In 2011, the Department of Human Biosciences introduced two physiology capstone subjects as part of the Design for Learning Project at La Trobe University. Consistent with the project, the aims of these subjects were to provide an effective culmination point for the Bachelor of Health Science course and to offer students orientation to opportunities for further study, employment and career development. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the skills-related assessment tasks of the newly introduced capstone program and an evaluation of the capstone program based on student performance and feedback scores in conjunction with staff perceptions. The skills-related assessment tasks were designed to facilitate the development of research skills and graduate capabilities such as writing, speaking, creative problem-solving, inquiry/research and team work. Student performance determined by mean scores on the skills-based assessment tasks ranged from A to C. Final grades were significantly higher (p < 0.01) in 2011 when compared with final grades in 2010 and 2009. Students reported that the skills-based assessments contributed to their learning and skill development and satisfaction level was high. Staff noted a higher degree of student-centred learning, a vastly increased workload and a greater need for infrastructure services and support staff. Universities and departments should therefore consider staff and resource requirements when implementing curriculum that has a student-centred approach. In conclusion, the revised curriculum successfully promoted the development of research skills and graduate capabilities, thereby leading to work-readiness and/or entry to graduate studies in the Health and Biological Sciences.
Recommended CitationJulien, Brianna L. PhD; Lexis, Louise PhD; Schuijers, Johannes PhD; Samiric, Tom PhD; and McDonald, Stuart PhD, Using capstones to develop research skills and graduate capabilities: A case study from physiology, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 9(3), 2012.