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Approved by the Manoa Faculty Senate on 4/17/2013
51:4 in favor

[Pdf] (Transmittal)

Resolution Concerning Capstone Experiences in Undergraduate Degree Programs

WHEREAS the Engaged Learning Working Group, a faculty group that reports to the UH-Manoa Strategic Planning Implementation Committee, has been charged with finding ways to promote increased student engagement in their learning at UH-Manoa; and

WHEREAS research by such scholars of student engagement as George Kuh has demonstrated the value of capstones as places where engaged learning takes place and nationally capstones are an established element in higher education; and

WHEREAS capstones, normally taken in the senior year, may be defined as “culminating experience[s] in which students are expected to integrate, extend, critique and apply knowledge gained in the major”; and

WHEREAS the central hallmark of capstone experiences is that it demonstrates the totality of the student’s growth, development, and learning as an undergraduate; and

WHEREAS capstone experiences can further the mission of our research university by providing undergraduates with an inquiry-based and applied learning experience; and

WHEREAS the chief benefits of the capstone experience are that (1) they help students make sense of what they have learned across years and therefore better understand the value of their major and of their degree; (2) they allow students to put learning into practice; (3) they help faculty determine the cumulative effect of the major on student learning; and (4) they provide evidence of student learning that helps faculty determine students’ levels of achievement on program learning outcomes; and

WHEREAS capstones may take many forms, such as a course in the major; an interdisciplinary course with at least two disciplines represented; an out-of-class co-curricular experience; a service and/or community-based learning experience; the application and/or demonstration of specialized knowledge via such means as a research paper, a thesis, a portfolio, a project, an exhibit, a performance, a show, or a recital; or a college-to-work or career transition experience such as an internship or informational interviewing; and

WHEREAS about half of the majors at UH-Manoa already have in their curriculum courses or experiences that either are or could easily become capstones, including explicitly labeled capstone courses, senior seminars, independent research courses, directed reading courses, field work, practica, internships, and service learning courses (or courses that include service learning); and

WHEREAS capstone experiences allow us to demonstrate many aspects of the Institutional Learning Objectives approved by the Manoa Faculty Senate in April of 2012;


  • applauds those undergraduate degree programs that already offer or require capstone courses or experiences for their majors; and
  • urges undergraduate degree programs that currently do not have a capstone course or experience in their curriculum to consider adding one, chosen from the possibilities enumerated above or others as may be appropriate to their own discipline; and
  • urges undergraduate degree programs to consider making a capstone course or experience a graduation requirement for their majors.