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Maxwell School
Maxwell / Public Affairs

Honors Capstone Project In Policy Studies

Who is eligible to participate?

If you a Policy Studies Major and are in the Renée Crown University Honors Program, you can work with Professor Coplin and the Public Affairs Program to do a CAPSTONE PROJECT. You must be certified by the Honors Program that you are on schedule to complete all other requirements, and you must have the required overall 3.4 GPA at the time you submit your proposal.  In addition, you must have completed PAF 315 with a grade no lower than an A-.

Carefully, read all of the information on the Honor's Website about the Capstone project. Work with your Honors' adviser to make sure you have done everything necessary and to answer questions Professor Coplin may have about the process.

Start talking with Professor Coplin as early as possible about your project.  As soon as you have an idea of what you might want to do, even if it is in your freshman year, make an appointment to explore the possibilities. Email him with questions and to set up an appointment at wdcoplin@syr.edu. Carol Dwyer provides additional academic support to students pursuing the project as do other Policy Studies faculty throughout the University.  See critical guidelines below for the Capstone Project proposal. Professor Coplin will not sign the paperwork from the Honors Program until he receives an adequate proposal.

 

What are the Guidelines for Preparing the Capstone Project Proposal?

A Capstone Project for Policy Studies study can be either a (1) research or (2) action problem.  The difference should be clear in your statement of the problem.

  1. A research problem is one in which you are providing information and analysis to describe and/or explain a societal problem or policies attempting to ameliorate a societal problem.  The major effort is on reading and synthesizing existing research, and gathering and reporting information that supports or challenges the existing research.  For example, you could state as your research problem "to assess the degree to which parental influence effects the academic achievement of their children."

  2. An action problem would be to develop, implement and assess a new or revised program. You may start a chess club at a community center, for example, and then assess its impact on academic performance. In this case, your "problem" is to develop and test a solution. Action Capstone Problems require research on what has been done in the past, and data collection and analysis on the impact of your idea.  Obviously, you will have had to create the program prior to your senior year because the program must be in existence to do the work required for the Capstone Project. 

Although the two problem statements have a different primary purpose, they are not completely different.  A research problem should produce action solutions that you may even begin to test by asking stakeholders, experts and players.  An action problem requires solid research before, during and after the action phase.

Once your topic has been approved, you will develop a formal proposal of 8-17 pages in length that must be submitted to Professor Coplin no later than October 1, if you are graduating in May or Jan. 30, if you are graduating in December.  Since a proposal usually takes one semester to produce, you must start the discussion no later than six months before that deadline. 

Complete all the written material for the Capstone Project one month prior to graduation, that is, April 1st for May graduation or November 20th for December graduation.

Your Capstone Project proposal should provide the following. Import this entire document into a word file and boldface it.  Then write your responses un-bolded under each category.

  1. Title
  2. Intended Audience
  3. Problem Statement: (What problem does your written Capstone Project seek to address in no more than 100 words?) Check one: __Primarily Research  __Primarily Action
  4. Sections Topics and Estimated Pages: (Your Capstone Project must have the following topics but you will need to add others, including specific appendices)
  5. Executive Summary: 1 page draft
  6. Introduction: In 1-3 pages, state how the topic was selected; what you hope to accomplish for yourself with your project and how the project will be useful.
  7. Literature Review: In 2-5 pages, detail how you will find similar projects and research related to your work. Describe at least three publications that are related or similar. Indicate how many more you plan to include in your Capstone Project.
  8. Findings: In 2-5 pages, identify the types of findings you expect to report. If you are collecting original data, this will be similar to a 315 Project. If you are producing a product that will be used to run a program (like mentoring for example), describe the material you will produce, how you will conduct your project and how you will evaluate it.
  9. Recommendation for Further Products or Studies: In 1-2 pages, suggest how your anticipated findings will yield recommendations for additional or revised products or research.
  10. List of Appendices: In 1 page, list items in the appendix. In some cases such as producing manuals or research protocols and raw data, the appendices may be longer than and as important as the sections above.
  11. Submit a one page agenda: This must follow the 315 agenda format. Your proposal should starts with the date the proposal is to be approved and end with the date of the submission of the final product.
    1. Date you will finish the first draft of the introduction and literature review.
    2. Date you will finish the first draft of the findings and recommendations for further products or research studies.
    3. Dates you will finish the final versions of the appendices (list of each appendix and the date may be before the drafts listed above)
    4. Date you will submit the final draft of the entire project
    5. Date you will receive revisions from your faculty and readers
    6. Date you will submit the revision
    7. If also submitting to satisfy the Renee Crown Honors Program, the dates course requirements are to be completed and other submission and presentation dates required by that program.