This culminating course in the professional core sequence for the M.A.S. degree requires the graduate student to design, formally propose, implement, and prepare a scholarly write-up of an individual capstone project.
The Department of Education Offers Two Options for the Capstone Project:
- a traditional thesis project, for which the student will write research questions, conduct a thorough literature review, determine methodology, collect all relevant data, and complete analyses and discussion; and
- a capstone internship experience project, for which the student will seek out and identify a host site and on-site mentor, then complete an intensive field-based internship, which guarantees some sort of deliverable(s) to the host site.
OPTION #1 – Traditional Thesis Project
REQUIRED Content for the Scholarly Write-Up of the Traditional Thesis Project:
- List of tables
- List of figures
- Ch. 1 – Introduction, including statement of problem and research question(s)
- Ch. 2 – Review of Literature
- Ch. 3 – Methods, including participants, materials, and procedures
- Ch. 4 – Results and Analysis of Findings
- Ch. 5 – Discussion
- Appendices (including consent forms and a copy of IRB approval)
Quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, case study, or ethnographic methodology may be employed.
Key FEATURES of the Traditional Thesis Project
- The traditional thesis project is NOT to be viewed as “another research paper,” similar to papers the graduate student may have developed for other courses in the Missouri Western State University graduate program. The traditional thesis project must consist of new, original research regarding a topic closely related to the content of the student’s major (i.e., TESOL or autism spectrum disorders).
- Results generated by the thesis project should be of “presentation / publication quality;” that is, the graduate student should have the option of proposing a presentation of the thesis findings at a professional conference, or submitting a manuscript that reports the thesis results.
- Several bound copies of theses completed by graduates of the Missouri Western State University graduate programs in autism spectrum disorders and TESOL are available for review from the main campus library or Department of Education.
EXAMPLE Ideas for the Traditional Thesis Project
- A comparative study of the effectiveness of two intervention approaches (vocabulary study and corrective reading instruction) for increasing the reading scores of learners participating in a district ESOL program
- A survey to investigate the relationship between the professional development experiences provided to district paraprofessionals (in a program serving learners with ASD) and the paraprofessionals’ levels of job satisfaction
- A comparison of the goals of adult English Language Learners and their instructors
- An investigation of the stress levels experienced by mothers of young children who experience autism spectrum disorder: those whose children exhibit conventional communication skills and those whose children do not
OPTION #2 – Capstone Internship Experience
REQUIRED Content for the Scholarly Write-Up of the Capstone Project:
- Ch. 1 – Introduction / Description of the seminal idea to be presented to the host site, including identification of the proposed on-site mentor
- Ch. 2 – Review of Literature, including justification / support for the proposal
- Ch. 3 – Formal Proposal to be made to the host site
- Ch. 4 – Implementation Plan for the proposal, including a detailed budget
- Ch. 5 – Evaluation Plan and / or Outcomes
- Appendices (including FULL copy of the deliverables provided to the host site)
Key FEATURES of the Capstone Internship Experience:
- The capstone internship experience is NOT to be viewed as “another field experience” or “practicum.” The capstone internship experience must target a dedicated project that is beyond the scope of the graduate student’s current employment and job responsibilities.
- The student may NOT “double-dip;” he / she must guarantee that the hours accrued / logged for the capstone internship experience are outside the required “duty day” of the student’s current professional employment.
- A minimum of 150 clock hours is required. The student must keep detailed, accurate records of time dedicated to work associated with the capstone internship experience. [A capstone log sheet will be provided.] The following activities may be documented as hours accrued toward the required 150 hours:
- ALL contact hours with the host organization (including making contacts; scheduling meetings, etc., via phone and email; formally presenting ideas to organization personnel)
- ALL time spent in interviews and / or meetings related to the development of the proposed project
- Hours spent conducting research (e.g., research regarding the host organization, funding opportunities)
- Time spent writing the actual deliverables for the host site (i.e., the documents which will serve as Appendices in the capstone write-up)
- Time spent preparing / writing the actual capstone document for Missouri Western State University (e.g., abstract, chapters, references) may NOT be counted toward the required 150 HOURS!
- Hours spent interacting with the capstone advisor (e.g., phone conversations, face-to-face meetings, email correspondence) may NOT be counted toward the required 150 HOURS!
- The graduate student is required to identify an on-site mentor, with minimum credentials of a Master’s degree or equivalent. This individual will help to: enable the graduate student’s access to the appropriate administrator(s) / resources, clear on-site hurdles the student might encounter, and provide on-going guidance in regard to development of the capstone deliverables (i.e., to ensure the graduate student stays “on track” in regard to development of a project that will meet the district’s / agency’s needs).
- The graduate student and capstone advisor will identify a three-member capstone committee and file the appropriate form (same as for traditional thesis option).
EXAMPLE Ideas for Capstone Internship Experience
- Conduct research regarding, and prepare, a grant proposal for actual submission to a foundation or governmental entity – (e.g., to develop a professional development package, which would prepare general educators to better support learners with ASD or TESOL in inclusive classrooms; to support the purchase of augmentative communication devices [for learners who experience ASD] or language learning curriculum [for learners for whom English is a second language])
- Develop an in-depth proposal and implementation budget for an after-school program for an identified public school district (to make it appropriate for learners who experience ASD OR provide peer tutoring for learners who are English language learners)
- Develop a district-wide curriculum, in conjunction with the Director of Special Services of an identified public school district, for functional skills training for secondary students with ASD in work-preparation / transition to world of work
- Develop a comprehensive curriculum proposal, in conjunction with the Coordinator of ELL Services of an identified public school district, for supporting second language learning in a preschool immersion program