Assessing Capstone Courses and Internships–Where is the Value?

A faculty on point for her program’s assessment asks:

One of the group discussions at the last retreat was on choosing the capstone course. I understand that the major/core assignment in the capstone  course needs to address all the program goals. That will be the course we assess (along with a 200 level course). The degree really has a natural capstone course built into their core.  So, they are all set.

The group also talked about using the internship experience as their capstone course. Since the majors in the program are fairly diverse, the teaching faculty thought the unique internship experiences would address that issue. For assessment purposes, it seems most efficient to have one 400 level course per degree program that we assess (as opposed to multiple ones, possibly a capstone course for each major).

What are your thoughts about 1) using the internship course as a capstone course and 2) about having multiple 400 level courses that we assess.

Finally, are there other programs on campus that are using their internship as a capstone?

Thanks –

Combing through the new NWCC&U standards, prepping for a meeting with accreditors on Friday November 6, 2009, I note Standard 2.C.5 that states:

“Teaching faculty take collective responsibility for fostering and assessing student achievement of identified learning outcomes.”

That to me means the a capstone assessments gains formal utility when it involves many faculty in a program, and the much better reason than the rule is that program improvements are most potent when those faculty in the program are engaged in the assessment.  When faculty actually assess the performance, debate the performance (inter-rater reliability), a better handle on what it takes to improve the student learning experience emerges.

Internships are also invaluable targets especially when all or part of the same rubric might be used. We might engage internship supervisors and coordinators to also provide feedback on students’ performance during the internship.  That process helps corroborate or validate the capstone assessment and provides independent review that verifies our claimed outcomes. We’ve found that internship supervisors in other programs, in spite of some initial skepticism, were both willing and capable at applying rubric adaptations, and open to input from program faculty when they collaborate in the norming process.

Comment  added to original of this post

Capstone and Internships

There are some terrific internships going on for WSU students, and some not terrific ones.  From my conversations with faculty in a couple of different programs, the intership experience can be one of the best things but in reality it’s all over the map.

I think a great step that a number of programs may choose as a pressing need is to better assess the internship experience, and how students get feedback.  This could be rich assessment data.

However, because the internships are so varied in quality, I don’t see that as a good substitute for assessmetn of a capstone project (which should be addressing all the learning goals, for example, while an internship may not.)

Green, Kimberly at 12/18/2009 12:29 PM