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Pedagogical framework for delivering a high quality capstone experience for double degree students

Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 10:30am – 11:00am parallel session



Room 11 – 303-B11 Sem



Dr Elizabeth Levin
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Dr Kourosh Dini
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia



There are several forms of capstone projects, such as magnet capstones which draw together discipline knowledge; mountain top capstones which are interdisciplinary in design; or combinations (Bailey, van Acker, and Fyffe, 2013). Capstones are used as stepping stones from university to the workplace with students expected to integrate their learning to complete projects. In a double degree combining Engineering and Business, a joint Capstone experience has been developed whereby about 100 students annually. complete a research project which inextricably links both disciplines.


The initiative

There is little written on the pedagogy of capstones, more specifically how to prepare and develop those involved in teaching and/or supervising such cross-disciplinary initiatives. Organising appropriate academic supervision for these projects has been challenging and has affected the student learning experience. Students have two supervisors for their projects, one from each discipline area. However, we have found that ‘it is hard to teach old dogs new tricks’. Engineering academics have supervised final year projects for many years, but changing the project focus from a single discipline to cross-disciplinary, and adding in a research component has not been an easy process.



The authors have undertaken a qualitative study aimed at improving the student and teaching staff experience with the aim of developing a pedagogical framework. Data was collected from 8 rounds of student evaluations as well through interviews with over 20 experienced academic supervisors.



This year a much more structured and strategic approach has been adopted based on findings from the interviews such as facilitation of discussions between students and both of their supervisors from the beginning of the year. Early results indicate that students and academics are welcoming this coordinated approach. The ultimate aim is to create a pedagogical framework to guide supervisors, so that holistic outcomes can be achieved, in a context that respects and appreciates the cross-disciplinary nature of the problem and gives students an optimal experience in their final year of study.



Bailey, J., van Acker, E. and Fyffe, J., (2013). Capstone courses in undergraduate business degrees. Canberra: Australian Learning and Teaching Council.
Deloitte Access Economics, 2017. Soft skills for business success.


Presentation topic

Academics – Changing Academic Practice

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