Enhancing Team-Based Senior Capstone Projects: Opportunities and Challenges
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Generally, capstone courses focus on the integration and application of technical knowledge and skills acquired in previous coursework along with a consideration of multiple realistic constraints. However, capstone courses also require students to focus on a variety of professional skills, including teamwork, unstructured task completion, and project management. Because students are often new at these skills, they may find it difficult to resolve issues as they arise, particularly when working with an actual industrial client.
Capstone courses also pose challenges to faculty. Finding a consistent stream of projects that are at the appropriate level for senior level students can be difficult for faculty given the limited time frame of most courses. A fair and consistent method to evaluate student work on an individual and group level is also a challenge for instructors.
This paper will outline the challenges and best practices learned in the development and implementation of a senior-level capstone course in engineering technology, based on qualitative data gathered over several years. Specifically, strategies for sourcing student projects, student team formation and management, and options for ensuring accountability among student teams will also be discussed. Ideas on fair and consistent assessment methods for group and individual work will also be emphasized.