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HONR 400: Honors Capstone Tutorial

If you have completed, or soon will have completed, all four courses offered in the Interdisciplinary Honors Minor, you may design and complete an independent, interdisciplinary project as the final requirement of the minor.

The Capstone Tutorial, HONR 400, offers you the opportunity to demonstrate that you are skilled at interdisciplinary learning and that you possess the intellectual maturity and judgment required to do original research and/or creative endeavor.   

Working with any Augustana College professor of your choice as a mentor, you will propose and then craft an appropriately rigorous, polished, and creative product — usually, but not always, a well-researched scholarly paper. This work should exemplify the best of your capabilities.  It should be grounded in interdisciplinary scholarship dedicated to answering a thoughtfully conceived research question. 

Because Honors capstones must be intensely interdisciplinary, in keeping with the program itself, and because HONR credit must be earned with new honors work, no departmental Senior Inquiry project may be submitted for HONR 400 credit. However, if any department will accept the capstone project as fulfilling major requirements, that is at the discretion of that department. 

All capstone tutorials must be approved by a subcommittee of three Honors Committee members, including the Honors Director. Your deadline for submitting a proposal is three weeks before you are scheduled to register for the relevant semester or, after a consultation with the Honors Director, another date agreed upon.  

The student's obligations:

1. At least one term before you register for HONR 400, you must contact a faculty member to oversee and help propose your project. If you are unsure of your project or the professor best suited to oversee it, contact the Honors Director or a professor from any Honors courses. These people can help you identify a likely faculty tutor.

2. Also before registering for HONR 400, you and your faculty tutor must create and sign a Capstone Tutorial Proposal and Contract. The proposal and contract must include the following:

a. Investigators: Include the names of the principal investigator (you, or in the event of a joint project, your student partners) and your tutor.

b. Research question: Your description should begin with an explicit, focused question that sets forth the direction of your inquiry. 

c. Project description: This section (usually about two pages) defines more specifically the problem or research question.  It should be written for an audience of knowledgeable readers who may or may not be familiar with your field (in other words, the Honors Committee).  

You may need to give some brief background information to explain the problem. What are the questions associated with this topic?  What conversation between scholars are you entering into? What is the significance of your project to the academic disciplines that consider such questions?  

Then, clarify your intentions in investigating the topics you have chosen and outline any sub-questions, hypotheses, arguments, or creative themes that will be central to your work.

Finally, describe the proposed outcome of your research: a paper of a particular length (generally at least 15 pages), a work of art, a project to be carried out on a particular schedule and documented in a particular way, etc.  

d. Research methods: This section (about one page) can help you demonstrate that your work is original and interdisciplinary and based in appropriate inquiry methods. You should answer these questions:

How will answering your question necessitate drawing on the methods or materials of two or more disciplines?

How will you gather your information? This might include a list of class sessions you will audit (include with the instructor’s signed permission), travel, interviews, or research intended to inform research or creative efforts (along with a method of documenting this effort), etc.

Be as specific as possible about your plans and the structure of the final product. 

Intellectual modesty and realism are important. Try to address or answer one valid question that can be accomplished in a few weeks’ hard work, knowing that the answer to that question will contribute to your own and your audience’s larger sense of a complex issue. If your research will require IRB approval, make note of your plans to do the necessary paperwork.

e. Schedule: Include a schedule of planned meetings between you and your faculty tutor, and make certain that your tutor/mentor knows how much of the project should be completed (books or articles read, subjects interviewed, data gathered) by each meeting time.  

f. Bibliography: A substantial list of intellectual resources that you will draw upon to enrich the project. This list should clearly exemplify the interdisciplinarity of the project and directly pertain to the research question. These resources might include a bibliography of books and articles to be read, films to be viewed, lectures or performances to be attended, interviews to be completed, etc.

g. Presentation plan: A date and place where you will present and explain the final project, such as the spring term Celebration of Learning.

h. Evaluation method: Include a chart, rubric, or list of criteria for evaluating the final product. This should be worked out together with your tutor.

i. Agreement: The proposal must be signed by you and your faculty tutor. 

3.  A copy of the proposal must be submitted electronically via email to the current Director of Honors Programs for distribution to other members of the committee.

4. You must attend any advisory meetings for Capstone students.

5. You will provide the Director of Honors with both a hard and electronic copy of your project when it is completed.

The Honors Committee realizes that capstones may alter in focus once work begins. It is perfectly normal for research projects to evolve — or even to change dramatically — as the researchers learn. However, we ask you to write a careful contract/proposal so that we know that you are likely to get off to a good start on a project that is interdisciplinary and neither too modest nor too grand to be accomplished in the scripted time.

The faculty tutor's responsibility:

The faculty tutor is crucial in guiding you as you pursue your independent research. The faculty tutor will:

1. Give you regular and genuine support during the project.

2. Act as liaison between you and any faculty member whose course might offer you class sessions or lectures to audit;

3. Assist you in finding and using other educational resources;

4. Evaluate your final Capstone project.

Arriving at the final grade

The faculty tutor must submit a final grade, either to the Records Office or to the Honors director, depending upon who is listed as the teacher of record on Arches.  A final grade for a zero-credit project is informational, while a grade for a one-credit project counts toward your GPA. If the faculty tutor feels it would be helpful, the tutor can consult with the Honors director before arriving at a grade. 

Last revised March 2021