About this Course

This website is for sections of the Worcester State University History capstone senior research seminar taught by Dr. Tona Hangen. Although the basic structure is the same from semester to semester, the topic/title changes each time. Students conduct a semester-long research inquiry in the context of a senior-level seminar course, write a 4000-5000 word original research paper, and frame their history learning and career plans in the form of an e-portfolio. Students in the course thus demonstrate their mastery of history’s disciplinary conventions and cognitive habits, and show themselves to be makers, not just consumers, of historical knowledge.

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Fall 2013 The Fifties (pilot semester) Syllabus | Capstone Paper Guidelines

Course Student Learning Outcomes

The history capstone at Worcester State is designed to help students achieve several related outcomes, some that are general to the Liberal Arts and Sciences Curriculum (LASC) or Gen Ed program, and some specific to the history degree program.

Under each stated outcome is a description of how students should be able to meet the expected standard by the end of the course.

LASC Capstone Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively orally and in writing.

Students will demonstrate effective written communication through an intensive semester-long research project design and the successful completion of a substantive original research paper. Students will also effectively communicate their professional goals and skills by creating an academic portfolio and writing a CV/resume. Students will use effective oral communication because the course is (ideally) a small seminar heavily reliant upon class discussion, presentation, and peer review.

3. Apply skills in critical thinking.

The course is organized around a semester-long original research project. Students will apply critical thinking skills in the selection, location, organization, and presentation of historical sources; in originating a persuasive, evidence-based thesis, and in crafting a high-quality paper that demonstrates strong historical thinking.

8. Understand how scholars in various disciplines approach problems and construct knowledge.

Students will identify, distinguish among, and use different schools of historiographical thought. Students will model how historians create knowledge and will develop that model on the scale of a semester-long research project. Students will also correctly use the writing, citation, and other disciplinary conventions of scholarly writing in the field of history. Since historians work primarily through the analysis of sources and the creation of interpretive historical texts, these elements of the course will provide students opportunities to practice the “habits of mind” of successful historians.

10. Make connections across courses and disciplines.

In this capstone course, students will synthesize knowledge and skills from across their coursework. Students are invited to develop meaningful connections among the courses taken not only for the major, but from throughout their previous coursework. This outcome is accomplished primarily through the portfolio, but also in class discussion and in the selection process of a relevant research topic that the student finds intellectually challenging – which is likely to develop not as an entirely new project, but as one connected to interests piqued by previous coursework and scholarly interest.

History Program Outcomes Addressed in the Capstone

4. Students will frame questions for historical research and conduct a program of research inquiry, demonstrating strong and independent research skills.

Students will formulate an effective research question that relates to the overall topic of the course, will develop a workable research strategy, understand and interpret primary sources, and situate their work within existing historical scholarship.

5. Students will create original works of historical scholarship.

Students will write a polished research paper of 4000-5000 words in length, using correct Chicago Style citation method. They may also produce intermediate writings based on their original research such as book reviews, document analysis, outlines, or preliminary drafts.

6. Students will reflect on their own learning process and become self-reliant and independent learners.

Capstone participants will develop an electronic portfolio of their work in the History major and present themselves professionally as they prepare for their chosen post-graduate pursuits, through such products as a CV, personal statement, abstract, research proposal, journal entries, or other reflective writings. By adhering to given deadlines and responding to feedback, they will enhance their research skills and become more self-aware as scholars.