· Review the “Capstone Project: PSYC 6393” PowerPoint presentation in this week’s Learning Resources to determine the components of the Capstone Project.

· Course Text: Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S. M. (2018). Asking the right questions: A guide to critical thinking (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
·
o Chapter 1, “The Benefit and Manner of Asking the Right Questions”
Writing a Capstone: Things You Should Know
Pick a topic you are passionate about. You will spend a great deal of time reading, researching, thinking, writing, and talking about your capstone project, whether you write a thesis or complete an organizational change project. To pick a topic that you are only vaguely interested in is like marrying someone you only kind of like. Do not do it. It is true that your “idea” may change as you write, but the general area should be one in which you can answer “yes” to questions like: Are you passionate about this? Do you enjoy talking about your topic area to others? Do you honestly want to become an expert in this area? Do you think you can study this and still be interested in it a year from now? Have you been interested in this area for sometime?
Journal and brainstorm about your capstone. Buy a journal, the kind that is bound so that you are never tempted to tear out a page. Brainstorm, journal, doodle, make “to do” lists in this book. It will be very handy to have a living piece of your own personal history of the capstone. This method may work well for you, whether it is because you need one place to keep track of all you have done (or need to do) or because you actually come up with pretty good ideas while brainstorming. During a moment of writer’s block, you can thumb through this book and either find some mundane task you can do while waiting for your creative juices to flow, or read some of your own ideas to get yourself going (you might be amazed to “rediscover” so many of your own ideas this way).
Maintain regular contact with your chairperson. Many graduates claim the best advice they ever got in graduate school was to regularly schedule meetings with their thesis chairperson or capstone mentor. The capstone course will support you in this endeavor. Weekly postings will force you to write or accomplish something at least once a week. Having regular contact with your chairperson has been shown to impact degree completion; therefore, the course is set up to require weekly participation and interaction with your capstone chairperson.
Have realistic expectations about contact. You must have contact with your capstone chairperson while at the same time respecting the commitments and competing responsibilities that faculty members have. Remember, your chairperson is a resource that will gladly guide you; however, do not take up their time in the name of wanting to prove you are working on your thesis (unless you tell them otherwise, they will assume you are doing just that). For example, do not submit a poorly written paragraph just for the sake of having some “interaction.” Rather, you can report briefly what you have accomplished and keep your chairperson abreast of your progress. For example, you could inform the chairperson in the weekly discussion that you did more research this week and that you think your first chapter should be ready for review in about two more weeks. Or, you can share an exciting study you read and how you think it might fit in with your design that you are still hammering out. Or you may be completely at a loss when writing the design and analysis sections of your project. Maintain contact, and when you need extensive feedback, be patient and know you will get it as soon as possible.
At all times, be honest. Your chairperson wants you to succeed, and if you are not honest about your progress or lack thereof, it will be difficult for the chairperson to assist you. In a land-based program, a chairperson has the benefit of regular departmental events during which the “absent” student is noticed. The lack of face-to-face contact makes it difficult for chairpersons to follow the progress of individual students. If you are having serious problems, please let your chairperson know about them.
Make lists. Research on the subject of degree completion suggests lists are helpful for time management. You should consider keeping a list of things you need to do to complete the capstone. Keep this list handy in your journal; this way you will have a history of things you have done as well as things still yet to do. Crossing items off of your list is satisfying, and getting to see pages of tasks accomplished is a great way to see how much work you have actually done (and there will be times when you need to remind yourself of simple facts like this).
Have a plan. Have a plan for completing your capstone. It is important that you think about a plan, and write it down. The take-home message here is that you must be self-disciplined; this is difficult to do without a plan.
Research takes longer than you think. Be aware of this fact. Next, work to accept it. Undertaking and completing a capstone will probably be unlike any other task you have done. Do what you can to ward off disappointing thoughts if things do not move along like you thought they would. You have a plan, but, as John Lennon so succinctly put it, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” Thus, if your capstone has gone through 11 revisions (and you only planned for three), take a deep breath and know you are not alone. Remember that once you think your document is perfect, it will go through at least one more revision. Also, just because your chairperson approves your completed capstone does not mean it is complete; you may still be asked to make final revisions when it goes through academic review.
Reduce other responsibilities as much as possible. Many land-based graduate students are full-time students. Sure, they may teach and hold research assistantships, but these jobs are qualitatively different from having a career. In addition to working, many distance learning students have families. If it is possible to arrange for a reduction of responsibilities, do it. Writing a capstone can be stressful, and this stress is a burden that will be shared with those close to you. It is in everyone’s best interest for you to finish your thesis in a timely manner. Find out if it is feasible to arrange for a reduced workload and/or reduced childcare responsibilities. This can be the difference between writing a capstone in two quarters versus four (or more!). In some cases it is even the difference between finishing and not finishing the degree.
Expect good days and bad. Writing the capstone project can be a difficult stage in your academic career. Some days you will feel pride, a sense of accomplishment, and passion for your research; other days, you may feel anxiety, insecurity, or even boredom. Talk to others in your same situation (use the Discussion board, Class Café, or e-mail). You may also want to spend some time on a favorite hobby (all work and no play is no good). The bottom line is that these feelings are normal. You need to remember that. Further, because you do not write your capstone in a bubble (although you may feel like you are alienated from the world around you), other life stresses may exacerbate the “capstone blues.” Things like divorce, a health crisis, or death in your family can have a large impact on your progress. If you find you are overwhelmed, seek professional assistance for managing the stress in your life.
Find a buddy. As psychologists, we all have the common knowledge that social support is important in all aspects of life. A spouse, child, or cat can be your cheerleading squad (and you should enlist their support), but you will need a graduate school “buddy” in addition to family, friends, and / or pet support. This buddy will preferably be someone in your program with whom you have developed a relationship with while taking classes; perhaps it is a person you meet in the capstone course. In a land-based program, students often form these buddy-type relationships due to proximity. While a distance-learning environment does not afford such luxuries as sharing a student lounge, there are many things you can do to make this buddy relationship work. Find someone that you enjoyed conversing with in the Discussion areas of past courses. The value of this can not be underestimated. Sometimes all you need is another set of eyes to validate your work before sending it off to your chairperson, or you may want to bounce what you think may be a semi-crazy idea off someone before approaching your chairperson with it. A peer is an excellent resource in these types of situations.
Learn to accept criticism of your work. Let’s face it, you are getting your M.S. degree. Thus, you more than likely have a touch of the trait called “perfectionism.” Don’t be surprised when the close-to-perfect draft you submit comes back with a lot of changes in some color. Your chairperson and academic reviewer know what they are doing. Have faith that their comments will make your capstone the best it can be. There may be times you disagree about something you think is critical to your project. If this happens, think about the suggestion or concern, do some more reading and reasoning, and if you still feel strongly about your original plan, then respectfully present your reason(s) for not wanting to make the suggested changes. If you go through this process you will likely find that either your chairperson or academic reviewer was right, or you simply did not explain your reasoning well enough the first time for them to understand what you wanted to do (or what you meant). Your capstone will go through many changes.
Adopt a motivational technique that works for you. Maybe it is a quote. For example, “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Paste it next to your computer; look at it and repeat it often, especially if you ever feel like you are never going to finish. Other quotes you might find worth repeating frequently are: “Rome was not built in a day” or “An elephant can be eaten one bite at a time.” Other examples of motivational techniques may be visualizing how things will be different once you have your degree (a new job?), or visualizing what it will feel like at graduation.
Talk to others about their capstone presentations. It will take the “mystery” out of the presentation and help you psychologically prepare for the big day. Ask others how the oral presentation went and what they learned from the process of getting prepared.
Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat well. Although this is common knowledge it is worth mentioning here, simply because most do not do this as it is. When you find yourself having a difficult week (or month), make an effort to attend to sleep, exercise, and diet for one week. You may be surprised at how much this helps get you through the slump.
Keep a positive attitude; you are almost there! Attitude is critical, do what you can to make yours positive.
Creating a Time Line for the Capstone Project
The Capstone Project will be built in stages throughout the quarter. It is useful to develop a time line to ensure that the Project is progressing in a timely manner. The time line should have at least two columns: the name of the component to be completed and the date it will be completed. Feel free to include intermediate steps to help with pacing yourself. Be sure to return often to the time line to check off when you have met each step.
See the sample time line below. Make sure to include the specific dates that are applicable for your particular quarter. Please consult the term calendar located in the left navigation bar to find out the dates for each week.
9-15-08 Identify problem for capstone
9-17-08 Read article on how to write problem statement
9-22-08 Write a problem statement
9-25-08 Spend several hours in the Walden Library
9-29-08 Collect literature sources
10-2-08 Summarize and critique all collected sources
10-7-08 Complete integrative literature review
10-10-08 Read articles on critical analysis
10-17-08 Complete critical analysis narrative
10-20-08 Generate list of possible solutions
10-24-08 Review list with classmates
10-30-08 Identify and write up main solution
11-10-08 Complete final editing of Capstone Project
11-15-08 Turn in final Capstone Project
Application: Time Line
Planning a major project requires organization and planning. Creating a time line is useful in planning the various stages of the project. This Application Assignment will assist you in planning and completing your Capstone Project by having you identify the various stages of the Project and create the time line for its completion.

To prepare:
· Review the “Capstone Project: PSYC 6393” PowerPoint presentation in this week’s Learning Resources to determine the components of the Capstone Project.
· Review the document, “Creating a Time Line for the Capstone Project,” located in the Resources area on the left navigation bar.
· Review the Syllabus, paying particular attention to the Weekly Course Schedule.
· Review the document, “Writing a Capstone: Things You Should Know,” in this week’s Learning Resources.
The assignment:
Create a time line for the accomplishment of your Capstone Project.

Capstone Project:

The Capstone Project will address a specific problem or issue related to your MS in Psychology specialization. The Capstone Project is a major paper that must include a problem statement and an integrative literature review using critical analysis that leads toward resolution of the specific problem. The Capstone Project is due by Day 7 of Week 10.
• Capstone Project
• PSYC 6393
• Components of Capstone
• Introduction
• Problem Statement
• Integrated Literature Review
• Critical Analysis
• Problem Resolution
• Conclusion
• References
• Introduction
• The purpose of the introduction is the introduce the identified problem/issue and why you chose this specific topic. In 1-2 paragraph provide specific details about the nature of the problem and your rationale (why this problem is important to you).
• Problem Statement
The problem statement describes the identified problem/issue in more detail including how the critical considerations (diversity, social change, ethics, globalism) addressed in week 2 apply. Please see the Problem Statement Template for more discussion and examples of a problem statement. The problem statement should be 1-2 pages in length.
• Integrated Literature
• The literature will involve a detailed summary and critique of at least 4 relevant sources related to the problem/issue. The literature review should be between 3-5 pages. Please review the readings for guidance on completing an integrated literature review.
• Critical Analysis Narrative
• In this section you will critically analyze the problem/issue using the sources collected in week 5. Please review the Critical Analysis Template for step-by-step instructions on completing this section. The critical analysis narrative should be 3-5 pages in length.
• Problem Resolution
• Using the steps outlined in the Problem Solving Template, develop one solution to the problem/issue. Describe the solution in detail including the costs and benefits, and the challenges and barriers to implementing this solution. The problem resolution should be 2-3 pages in length.
• Conclusions
• End the Capstone with a 1 page narrative of your final thoughts about the problem and generated solution. Also include your reaction to the project and what you have learned about yourself in completing the project.
• References and Form and Style
• Be sure that your references are in APA format.
• Make sure that your capstone is double spaced in 12 pt font.
• Be sure the do spell check and grammar check.

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