Senior Capstone Project

What is an Honors Senior Capstone Project?

A senior project is the final graduation requirement for recognition or a minor in Honors. The project is an original, independently designed, concentrated work in a student’s major field or another field of interest. We call it a project and not a thesis because our capstone can be so much more than a research paper. Dream widely as you develop your Honors project! Students have taken varied and creative approaches to this requirement, including but not limited to research papers, community service, and creative works, exhibits, or performances.

Whatever form your project takes, all Honors Capstone Senior Projects include a presentation for a general audience and publication on CEDAR, the WWU Libraries archive. These steps ensure that as you complete your capstone, you’ll gain valuable skills and experience in presenting your work and preparing it for publication.

Capstone Requirements

Julie holding a piece of cake, giving a thumbs up

Meet the Honors Capstone Coordinator

Email: duggerj2@wwu.edu
Phone: 360-650-4989

Julie Dugger (she/her) grew up in 5 different towns in Washington State. She earned a B.A. from Reed College and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and since then she’s taught literature, interdisciplinary humanities, and academic, professional, and creative writing. As a scholar, she’s interested in popular literature from the 18th century to the present, with emphases in British and Irish literature, historiographical theory, genre fiction, fiction writing, the history of publishing, and political and utopian literature. Her work has appeared in MythloreThe Journal of Popular Romance Studies, and Victorian Studies, and her favorite things include a good pastry, her rose bushes, and her bicycle commute. At WWU Honors she helps coordinate Senior Projects: come and talk to her about your ideas and your logistics!

Julie Dugger, Ph.D.
Senior Instructor

General FAQ

Where can I find information about the steps to complete a capstone, including links to the webform and requirements for different steps?

On the “Project Timeline" on the Capstone Project webpage.

How do I register for credit for a senior project (HNRS 490)?

Fill out the Honors Senior Capstone Project webform and send it to your advisor to sign. After your advisor sends the form to Honors, you’ll receive an override that will allow you to register for HNRS 490.

How do I get information about signing up for a presentation, creating a poster, filing my work on CEDAR, and other capstone resources?

The Honors Senior Capstone Project webform! Once you’ve filed your form, you’ll be put on the email list for information about completing your project. Be sure to check your email regularly, especially during the quarter you complete your project.

Is it okay to use a project from my major as my Honors Senior Project?

Yes! You can use a capstone project from another program as an Honors Senior Project if approved by Honors. If you do this, your project will be credited through the other program, but you must still complete the required Capstone steps, including filing your webform, presenting your work to the public, and publishing your results on CEDAR. Please contact capstone coordinator Julie Dugger (duggerj2@wwu.edu) to discuss your project plans.

What if my major capstone is a group project? Will that still count as a capstone?

Honors Senior Projects require original, independent work. If the capstone for your other program is a group project, you can count it toward Honors by presenting on your individual contributions to the group project—that is, what aspects of the project were you most responsible for? Alternately, you can supplement your group project with individual work: for example, writing a reflective journal or filming a documentary of your group project, or completing an additional body of research related to your group work. Please discuss your plans with capstone coordinator Julie Dugger (duggerj2@wwu.edu).

Where can I apply for funding to pay expenses associated with my senior project?

WWU offers research grants for students, with information at this link: rsp.wwu.edu/research-creative-opportunities-grants-students 

The Honors College also offers limited funding specifically for Honors students: watch your email for announcements about available funds and when to apply for them.

I need some help with research. Where can I go?

In addition to talking with your advisor, you can contact one of the subject librarians at WWU for specialized assistance: library.wwu.edu/staffdirectory/subject-librarians

My project isn’t working out and I don’t know how to fix it.

You are not the first! Some people you can reach out to for help: your capstone advisor, the capstone coordinator (duggerj2@wwu.edu), or another advisor in Honors (we all enjoy talking with students about their capstone work!).

Project Timeline

Before you begin your project:

1. HNRS 390 - Capstone Project Preparation (Optional)

Honors 390 is an optional 1-credit course to help students design and execute their capstones. This course promotes an Honors community of scholars who complete a preparatory process to launch their projects.  

2. Meet with the Capstone Coordinator to discuss your ideas (Optional)

3. Decide on a project and find an advisor.

Find a faculty member who will serve as advisor to your project. Remember that if you wish to work with an Instructor, Senior Instructor, or Visiting Professor, you must obtain permission from the Honors College. Please work with Dr. Linneman or Dr. Goldman to initiate this process.

If you don’t have an advisor lined up who is an exact match for your project, try these backup strategies: 

  • Consider an advisor in an adjacent field. For example, if your project was to write a children’s book about trauma, you might consider an advisor in psychology, creative writing, or education. 
  • Think back over your college classes, work out which course work put you in a position to complete this project, and consider the professors from those classes as prospective advisors. 
  • You can also ask the advisor who won’t be available if they can recommend someone who will.

Good things to establish in your initial conversations with your advisor include:         

  • How many credits will you take, and when do you plan to complete your project? 
  • How often will you meet with your advisor? 
  • When and how will you and your advisor exchange work and feedback? 
  • What do you expect to complete as a finished project?

With your advisor, decide on the subject, form, and credit allotment for your project. Credits should be based on the scope of the project, the space you have in your schedule, and the number of quarters that you plan to work on your project. Remember you may take 1-4 credits in a single quarter, repeatable until you have reached the maximum number of credits allowed (8 credits total).

4. Complete the Honors Senior Capstone webform

Complete the Honors Senior Capstone Project webform and send it to your advisor to be signed and forwarded to Honors. This step is required of all students, even those who will be credited through other departments.

5. Register for Honors 490 (Senior Project). You must complete your capstone webform to receive your registration override.

After Honors approves your capstone webform, you’ll receive the override that allows you to register for HNRS 490. Register for the number of credits approved on your form.

If your capstone project is doubling as your departmental thesis/project, your home department may require you to enroll in departmental research credits instead of HNRS 490, and you must obtain approval from the Honors College before completing your webform. Please work with Dr. Dugger to initiate this process.

During the quarter in which you plan to complete your project:

6. Work on your project and communicate with your advisor. 

7. Sign up for a presentation time.

A link to sign up for a presentation time (a 45-minute time slot) will be sent to you during the quarter you are presenting.

8. Create a presentation poster

Posters must be in portrait orientation, 8 ½” x 11”, and both a pdf AND jpeg of your poster need to be submitted.

Poster must include the following information:

  • Your name 
  • Presentation title
  • Short description (optional, but encouraged) 
  • Date 
  • Time 
  • Location
  • Advisor name 
  • “For disability accommodations please email honors@wwu.edu 

In addition to your poster, you must also send accompanying alternative text. Alt text serves several functions, but a HUGE one is that it is read by screen readers in place of images allowing the content of the image to be accessible. Remember that the more complicated poster design = lengthier alt text. Learn more about alt text.

Example:

Image removed.

An orange and blue poster with two fish depicted of differing lengths and a genome sequencing. The text reads "Interdisciplinary Study of Genetically Modified Salmon and their Effects on the Environment and Indigenous Communities. By Victoria Fair and Kaydee Mittleider. Advised by M.J. Mosher. Thursday, March 17th, 2022. 9:00 AM. OM 330C and on Zoom. For disability accommodations, please email honors@wwu.edu"

9. Complete your presentation.

Each presentation period is 45 minutes, but you should allow 15 minutes of that time for an introduction from Honors and a friendly question-and-answer session. Plan on a formal presentation of 25-30 minutes. 

You’re encouraged to invite family, friends, and colleagues! This is a celebration of your senior project accomplishments.

Presentations are for a general audience! This is an opportunity to gain experience sharing your work with a non-expert public. Avoid jargon and technical terms unless they’re necessary for your presentation, in which case you’ll want to define and explain them. You’ll also need to explain specialist practices or knowledge you mastered along the way.   

Presentations can take a variety of forms: think about the best way to communicate what you’ve learned. While a standard academic PowerPoint presentation is perfectly acceptable, don’t be afraid to be creative if you’re so inclined! Past presentations have included: 

  • a live reading at which the audience was asked to read different parts in a screenplay 
  • music performance 
  • video screening 
  • commissioned fan art to illustrate a final project  
  • a mathematical lesson plan taught during the presentation, with the audience as students 
  • a before-and-after slide comparing a poem at the draft stage and after revision 

Recommended rather than required: although there are exceptions, keep in mind it’s more difficult for an audience to follow content when it’s read aloud than when it’s spoken. You’re welcome to bring any memory aid you like, but when possible it’s better to work from notes than to read out a fully-written paper. Similarly, audiences love hearing creative work read aloud, but consider keeping excerpts short or displaying your reading on slides so the audience can follow along while you read. Some students also intersperse reading selections with spoken commentary. 

10. Resubmit your Honors Senior Capstone webform with an abstract and your final project to be published on CEDAR.

Create an abstract for your finished project: Guidelines for abstracts

After your presentation, Honors will return your capstone webform to you for completion. Include your final project for publication with your webform, and after it’s approved by your advisor and Honors, it will be published on CEDAR.

Your advisor’s sign-off ensures that your work meets disciplinary standards for student work. Honors will check for the following before signing off: 

  • Your work should meet the project standards you indicated in your proposal (or an appropriate alternative, since most projects do change along the way). 

  • Your work should stand on its own. While projects may take many forms, the final product you publish on CEDAR should be independently accessible to an audience. For example, a research paper, a novella, or a curated collection of visual images with an artist’s statement would be considered independently accessible. A science poster or a slide presentation that required explanation from the researcher or author would not; neither would a series of visual images with no context. 

Remember that CEDAR capstone publications are student work. They are not expected to meet professional standards (although some do), and you don’t need to surpass the goals set by you and your advisor. 

Not yet! When your webform is returned to you for completion after your presentation, instead of attaching your final project, please include a note that outlines your plans for publication, and attach any sample materials you are willing to publish (for example, a first chapter and synopsis for a full-length book). Honors will file your project with a placeholder. When you eventually publish your work, please contact Honors so we can link it to your CEDAR information.