What is a Capstone Project: Capstone Research Tackles Big Classroom Questions

Written by Dr. April Blakely

The Teacher Leader capstone experience is designed to bring reflection and focus to the whole of a teacher’s graduate level experiences.  As a culminating project, it centers on the application and integration of the skills, knowledge and experiences gained through focused study and in-depth inquiry.  It’s designed to authentically address a complex problem in practice.

Lucy Rini, a high school foreign language teacher, was interested in finding strategies to help her students be more successful with remembering difficult vocabulary.  Her research study, Options for High School Foreign Language Classrooms in Vocabulary Acquisition, tried out several strategies during the spring 2013 semester.  While Lucy collected data, her students kept vocabulary notebooks, created online flashcards, and made personal dictionaries.  This summer, Lucy used her data to refine learning strategies for her next group of students.

Jessica Hart, a preschool teacher, wanted to design an assessment plan for students in her class that would better measure their strengths and areas for growth.  She knew from her leadership coursework that communication between grade level teachers and parents is critical to student success.  Her research study, Individualized Assessment Techniques in a Semi-Private Early Childhood Education Classroom, has refined and improved the way kids in preschool are assessed at Model Lab School.

Rachel Brown tackled a long debated topic with her study, An Investigation into Elementary Students’ Attitudes toward the Accelerated Reader Program.  As a library media specialist, she has a strong interest in what motivates students to read.  She discovered that for her students, rewards do work.

As these teachers discovered, graduate school is more than just an opportunity to add a degree and rank- it’s a chance to explore and solve dilemmas faced by educational leaders every day!


Dr. Blakely is an Assistant Professor in Curriculum & Instruction for the EKU College of Education.

Published on September 10, 2013