My unfinished capstone

Pencil eraser

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As an experiment I compiled and annotated sources on a sample Senior Seminar topic.   You can read the short bibliography  in a supplemental post following this one.  How did the experiment turn out otherwise?

After discarding some ideas I finally looked at the use of hybrid texts as a bridge to academic English.  The discards brought home the need for time and space to develop a topic.  Librarians, according to Nutefall and Ryder (2010), favor developing a topic early, while writing faculty favor finalizing the question later.  I would advocate starting the process early,  but allowing for many iterations.  Fortunately the course included multiple iterations.

The experience also showed me the value of conversation and feedback in developing a topic.  When I was a student, I would get feedback from my instructors and peers.  Since I didn’t have such feedback in this case, I noticed that ideas were harder to bring together.

I couldn’t help but think of transfer students as well.  The LAC themes are rich, and finding an individual take on any one of them is challenging–even for someone immersed in them.  Imagine the learning curve for someone who has not been exposed to the themes for four years.

Perhaps a focused orientation prior to the start of the semester would benefit Senior Sem students.  This idea was actually one of my discards: do I detect a future project here?  Maybe my true capstone work has just begun.


Nutefall, J. E., & Ryder, P.M. (2010). The timing of the research question: First-year writing faculty and instruction librarians’ differing perspectives. Portal: Libraries and the Academy,

10(4), 437-449. doi: 10.1353/pla.2010.0009