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Tales of Teaching Online podcast: Episode 48

3 June 2022

Designing a capstone program to change a school’s culture

In episode 48 of the Tales of Teaching Online podcast Laura Tubino speaks to Associate Professor Andrew Cain about how Deakin’s School of IT is using their capstone program to change the school’s culture.

Changes to the capstone program

The School of IT capstone program is transforming into a showcase experience. Students can observe and interact with the program to better understand what they are working towards and what they will be able to achieve at the end of their degree. 

Changes to the capstone program started some years ago with changes to assessment. Across the School of IT, assessment is moving towards a student-driven approach where students can choose the grade they aim to achieve. This model also provides students with the autonomy to choose how they will demonstrate learning outcomes at different levels.

The structure of the capstone program has also changed from 70 project teams each with 10 students, to six student-led companies each with 120 students. These companies bring together all students in the School of IT, both undergraduate and postgraduate, from all different courses.

Next steps for the capstone

The next step is to bring students into the capstone companies earlier. The first connection with the capstone will be through a second year unit that will get students to observe the capstone companies in action and reflect on teamwork, roles and structure. There are also opportunities for students to become interns in these capstone companies. Once this inclusion of second year students is established, more opportunities will be designed to include first year students in the companies so they can get a clear picture of where their studies are heading.

Promising feedback

So far, the results are promising. All six capstone companies are up and running and the student-centred assessment model has led to students finding interesting and unexpected initiatives to demonstrate achievement of course learning outcomes. These student initiatives have not been limited to capstone company work, they have extended to student conferences, guest speakers and communities of practice. All these have been student driven and self-organised, which reinforces the idea that students can take responsibility when given the opportunity. 

Listen to episode 48 of the Tales of Teaching Online podcast for the full conversation.

Access transcript.

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