Capstone Proposal Guidelines

Science and Math Education Graduate Program

The capstone project is meant to provide each SMFE graduate student with experience identifying a critical need (pedagogical, curricular) or research question in science and math education, and formally proposing a project plan for addressing this need/question. The process of formally proposing a project will help you successfully plan and implement your project and will be very much akin to that which you will experience in your professional life as leaders in science and math education within your community, school system, school district, state and/or region.

All students will take SMFT 690: Capstone Proposal Development, and it is during this course that the student will write and present a formal project proposal. Students learn about doing research with human subjects through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) and about the Institutional Review Board process.  If the project involves any work with people, then the project must also be approved by the appropriate supervisor at the host institution. After completion of an acceptable proposal in SMFT 690, and prior to conducting the project, each student must select a project advisory committee, made up of a major advisor and 1-2 secondary advisors.  Normally, the advisory committee should contain one faculty member from the School of Science & Math, and the other from the School of Education, Health and Human Performance.  The committee must approve the capstone proposal before the student can begin carrying out the project. 

The formal project proposal should contain the following sections:

Cover page, which includes a descriptive project title, the author's name, and contact information, and a place for the signature/date of approval of the proposal by the project major advisor, secondary advisor(s), the SMFE program director, and host institution supervisor if applicable.

Abstract – This is a concise statement (500 words) that summarizes the goals and objectives for the project, the projects intellectual merit, the population affected by the project and the anticipated outcomes. This brief summary of the entire proposal is placed first but should be written last. There should not be any information in the abstract that is not included in the main body of the proposal. It is only a summary.

Introduction – In this section the student should address the intellectual merit of the project. This discussion should include:

  • A brief description of the project. 
  • A discussion of the educational theory (theoretical perspective) and evidence, which clearly and comprehensively justifies the educational significance of the project or the need for reform, change or further research. 
  • The community (public, families, teachers and/ or students) impacted by the project, and if applicable, the need for research/change/reform among this population.  
  • The introduction should provide a review of the pertinent literature (2-3 pages), which informs the underlying theoretical perspective, and project focus.

Project Goals and Objectives - This section of the proposal should:

  • For research projects:
    • Provide a detailed description of the research methodology (qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods) and data analysis methods.  
    • Present a timetable for completion of each phase of the research methods. 
  • For projects that involve the development of curriculum, pedagogical techniques or professional development: 
    • Provide a description of the project plan and implementation methods (how the project goals and objectives will be met). 
    • Discuss how the anticipated outcomes be assessed and how will the data from the assessment be evaluated in light of the project's goals?
    • Present a timetable for completion of each aspect of the project as they relate to achieving the incremental objectives.
  • Present a well thought-out plan for examining the impact of their project on diverse members of the audience being researched or impacted by the project.
  • Discuss how the project relates to, and/or goes beyond or enhances/extends the South Carolina or National Science and Math Education Standards, or goals/standards outlined by other governing organizations, such as the National American Association for Environmental Education.

Anticipated Outcomes

  • What will be the anticipated product (curriculum, teaching or professional development resources, research findings, etc.) of your capstone project?
  • What are the expected results of any research or assessments?
  • In what ways do you anticipate the project will affect diverse members of the of the audience being researched or impacted by the project? 
  • How will your product or research findings be disseminated to the community of science and math education professionals impacted by your project?

Literature Cited

  • A literature cited section must be included. All literature should be cited using APA or CSE style formatting and should include parenthetical citations, and a list of Works Cited at the end of the proposal. 

Final capstone proposals must be completed and approved by the advisory committee before the add/drop date of the semester in which the capstone project is to be completed. This may require some planning prior to the semester of capstone enrollment.

Signature Page

Students must submit a final proposal to the SMFE Program Director, which includes a completed signature cover page once the advisory committee has approved the proposal.

Captone Proposal Presentation

As part of the requirements for SMFT 690, all students must present their capstone project proposal to the SMFT 690 class, their advisory committee, and the program director.  Other students in the program or interested faculty are invited to attend these presentations.  The SMFT 690 instructor, the student's advisory committee and interested faculty in attendance will provide feedback to the student, and evaluate the proposal using the following Capstone Proposal Rubric.