Capstone Guidelines

The purpose of the capstone in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is for students to undertake an independent project that applies and synthesizes what they have learned in their major(s).

In one of their final two semesters at Drake, seniors are expected to complete a capstone project for each department major. One outcome will be a written project that can take several forms, for example a research paper, a software package, or lesson plans. A second outcome is a presentation of their work to the students and faculty of the department, usually during the last two weeks of the semester.

The selection of a faculty sponsor is a crucial part of the capstone project. Not only can their advice be very helpful, but early, careful planning with the sponsor will ensure a successful capstone project. For students doing more than one capstone, joint projects are possible, subject to sponsor approval. The understanding is that the work put into a joint capstone should be commensurate with the number of majors (for example, the work put into a capstone counting for two majors should be roughly twice as much as for a single capstone). Capstones are graded pass-fail.

Each year the department schedules a capstone course which seniors are strongly encouraged, but not required, to take. The faculty member assigned to teach this course also serves as the capstone coordinator for the entire academic year.

Capstone Requirements for the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science

  1. Each capstone student (student doing a capstone) must have a faculty sponsorfor his or her capstone project. It is the student's responsibility to find a sponsor within the department. After the student has decided upon a project and sponsor, he or she must send an email to the capstone coordinator no later than the 3rd week of the semester in which they intend to complete their capstone,stating their capstone sponsor and the title of their project, with a cc sent to the sponsor. The capstone coordinator will confirm receipt. Failure to file this email with the capstone coordinator could result in the completion of the capstone being delayed one semester.
  2. Each capstone student must write the equivalent of a 6-8 page single spaced paper. The appropriate form of the paper (research paper, software manual, etc.) will be determined by the student and sponsor. Mathematics for Secondary Education majors are required to produce a series of lesson plans which are described below.
  3. Each capstone student will make a short, final presentation to the department describing their project. Generally, the department finds a day near the end of the semester where the students and faculty of the department get together to listen to the student presentations. The capstone coordinator will schedule the presentations.
  4. The department feels that revision is an essential part of a research project. Hence capstone students are required to submit a draft of their project to their sponsor in time for her or him to give the student useful feedback before the final submission of their written project. Students will also schedule a run-through of their presentation with their sponsor. The run-through should be completed at least one week prior to the presentation.
  5. Each capstone student will submit a final version of their paper to their sponsor. The student will schedule the due date with their sponsor.
  6. The capstone sponsor in consultation with the department will determine whether or not the student hassatisfied the requirements for the capstone.
  7. Duties of the faculty sponsor include:
    1. Receiving and approving a proposal for the project.
    2. Receiving and giving feedback, direction, etc. on the progress of the project and paper. This includes working with the student to ensure they are satisfying the capstone requirements.
    3. Observing the practice run of the presentation and suggesting improvements for the final presentation.
    4. Receiving and reading the final draft of the paper.
    5. Determining if the student has satisfied the requirements of the project.

Additional Guidelines for the Mathematics for Secondary Education majors:

Each capstone student may choose to write three lesson plans for a content area or areas designated by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for grades 9 through 12. Lesson plans for grade 6 through 8 are admissible for those students pursuing a middle grades endorsement.

The capstone student will demonstrate a deep and flexible understanding of the mathematical topics contained in the lesson plans as well as the relevant connections to college level coursework (Math 101, 153, 155, 157, Stat 71). In addition, considerations for both struggling and advanced students will be incorporated in the lesson plans.

Lastly, each capstone student is expected to incorporate mathematics education research, best teaching practices, and innovative approaches to curricular design in order to develop lesson plans that both engage students in the learning process and elicit student thinking as articulated by the CCSS’ Mathematical Practices.

Academic Integrity

The Capstone is considered scholarly work, and capstone students should respect their own research as well as the standards typical for scholarly work. In scholarly work, portraying someone else's work as your own is considered a capital offense and is often career ending. Therefore, capstone projects will be held to strict standards. If a student is caught plagiarizing or violating standards of academic integrity, they will fail the capstone, and the incident will be reported to the Arts and Sciences Dean's Office as required by the College of Arts and Sciences.

For information on what constitutes a violation of academic integrity, see the Arts and Sciences Policies and Regulations. In addition, the following are considered violations of academic integrity:

  1. Submitting a capstone that was given in another department without approval from the student's capstone sponsor.
  2. Using material from another student's capstone, without acknowledgement.
  3. Passing off existing material as one's own work. In general, if a statement is not footnoted, quoted, attributed, remarked upon in comments or somehow acknowledged, it should be the student's own work.
  4. Cutting and pasting from the Internet. Anything over three words that is not the student's own wording needs to be attributed.

Students will be required to sign an honor statement stating that they both understand and will adhere to the standards of academic integrity listed above.

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, 2012-13

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