second reader (MSE Director), and the third reader. Students will need to schedule an appointment with the MSE Director during MSE829 to discuss the formation of a capstone committee, to select the capstone experience track (thesis/project), and to enroll in at least one credit of independent research (MSE830 or MSE832). It is the student s responsibility to contact the MSE office by or phone by the mid-point of MSE829 to ensure a smooth transition into the capstone experience. Selecting a Chair The committee chair is the most important resource person for you during the capstone experience. It is essential that you select someone with whom you will work well and who is knowledgeable about your chosen topic. The committee chair may be a member of the LVC faculty or may be someone in an educational leadership position at the school, district, state, or national level. The committee chair will guide your progress and may help you identify additional readers. The chair must hold at least a master s degree in a closely related field to the topic of study, and must be approved by the MSE Director. If the student chooses to locate a chair outside of the LVC faculty, they must be prepared to provide biographical information about the prospective chair. The chair will receive a small stipend for agreeing to serve for the duration of the capstone experience. Selecting a Committee The second reader of the capstone committee is the MSE Director and/or the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Students will need to select a third reader for their committee. This reader may be a member of the LVC faculty or may be a colleague or administrator at their school district. The third reader does not have to be an expert in the particular topic, but should be knowledgeable and experienced in the field of education. Third readers should possess at least a master s degree unless approved otherwise by the MSE Director. Third readers will receive a small stipend for agreeing to serve for the duration of the capstone experience.
8 SUBMISSION OF TOPIC AND COMMITTEE FORM Before enrolling for capstone experience credit (MSE830/832), the Topic and Committee form must be signed by all committee members and submitted to the MSE Director. The form is available online at the Graduate Website. Before continuing with the capstone experience, you must have written approval of the topic/project and of the committee. Any changes in the topic or membership of the committee must include a new Topic and Committee form signed by all committee members.
9 PREPARING A THESIS PROPOSAL As part of MSE829 (Research Methods and Statistics), you will prepare your thesis/project proposal. Your proposal will include the following components: 1. Title of Research or Project 2. Introduction 3. Literature Review 4. Statement of Research Questions or Hypothesis (thesis) OR Statement of Intended Project (project) 5. Description of the Research Approach or Methodology (thesis) OR Description of the Project (project) 6. Discussion of the Approach for Analyzing Results (thesis) OR Plan for Completing Project 7. Conclusion The capstone proposal must follow the conventions of APA formatting. Guidance for using APA can be found on the MSE Website. A proposal without all of these elements is incomplete and not acceptable. The proposal must be well-written. Each proposal must be approved by the entire committee before being submitted to the Institutional Review Board for ethical review. There are two options for this process: 1. Schedule a face-to-face meeting with all members of the committee to discuss the completed proposal. 2. Schedule a virtual meeting through WebEx (contact the MSE Director to set up a time) or through phone conference. In this meeting, you will present your proposal to the committee and answer questions about your methodology and design. The committee will then approve the proposal or request changes to be made before proceeding. If changes are required, a new meeting will need to be scheduled.
10 SUBMITTING YOUR PROPOSAL TO THE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (IRB) Once your committee has approved your proposal, it will be digitally submitted to the Institutional Review Board. This committee reviews all college-sanctioned research involving human subjects, and THEY MUST APPROVE ALL RESEARCH PRIOR TO ANY DATA BEING COLLECTED. Please allow up to one month for approval of research projects. Two forms must accompany the digital submission of your proposal: 1. LVC Institutional Review Board: Research Proposal Form 2. LVC Institutional Review Board: Research Certification Form Both forms are available on the MSE Website. Once the IRB has approved your proposal, you will receive an from the IRB committee chair and/or the MSE Director. At this point, you may begin collecting data or working on your project. You will continue working under the guidance of your committee chair.
11 CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE ELEMENTS Each of the following sections should begin on a new page, with all of the primary portions of the paper double-spaced. Text should be presented in 12-point font, with 1- inch margins on each page. Page numbers should appear in the upper right corner of each page, starting with the Title Page. The collective length of the primary portions of the document must be at least 20 complete pages. Thesis Capstone Elements (MSE830) Project Capstone Elements (MSE832) Element 1 Title Page Element 1 Title Page Include the thesis title, your name, program name, and month & year of graduation Include the project title, your name, program name, and month & year of graduation Element 2 Table of Contents Element 2 Table of Contents Include all sections from Capstone Include all sections from Capstone Experience Approval Page (element #3) through Figures Experience Approval Page (element #3) through Figures (element #15) (element #15) Element 3 Capstone Experience Approval Page Element 3 Capstone Experience Approval Page Include the name and title of the primary thesis advisor, MSE Director, Director of Graduate Studies/Continuing Education, and any additional readers, along with a blank line upon which each Include the name and title of the primary project advisor, MSE Director, Director of Graduate Studies/Continuing education, and any additional readers, along with a blank line upon which each individual can sign their name individual can sign their name Element 4 Acknowledgements Element 4 Acknowledgements Students may provide written Students may provide written thanks to any individuals who assisted them in a significant manner in the course of their work within the MSE program and/or thanks to any individuals who assisted them in a significant manner in the course of their work within the MSE program and/or preparation of the project preparation of the thesis Element 5 Abstract Element 5 Abstract Summarize the entire thesis, by briefly reviewing the critical Summarize the entire project, by briefly reviewing critical elements elements of the Introduction, Method, Results, and Discussion Keep to 120 words or less (no longer than 1 page) sections of the thesis Keep to 120 words or less (no longer than 1 page) Element 6 Element 6
12 Introduction (10-12 pages) Begin by identifying a specific problem area within the field and explain why it is important to investigate Literature is then reviewed by summarizing and integrating at least 5-10 sources, showing how they are similar/different (not just listing one finding after another), and how they connect to the main theme The purpose of the research is mentioned near the end of the section, including a rationale as to how/why the study is necessary in relation to the literature review Element 7 Method This section should be subdivided into separate sections (Participants, Design, Materials, Procedures) PARTICIPANTS: include a description of the number and type of subjects used in the study, including the gender, average ages, how they were recruited and compensated, and any other important demographic characteristics of the sample DESIGN: describe the structure of the experiment, with clear operational definitions of all independent and dependent variables, and any special variable coding procedures that were necessary prior to any data analysis should also be outlined MATERIALS: include a detailed description of all essential materials/equipment used in the course of your research; elaborate items (surveys, stimuli lists) should be summarized here and provided in full in the Appendix PROCEDURE: detail what Introduction (10-12 pages) Begin by describing the purpose for the project and why it is important to the field, your district, school, classroom, etc. Review literature related to the project, integrating at least 5-10 sources, showing how they are similar/different (not just listing one finding after another), and how they connect to the main theme Explain how the project will be used or integrated, and how it fits in with the literature review. Element 7 Project This section should include the project in its entirety. For example, if you chose to complete a curriculum revision, the curriculum should be included in this section. If the project includes multimedia elements, include a summary of the element and a copy of the project on CD to be included with the project. This section should include a description of the design of the project, any materials that were used, and the method for completing the project.
13 happened to each participant, from the start through the finish of each experiment session; any preparatory/concluding activities, performed by the research but not involving participants should not be included here Element 8 Results If your project includes multiple dependent variables, utilize separate paragraphs for each measured element Begin with a verbal statement of your hypothesis, making specific reference to your independent and dependent variables Verbally describe the pattern of your results, including consistency with hypothesis, referring to actual data appearing in tables/figures Provide significance decisions (and effect sizes) in relation to all appropriate and necessary statistical techniques used to analyze your data, using proper APA style Element 9 Discussion Begin this section by reviewing all hypotheses and re-stating whether or not these predictions were supported by the collected data Explain why your results occurred in the manner you observed, according to referenced sources Connect your results to the existing literature reviewed in the Introduction, explaining what your data adds to what is known about the topic under investigation Describe potential limitations/flaws of your research, including issues related to: design/internal validity, external validity, and/or Element 8 Reflection (8-10 pages) Begin this section by reviewing the purpose of the project and its intended integration. Connect your project with existing literature and explain what your project adds to the field. Reflect on the overall experience and its benefit to you as a teacher and to the teaching/learning process. Provide recommendations for further study and/or extension of your project. Connect your project to the learning goals for the MSE program (available on the MSE Website). Element 9 References All sources mentioned within the paper must be cited using proper APA style
14 measurement analysis of dependent variables, as well as possible remedies for these sources of error Explore the directions of possible future research within your domain Conclude the thesis by exploring any potential real-world implications of your data Element 10 References All sources mentioned within the paper must be cited using proper APA style Element 11 Footnotes Elaborate on any noted comments within the primary portions of the project Element 12 Appendices Present any necessary ancillary materials, cited earlier in the project Element 13 Tables Present any data in APA-style tables, including descriptions of data and effective row/column organization Do not present identical data in figures Each table appears on its own page Element 14 Figure Captions Descriptions of each figure are clearly presented Element 10 Footnotes Elaborate on any noted comments within the primary portions of the project Element 11 Appendices Present any necessary ancillary materials, cited earlier in the project Element 12 Tables Present any data in APA-style tables, including descriptions of data and effective row/column organization Do not present identical data in figures Each table appears on its own page Element 13 Figure Captions Descriptions of each figure are clearly presented Element 14 Figures Present any data in APA-style figures (line charts, bar graphs, etc.) Do not present identical information in tables Each figure appears on its own page
15 Element 15 Figures Present any data in APA-style figures (line charts, bar graphs, etc.) Do not present identical information in tables Each figure appears on its own page
16 CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE REVIEW TIMELINE AND FINAL COMMITTEE MEETING No later than 2 months before the graduation date, the preliminary draft of the capstone paper should be submitted to the committee chair for review and suggestions. The committee chair will have one week to read and make comments and to return the paper back to the student for corrections. The student will make corrections and re-submit the revised draft to the committee chair. The committee chair will submit the draft to the other committee members for review. The committee members will have one week to read and make comments and return the paper back to the student for corrections. Once the paper has been corrected to the satisfaction of the committee, the student will schedule a final committee meeting for the oral presentation of the capstone experience. The student will need to contact all members of the committee to find a time/date that works for each member s schedule. The meeting will take place on the LVC campus. Students should be prepared with a PowerPoint presentation to present each of the key sections of the thesis or project. The student should be prepared to answer questions from the committee members. The committee will then inform the student of their decision regarding the capstone experience (approval or revisions required), based on the Capstone Experience Rubric, which is available on the MSE Website. For approval, students must earn a Level 3 or 4 on each item of the rubric. Sections earning less than a 3 or 4 must be revised and resubmitted to the committee for final approval. If revisions are required, the student will make final changes within one week of the final committee meeting. The final version of the thesis is due one month before graduation.
17 FINAL SUBMISSION OF CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE Once all changes have been made to the paper (thesis or project), the student must prepare the paper for official campus archiving. Conduct a final review of spelling and grammar. Submit (2) copies of the paper to the MSE Director. Printing must be single-sided. A higher quality paper should be used. Committee members should use a blue pen to sign the approval page. Do not submit the papers in a binder. Do not staple or bind the pages. Papers may be submitted in a folder or may be clipped with a removable device. Complete the Library Release form, available on the MSE Website.
18 CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE CHECKLIST Enroll in MSE829 Research Methods and Statistics Schedule meeting with MSE Director to select committee and chair (by mid-term of MSE829) Select Committee and Chair/Supervisor with MSE Director Submit Committee and Topic Form to MSE Director Enroll in MSE830 or MSE832 (1-3 credits) Complete Proposal (as part of MSE829) Meet with Committee and share Proposal (MSE830/832) Submit Proposal and IRB paperwork to IRB (MSE830/832) Commence research/project (MSE830/832) Submit final product to Chair (MSE830/832) Submit final product to Committee (MSE830/832) Schedule Oral Presentation of Thesis/Project with MSE Director and Committee (MSE830/832) Make revisions as necessary to project (MSE 830/832) Submit final product to MSE Director (2 copies with signed consent form)
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