A Scalable Capstone Course for Academic Preparation

William G. Griswold
August 28, 2005

Computer science departments at research universities face on-going challenges in providing a top-quality education at a reasonable cost to large numbers of students. Moreover, students, both undergraduate and graduate, are in need of more preparation to possibly continue their academic careers at the next level as both researchers and teachers. This paper considers the opportunity to adapt a capstone design course to meet these interwoven needs. The key idea is to employ a "hierarchy of learners" education approach, which puts all participants--undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty--in the dual roles of learners and teachers, thus preparing them for the next step in their careers. Such a course design is motivated and two variants of its implementation are discussed and evaluated, with recommendations for further improvements in scalable academic capstone in computer science.

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