The Capstone Writing Experience
The writing experience of Dickinson students culminates in their final year when they pursue their research and/or creative interests and present their findings in substantial writing projects. In the traditional capstone, students define an area of interest and immerse themselves in the complexity of a narrowly defined topic. In the distributed capstone, students pursue several topics across two or three courses in the major.
While faculty members determine the criteria for the senior writing experience in the major, there are some essential commonalities across the disciplines. Students act as apprentices who model their specialized training via writing that exhibits the research methods, thought patterns, organizational forms, and language of their disciplines. In fact, many faculty challenge students to use articles in academic journals not only as the basis of their research but also as a model for their writing. Therefore, senior writing projects have the stamp of authenticity. Here is a short list of some recent projects:
- A group of Art History majors research and write a catalogue for an art exhibit they curate at the Trout Gallery.
- An Anthropology major writes an analysis of the connection between social roles and vertebrae after conducting laboratory research on ancient skeletal remains.
- A group of Math majors compose a textbook from the building-blocks of definitions and theorems.
- An Economics major compiles a research report for the United Way after studying local homeless people and shelter groups.
- A Russian major studying in Moscow conducts and transcribes interviews for a research essay written in Russian.
- A Geology major writes a scientific paper after doing fieldwork on volcanic deposits in British Columbia.
The Writing Program seeks to offer support for students and faculty participating in senior writing experiences.