Capstone allows seniors to delve deeper into topics

Some know it as capstone, others as senior project or senior seminar. Whatever the name, many departments at Trinity require students to complete some type of final project in order to attain a degree in that field.

One of the departments that requires a senior seminar is history. Department chair Carey Latimore describes this seminar as a four-credit-hour, research-and writing-intensive course offered in both fall and spring semesters.

The courses vary in subject matter, where students learn to analyze primary sources and apply what they learn to a written component of the course in the form of a research paper.

“The senior seminar really allows students to get into more narrow subject matter and explore the topic more deeply,” Latimore said. “Students learn to break down arguments and write at a level that is not just writing or talking about something.”

Latimore also calls the seminar a collaborative experience because of all of the processes and interactions that go into creating the final product.

“It’s fun when you’re in a small class discussing different books,” Latimore said. “It really is a collaborative experience. Students learn from the professor, from peers, and learn how to utilize the library and librarians. They’re not just learning history.”

Similarly, the communication major requires degree candidates to complete a capstone course where they apply the skills and information they have learned over the duration of their studies of the discipline to a final project in one of three categories: research, professional and creative projects.

Students choose a category depending on what they plan to do with their degrees. These different focuses allow students to think about and work toward their future.

“The goal of capstone is to provide a bridge between their life and academic work and life beyond,” said department chair Jennifer Henderson. “We want to create an experience where they can look forward at what’s happening next in their lives.”

The capstone is a three-credit-hour course and is offered in both semesters. Mathematics department chair Peter Olofsson also describes the mathematics senior project as a bridge between Trinity and life after graduation.

“The senior project gives students a chance to study a topic more in depth; it’s a lot different from just a class,” Olofsson said. “It prepares them for the future.”

The senior project for mathematics is also a three-hour course offered during both semesters. Students can work with the professor of their choice, depending on the topic they choose to explore.

Projects can involve research in the form of reading and analyzing or can be more hands-on and interactive. Students write a research paper and present their work as well.

Some other departments that require a project of this nature to complete a major are environmental studies, business and computer science. To determine if a major or minor requires a project like those discussed and when to take it, talk with an advisor before registration.