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SEED projects 2020 – Designing for learning

The delivery of capstone courses in undergraduate education

Dr Peter Smith

Dr Peter Smith

Dr Peter Smith (Business School)

I am currently researching the literature on capstone courses with a view to piloting a design of a capstone course in 2020. This SEED Grant will support the three prongs of my fellowship, namely: (a) a review of the literature on capstone courses; (b) the design and delivery of a pilot capstone course in 2020; and (c) working across faculties to both understand what else is being done, and to share learning.

A review of the literature on capstone courses will investigate courses both in terms of the pedagogical literature from higher education in general as well as courses in management education in particular. It is expected that the literature review will become a journal publication, hopefully in the Journal of Management Education. This first step is to be completed between the start of the grant and the end of Summer School 2020.

Based on the insight from the literature review, the intention was to re-design and deliver a course as a capstone in 2020. Following on from the literature review, the design work will take place during Semester 1, with delivery of the course in Semester 2. Two candidate courses are available: an existing course (MGMT 300) and a special topic (MGMT 320). Both candidate courses are undergraduate courses. The choice of course was made during the literature review. The ‘field of practice’ for the course will be experiential learning using either a business simulation or some form of serious play. The choice will be co-determined with the choice of candidate course. The final part of this is the evaluation of the course design and its impact on students. This form of evaluation (beyond the normal cycle of course evaluation) will be driven out of the literature review.

To truly capture the benefits of this fellowship, it was necessary to work with others in the University who are also involved in capstone courses. This allows conversations to occur around the theoretical insights being obtained and the practical challenges of capstone courses. To that end, discussions were already in train with the Associate Dean (Science) and with Julia Novak, the Faculty of Science’s lead in this area, so that the knowledge from this project might be collected and shared across the University of Auckland.