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At Oregon State University, capstone projects serve as a culminating experience for students to integrate and apply the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout their academic program. Capstone projects take on many forms, including applied research projects, design projects, performances, exhibits, clinical experiences, internships, community service projects, and more. All capstone projects are intended to allow students the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the learning outcomes for their degree through an intensive project or experience.

The evaluation and grading of capstone projects at OSU is meant to provide students with meaningful feedback on their work while also assigning a final grade that reflects their capstone achievement. The process involves several key stages and participants to ensure rigorous and fair assessment.

When students enroll in their capstone course, they work closely with a capstone advisor who is typically a faculty member in their major/program. The capstone advisor helps the student develop a clear capstone proposal that identifies the project goals, activities, timeline, and expected outcomes or deliverables. The proposal establishes the scope and expectations for the project that will guide the subsequent evaluation. The capstone advisor is responsible for approving the proposal.

Once the proposal is approved, students carry out their capstone work over the course of a term or academic year, depending on the program. They continue meeting regularly with their capstone advisor for guidance, feedback, and to discuss progress. The capstone advisor monitors the student’s work throughout and may periodically assess elements like preliminary drafts, updates, or work samples using rubrics. Their ongoing input helps students stay on track to meet expectations.

When the capstone work is complete, most programs require students to present their final project or experience to an evaluation committee. Committees typically include the capstone advisor along with other relevant faculty, community partners, or professionals. Committee membership varies by department but aims to bring diverse perspectives relevant to evaluating the work.

The purpose of the capstone presentation is for students to demonstrate how they addressed the proposal goals, to discuss what they learned, and to take questions. Presentations may take the form of reports, posters, performances, demonstrations, or other appropriate formats. Committees often use standardized rubrics to assess all required elements and provide structured feedback.

Following the presentation, committees convene privately to determine two key outcomes – whether the project met the minimum standards to pass, and the overall letter grade. Checklists and rubrics are again used to structure this discussion. Committees consider how well students demonstrated attainment of learning outcomes, the level of analysis, rigor of work, depth of insight, and overall achievement relative to expectations. The capstone advisor’s ongoing input and assessment carries substantial weight.

Once determined by consensus, evaluation committees submit their results including pass/no pass and the letter grade directly to the academic program. Programs have discretion over final grade assignment according to their policies. Grades may factor in both the committee’s recommendation and input from the capstone advisor over the full project duration. The program notifies students of the official results.

Students who do not pass either present again or are asked to improve deficiencies, depending on issues. Those dissatisfied with grades may follow standard departmental protocols for grade appeals. The multi-step evaluation process with involvement from advisor and committee aims to provide robust yet constructive judgment of student capstone work at OSU. The assessment is criterion-based to ensure consistency and fairness across projects and academic years.

Capstone experiences represent the pinnacle of a OSU student’s undergraduate education. The detailed grading process helps validate and recognize each student’s demonstration of expertise through a project designed, executed and presented according to expectations established within their own chosen field or discipline. Through capstones, OSU prepares graduates not just with specialized knowledge but also the higher-order skills of self-directed application to serve them in their careers and communities.