Developmental and Family Science (DVFS) Capstone Thesis

Guidelines for student and faculty engaging in the DVFS capstone thesis process


1. Synthesize knowledge and skills gained as a DVFS major, using them in a research project of the student’s interest related to Human Development and Family Studies.

2. Explore an interest in the HDFS field in depth.

3. Get exposure to how research is conducted in HDFS.

4. Gain experience working collaboratively with a research mentor and/or research team in a lab related to student’s interests and career goals.

5. Gain an understanding of how research is used to answer questions about human development, and learn how to make decisions using the logic of the scientific method.

Basic Elements of the Mentored Research Experience

1.  6 credits over 2 semesters (usually senior year). The old version of this process used HDFS 49100. The new version will use HDFS 49101 and HDFS 49102. Students may use 49100 until the new courses become available.

2.  Engage in a research process including:

a.  Develop a research project plan with clear objectives

b.  Relate the objectives of the project to the child, adult, and family research literature

c.  Execute the project plan

d.  Communicate the results of the project clearly using appropriate research related methods.

3.  To be clear, the research plan does not necessarily have to involve empirical hypothesis testing. If the student is participating in research at an earlier stage, the student’s research might investigate topics such as participant recruitment or attrition; measure selection, reliability, or validity; or other topics essential to HDFS research.

The student is required to do the following

1. Select a faculty mentor who agrees to support the project. Any HDFS faculty member (tenured/tenure track faculty, clinical faculty, or research faculty) could serve as a mentor. Information on faculty expertise, current projects, etc., will be made available to students via the department’s webpage. Mentored research projects may fit into one or more of the following categories:

a. Ongoing research project within the faculty mentor’s lab/team

b. New research project initiated based on student’s interest

c. Program evaluation

2. At the beginning of each semester, agree on the expectations of the course (HDFS 49100, 49101 or 49102) as defined in the Learning Contract for HDFS independent study experiences.

3. During the first semester of research, complete a research proposal including support from the academic literature, to be graded by the faculty mentor.

4. Submit a 500 word summary of the project plan and accomplishments to date, including relevant citations and a completion timeline, to the DVFS Capstone Subcommittee of the HDFS Undergrad Committee by the end of Week 14 of the first semester of research. The capstone subcommittee will evaluate the project for appropriate scope and rigor. If the capstone subcommittee rejects the project plan as submitted, feedback will be provided to the student and faculty mentor and the student will be given an opportunity to submit a revised plan.

5. To progress to the second semester of research, the student must pass the first semester (as graded by faculty mentor) and the student’s project summary must be approved by the capstone subcommittee.

6. During the second semester of research, complete a 10-15 page paper on the project in APA style, to be graded by the faculty mentor.

7. Give a poster or oral presentation at the conclusion of the project. This is meant to develop the student’s skills at communicating research to a new audience (i.e., not solely the research team with whom the student has been working). Appropriate venues for this presentation could include HDFS 346 (research methods class), the departmental research seminar, the college honors poster exhibition, etc.

Faculty Mentor Guidelines

1. Collaborate with student to define the expectations for each semester (of HDFS 49100, 49101, or 49102) using the Learning Contract for HDFS independent study experiences. This contract must be completed, signed by both parties, and deposited with the schedule deputy within the first two weeks of each semester.

2. Meet with the student (individually or as part of a team) a minimum of twice per month.

3. Guide/support the student in developing an appropriate research project. Provide feedback during the writing of the research proposal and grade the final proposal.

4. Approve the research abstract before submission to the undergraduate committee.

5. Provide feedback as the student writes his/her research paper and grade the final report. The final paper should be deposited with the schedule deputy so that a departmental record of capstone projects may be kept.

6. Set up an appropriate venue in which the student can present his/her paper or oral presentation.

7. Faculty members should supervise no more than 2 undergraduate thesis students at any one time. Exceptions are at the discretion of the Department Head.

Recognizing Faculty Work Load

The work of being a faculty mentor will earn course release on an ongoing basis. This will be negotiated between the faculty member and the Department Head.

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