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.
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.
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:
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