Writing a Capstone Project: Tips from 3 Pros

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Writing a Capstone Project: Tips from 3 Pros

Learning how to write a capstone project is usually a requirement for passing a specialized course.  In fact, capstone projects are often directly associated with writing a major paper while in a Master's Degree program (though you do not necessarily need to be involved in a Master's Degree program to be required to write one of these papers).  Oftentimes, honors-level courses will require the successful completion of a capstone project in order to finalize the class.

Since the requirement to write a capstone project can be associated with a wide variety of different courses and subject areas, the precise requirements for completion of a capstone project may vary according to the course and the instructor or instructors that will be assessing the project.  Regardless, capstone project writing should help you with solving a real problem or with meeting a real challenge within a particular area of study.  As such, the general topic of the capstone project may be assigned to you or you may be called upon to develop your own topic for the project.

Since the written portion of a capstone project is generally quite large and contains forty or more pages of written work, it is essential to devote a substantial amount of time to the research and writing.

While a major paper in a Master's Degree program will tend to be informative, a capstone project should be more applied.  In other words, your report should be able to demonstrate your understanding of the concept as well as how the concept can be put to work with real-life applications.

After determining the topic that you will be exploring when writing a final report, you will then need to conduct research into the topic.  By reading a substantial amount of literature regarding the topic, you will be able to develop your thesis statement.  Your thesis statement is the one sentence that describes what your entire capstone project will be about.  All subsequent information in your capstone project should then support your thesis statement.

Once you have determined your thesis statement, you will need to thoroughly research the topic in order to find information that will support your statement and general capstone project writing.  While you will need to present facts that you have found through your research, you will also need to interpret those facts and draw reasonable conclusions concerning how these facts can apply to real life situations.  A well-written capstone project will need to include plenty of facts to support your interpretations.

Since a capstone project is a rather lengthy paper, it will take careful planning and organization in order to make sure the ideas flow together properly and result in a well-written report.  Therefore, once you have gathered your research material, you should create an outline for the document.  Each step of the outline should transition smoothly into the next in a logical fashion, with all steps helping to support the thesis statement.

Once you finish writing a final report, it is important to proofread for mistakes and for flow.  Most people find it helpful to complete the report and then wait several days before rereading it, as this helps them look at the report with "fresh eyes," which makes it easier to spot mistakes.

Viewpoint of Author #2

A capstone project is a research and writing assignment that a learner will generally write as part of a graduate degree program.  Capstone projects are assignments in which a student researches a particular subject in-depth and then writes an extended paper about the particular subject.  

When a student begins work on his or her final report, the first step is to define what research he or she will undertake.  The student will then research the subject using books and other references.  However, the learner will not generally perform experiments as part of his or her capstone projects.  

Each capstone project needs to have a thesis that the learner will defend in the body of the work.  This thesis should be based on the accumulation of research that the student has performed.

Any course can have a capstone project.  Also, learners can work on more than one capstone project during their academic careers.  However, learners will only write one capstone project paper per course and, in many cases, graduate degree programs only require that students work on capstone projects for upper-level and very specific courses.  Therefore, while a student might work on several capstone projects during his or her career, many learners will only work on one capstone project at a time.  

While students in graduate school are required to write a wide variety of papers, a capstone project is different from other types of writing assignments because it is very research-intensive.  When a student commits to writing about a particular subject in his or her final report, the student is committing to study the subject for an extended period of time, which may even be an entire semester or year (depending on the course).

Capstone projects are similar to term papers in many ways.  Both are written works that a pupil writes after a long period of study (usually at the end of a semester).  The most important difference between the two assignments is that capstone projects are practical documents that learners write in order to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge about a subject.  They are neither opinion-based nor do they serve as a medium for a learner to demonstrate critical thinking skills.  Term papers, however, often require learners to not only demonstrate their knowledge of a subject, but also to use critical thinking skills to analyze information or documents.  

Furthermore, capstone projects are also usually assigned in graduate programs while term papers may be assigned during any level of academic program, including high school and undergraduate school.

Viewpoint of Author #3

Capstone projects are articles that students need to write after spending an extended amount of time researching one particular subject for a course.  In most cases, learners will write capstone project reports for undergraduate courses.  In many senses, capstone projects are very similar to thesis projects and may also be the last document that a learner will write in order to graduate from a Master's program, depending on the unique definition used by a school or a professor.

Regardless of the definition of a final report, all students should take the same course in order to research and write the document.  The first step is to understand the project requirements.  In many cases with final reports, learners will not only need to research a topic in books and other printed materials, but students may also have to perform hands-on research, such as research through an internship or experiments.  

Once a student understands the requirements of the final report, the student sure be sure that he or she understands the topic that he or she will focus on throughout the capstone project.  This is the topic that the learner will spend a great deal of time over the course of the semester researching.  

During the research for the final reports, students need to keep detailed journals of their discoveries.  These journals will help learners to stay organized and remember what they have learned.  These journals will also make the writing process easier and faster.  

Once the student has completed his or her research, the student should write an outline for the capstone projects paper.  The outline will provide a guideline that students need to follow as they complete their documents.  The outline will also serve as the starting point to the actual writing.

Only after a student has completed an outline for the capstone projects report should the student actually begin to write the document.  The report should have many drafts completed before the student turns it in for a grade.  Therefore, students need to make sure that they allow plenty of time for edits.  

While a capstone project is very similar to a Master's thesis, there is often a difference.  In many cases, a capstone project is not just a paper; it is also an actual project that requires hands-on experience by the pupil.  A masters thesis does not always require hands-on experience and often relies solely on research.

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