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Washington State University
UCORE: University Common Requirements Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Integrative Capstone [CAPS]

Course designator within the area of Integrative Learning

CAPS courses provide a culminating student experience for seniors that asks them to demonstrate integrative learning. Students draw on the skills needed to develop their own research or creative project, and to initiate investigations and explorations of open-ended issues and problems. Courses feature a substantial work product (such as a presentation, paper, creative artifact, team project) for evaluation and assessment.

Given their special position within the curriculum, CAPS courses carry a strong responsibility to provide evidence of student achievement of the learning goals.

View approved CAPS courses

Required Elements for all CAPS Courses

All CAPS courses are required to:

  • Meet the basic requirements for all UCORE courses: written communication, critical and creative thinking, information literacy, and assessment / evidence of student progress toward learning goals. CAPS courses may also target Quantitative Reasoning, Science Literacy, multi-model communication and/or Diversity, as appropriate to disciplinary context.
  • Require students to demonstrate Integrative Learning:

    1. By showing a depth of knowledge within the chosen academic field of study based on integration, for example, of its history, core methods, techniques, vocabulary, and unsolved problems, OR
    2. By applying the concepts of their general and specialized studies to personal, academic, service learning, professional, and/or community activities, OR
    3. By integrating methods and concepts of the chosen discipline with those of other disciplines and engaging in cross-disciplinary activities. 

The UCORE committee suggests that CAPS courses and assignments intentionally offer students:

  • Authentic, contextualized experiences or complex scenarios.
  • Independence and agency, with feedback along the way.
  • Opportunities to integrate and extend prior learning, and to use critical inquiry.

Whether submitting a course for the first time or resubmitting an updated course as part of the UCORE committee’s periodic re-review, faculty should submit a completed CAPS Learning Outcomes Grid embedded in the course syllabus in order to demonstrate clearly the relationship among WSU/UCORE learning goals, UCORE category designation learning outcomes, course learning outcomes, assignments, and assessment of student learning. Consult the sample ROOT syllabus with embedded learning outcomes grid as a model.

The following policies are required of CAPS courses:

  • Must be offered at the 400 (senior) course level.
  • Students must have at least junior-level standing as a general prerequisite (senior-level standing strongly preferred).
  • Must be offered “in residence.”

Also see departmental CAPS policies as outlined in the Policy section.

Assignment Design

Your CAPS course must identify a specific, culminating student work product (presentation, paper, creative artifact, team project) that can be assessed for the UCORE curriculum. Course proposals and renewal requests must indicate how this artifact demonstrates achievement of CAPS outcomes and how the student work product is evaluated to determine level of achievement. (If a rubric or rating scale or other evaluative tool already exists for this assignment, please include it with the proposal.) For greater detail on designing and assessing CAPS courses, consult assignment design and teaching resources.

As noted in the Policy section, ideally, CAPS courses keep enrollments to less than 50 students. If a CAPS course will be a large-enrollment course, the course proposal should indicate how the evaluation of assignments will be structured to meet the learning outcomes, provide feedback to students along the way, and to deal with the realities of faculty time.

Assessment Tools / Rubrics

Some departments have well-developed rubrics or other rating schemes for capstone level work, particularly for their majors. As you are developing assessment criteria and grading schemes, please check with your department, especially if majors will take your course. In addition, it’s recommended you review the short assessment report form for UCORE (see “Participating in CAPS assessment” below); this will allow you to plan your assessment and grading to align with the requested information. Faculty who do so typically find they can quickly assess their class’s performance and complete the UCORE report at the end of the semester.

To assist with developing evaluation criteria, faculty may adapt the VALUE Rubrics developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. A number of WSU departments have adapted VALUE rubrics for assessment of their majors. See UCORE’s assessment website for more information.

  • Integrative Learning
  • Oral Communication
  • Information Literacy
  • Written Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Teamwork
  • Creative Thinking
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Ethical Reasoning
  • Quantitative Literacy
  • Integrative Learning
  • Information Literacy
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creative Thinking
  • Ethical Reasoning
  • Oral Communication
  • Written Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Quantitative Literacy

When a department offers a CAPS-designated course, it agrees to participate in UCORE CAPS assessment reporting each semester. Together, evidence from CAPS courses contributes to an overall understanding of how well students are being served by the current WSU curriculum, including its general education component.

CAPS courses provide evidence to internal and external stakeholders that students are meeting the learning outcomes of the UCORE general education program and of the 7 Learning Goals of Undergraduate Education.

In teaching—or designing and proposing—a CAPS course, careful thought must be given to providing an integrative, culminating experience and to the related student work product(s) that will demonstrate achievement of the course’s outcomes. The UCORE assessment process looks for proficiency achievement (for example, meets expectations for graduating senior) for this culminating aspect of the undergraduate academic experience. 

CAPS Faculty Report

Each semester, CAPS instructors complete a short report assessing student performance in their class on CAPS-UCORE learning goals, a course-embedded direct measure of student work based on the instructor’s expert judgment. Instructors also identify changes made or planned in the CAPS course influenced by assessment results. Begun in 2015, this regular assessment reporting process is currently managed by the Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning, which collects and analyzes the data for UCORE. CAPS report summaries and related information are available on the UCORE Assessment website.

  • As you plan or revise your CAPS syllabus, grading, and assessment, please take a few minutes to review the short report form for UCORE; this will allow you to develop assessment and grading that aligns with the requested information. Faculty who do so typically find they can quickly complete the UCORE report at the end of the semester. You can view the report template (and recent results) for CAPS on the UCORE assessment website.
  • CAPS instructors are encouraged to share their UCORE assessment reports with their department and undergraduate assessment coordinator, particularly for UCORE CAPS courses in the major, as the data may also contribute to program-level assessment. The Office of Assessment of Teaching and Learning is a resource to help faculty coordinate approaches to CAPS assessment for UCORE and undergraduate degrees.
  • National Survey of Student Engagement: CAPS instructors are asked to encourage seniors in their CAPS courses to complete the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE)—offered bi-annually, spring semester only—by sharing slides and other promotional materials provided by UCORE in their classes. NSSE asks students about their academic experiences and perceived gains on key skills. Results are summarized for the university and UCORE, and disaggregated for colleges and departments / majors, if response rates are adequate. See UCORE’s Assessment website for more about NSSE and the years it is offered at WSU, and to view results from seniors in past years.
  • Other: Periodically, as assessment questions and needs evolve, UCORE may collect additional measures, with some assistance from CAPS faculty. For example, samplings of identified student work may be collected and rated by an all-university group, or students or faculty may participate in a survey or focus group.