August 24, 2016

LACEY, Wash. – An emerging development in the academic world is the “capstone” experience, an opportunity for seniors to demonstrate mastery of their major field of study through a culminating project as they complete their undergraduate degree.

On Sept. 23, Saint Martin’s University will host the Northwest Summit for Teaching Senior Capstones 2016, a one-day workshop that will bring together capstone experts and social science faculty and instructors to brainstorm about capstones and share ideas about their successes and challenges.

The summit is sponsored by a Society of the Teaching of Psychology Partnership Grant awarded last spring to Saint Martin’s psychology faculty members Associate Prof. Jeremy Newton, Ph.D., and Assistant Prof. Tiffany Artime, Ph.D. Registration and more information can be found at www.stmartin.edu/northwest-capstone.

"Capstone experiences for seniors are an innovative way to pull together a student’s learning over the course of his or her major and prepare for the future. It can be a critical and significant step to synthesizing the major,” says Tiffany Artime, Ph.D., who is now teaching at Pacific Lutheran University, a participant in the summit.

Saint Martin’s University now uses capstone courses in many of its classes. Among the summit’s goals are establishing partnerships across institutions to identify best practices and discuss ways to overcome challenges, she said.

"We hope that this workshop can provide concrete, useful information to academic departments for creating, revising, and assessing their capstones for effectiveness as they learn from experts and from each other,” Artime said.

For capstone experiences to be effective, they must be carefully and strategically planned and implemented, then thoroughly reviewed when they are finished. A valuable aspect of capstone courses is that, through their students’ performance, the capstone experience provides valuable feedback about the effectiveness and quality of their institution’s academic programs.

Leading the summit are two educators who have extensive experience researching and teaching about capstones, and their creation and assessment in the social sciences, she said. Both have served as mentors and advisors to other psychology faculty members nationwide through the Society for the Teaching of Psychology National Capstone Project.

They are:

  • Patricia A. Marsh, Ph.D., senior data analyst with Arizona State University’s Office of Scholarship. Marsh’s doctorate from Kansas State University in social/personality psychology centered on studying assessment of student learning. That skill has been a key part of her career, which has spanned work as a faculty member, administrator and researcher and has included teaching and assessing capstone coursework.
  • Kristin A. Wesner, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Clarke University, Dubuque, Iowa. Her teaching experiences include senior capstone courses, statistics and research methods at public and private universities with diverse populations of students. She was a contributor to the Society for the Teaching of Psychology National Capstone Project, which explored the varied capstone experiences at numerous institutions.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

To register yourself and your colleagues for the event, please visit the Capstone registration page.

For more information:
Jeremy Newton, Ph.D.
Associate Prof. of Psychology
360-412-6133; jnewton@stmartin.edu

Deanna Partlow
Interim Media Relations Manager
360 412-6126; dpartlow@stmartin.edu