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Senior Capstone Project: Guide

Senior Capstone Project and Symposium


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Quarter One


Topic Selection is Research

Choosing a topic is a process.  Choose a topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow. Make sure that enough scholarly material is available on the topic.  When was the last time you were listening to the television, news, or a speaker and you felt compelled to “fact check”? What Broad Discipline do you find most interesting? List 1-2 things that you think might be viable research topics.



1970s Retro Literary Topic Starters

Modern Topic Starters

AP and Current Affairs Starters


"Pre-search" or "Google it"

You will conduct “pre-search” to ensure that your topic is viable.

Make sure that enough scholarly material is available on the topic.

Type 10-20 Key Words to use in your pre-search 

Here are some Tips for Google

Background Research [Lit Review]

Questions to ask and answer in your research:

To help avoid plagiarism the reading/research strategy of journalistic questioning is recommended. The "Gist" worksheet allows you to make notes on a book or article, and then put the source away and write from your notes. The strategy includes the 5Ws and H -- Who, What, When, Where, Why and How 

Kick Start Questions for Background Research [Lit Review]

WHAT - What is my paper about? What are the key points? 
WHY- Why am I writing about this? Why should anyone care? 
WHO - Who are the researchers in the field? Who am I writing about? 
WHERE - Where does the research take place? Is there a prominent location in the study?
WHEN - When does the research take place? What dates are significant? 
HOW - How was the research conducted

Summation of the source [focus on what is unique about the source] A brief evaluation statement(s) [is this a "scholarly" source or not] How the work is relevant to your research [How, specifically, do you intend to use the source (e.g. as evidence to support a claim, as a counter-argument, etc.)] 

Webb Library Catalog

Subscription Databases

Free Online Journals



JURN finds arts and humanities journals, book chapters, and theses. Science Direct site has 250,000 open-access articles.
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) searches more than 7,000 open-access journals, which are searchable at the article level. Wiley free and open-access journals.
High Wire Press boasts that it provides “the largest archive of free full-text science on Earth!” Look for journals marked “free site.” National Institutes of Health offers some of the most extensive access to health research.

Field Trip

MTSU Library

Please make sure the MTSU permission slip is signed by both parent and student.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 Seniors will complete research in the MTSU library and tour the campus with our college counseling staff.  We will take a bus from Bell Buckle leaving around 8:00 am.  Day student drivers may meet at 8:45 am sharp location TBD.   We will research for senior projects for about three hours, then have lunch at MTSU food court.  We will return to campus for the last class of the day.  Seniors look sharp, but you can wear jeans. Bring money for lunch [about $10]

Primary Research

Begin Incorporating Primary Research

This portion of the paper is meant to transform information into insight

“A good researcher knows how to use both primary and secondary sources in her writing and to integrate them in a cohesive fashion.”

Primary Research  must be approved by both your adviser and the lead senior adviser

Research Methodology [Primary Research - Survey, Interview, Test, Experiment, Case Study, Contrast/Comparison, Project Journal, Internship]
Findings/Data/Results [explanation of results includes the use of Tables, Photos, and Maps] 

25 Ideas for Primary Research

Primary research involves collecting data about a given subject directly from the real world. [Driscoll & Brizee]

  1. Interview an Expert or Professional face to face

  2. Interview an Expert or Professional via phone, Skype, OR email

  3. Visit a Museum

  4. Tour a Factory or Business

  5. Volunteer at an organization

  6. Attend a meeting or service [church, brotherhood, fraternity, society, club]

  7. Shadow an expert [in person or online]

  8. Internship or Externship

  9. Camp or Retreat

  10. Attend a cultural festival [PowWow, Storytelling festival, African Street Festival,  Nashville Greek Festival, etc.]

  11. Participate in an event [charity or community]

  12. Curation - Creating a collection of resources [physical or online]

  13. Following Twitter Feeds or Blogs - journaling your impressions

  14. Starting a Twitter Feed or blog about your topic

  15. Keeping a research journal

  16. Video Journal an experience

  17. Conduct an Experiment

  18. Test Computer Code

  19. Create an App

  20. Chart a Contrast/Comparison

  21. Creating an “Infographic” to include in your presentation

  22. Questionnaires to a small group of people

  23. Survey a group [survey must be approved by Teacher and Lead Adviser]

  24. Create a Statistical survey

  25. Opinion Poll






First Semester


Topic Selection lesson

Use the GALE – Topic Finder Tool,  Use JSTOR text analyzer, Read 3 topic starter lists in the LibGuide






Annotated Bibliography lesson

6 sources with annotation - Students can begin submitting these immediately. 

Use the GIST summarizing strategy  - Typed via Google Drive

Annotated Bibliography 

English IV

Quiz grades for each annotation

Oct 19


University Library Visit

Field Trip




Thesis writing instruction may be covered in the English IV Class and in the LibGuide video




Conclude Primary Research

See 25 ideas for Primary Research



Make an Outline

Try one of the two strategies for planning your paper

  1. Ms. Camp style Outline 
  2. Write with your Presentation in Mind Outline  Use your Presentation Slides as an Outline





Paper Draft Due before the holiday break

Label Google Doc - Surname_2020

example - Smith_2020


Paper Draft

Eng. IV Grade





Second Semester


Final Revised Draft



Final Eng. IV Grade




How to Give a Research Project Speech



To Students


Elevator Speech

100 words due January 30, 2020  / [typed, submitted electronically via Google docs to English Teacher, and Lead Sr. Adviser]  Where to start: attention-grabbing statistic, very brief anecdote, or a poignant quote.

Advertisement for your presentation



Practice with Presentation Visuals [at least 2-types Charts, Illustrations, Graphs] 

Presentation Visuals


March Research Symposium

Presentations will be 10 – 12 minutes in length Must follow formatting instructions / We will hold in 3 to 4 locations on campus grouped by discipline or advisory – Q & A to follow the presentation

Presentation of Research Paper

presentation grading sheet must make a 70%

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Writing and Sharing

Quarter Two and Three


Writing a Thesis Statement

Writing the Paper


‚ÄčMs. Camp style Outline 

Jump Start:

Write your paper with the presentation in mind.  

Maybe even build your presentation slides to help organize and outline the paper.   

Things to include in the Presentation: 

  • · Introduction
  • · Background Research
  • · Primary Research Methods
  • · Primary Research Findings
  • · Conclusion



How will you introduce the topic to the audience? 

· Brief gripping story or anecdote

· Surprising, and highly significant facts or statistics

· Summary of a compelling case study

· Powerful quote that leads into your research

Background Research:

  • WHO - Who are the researchers in the field? Who am I writing about?
  • WHERE - Where does the research take place? Is there a prominent location or institution in the research?
  • WHAT - What are the relevant studies? What is the state of the art today? 
  • WHEN - When does the research take place? What dates are significant?
  • HOW – How was the research conducted? How have others gone about trying to solve problems you want to tackle, and in what ways will your approach build on and vary from previous work?


Primary Research 

Primary Research Methodology:

Write about how you conducted research - Methodology [Primary Research - Survey, Interview, Test, Experiment, Case Study, Contrast/Comparison, Project Journal, and Internship] 

Primary Research Findings:

Data to include - Findings/Data/Results  

[Explanation of your results can include the use of Tables, Photos, and Maps]

Cite Your Sources

Elevator Speech


Video your elevator pitch.

An app with a teleprompter is BigVu  

Apple      Google Play



Ideas from YouTube University of Manchester 

100 words due January 30, 2019  [If you are having trouble check out the Thesis tab video]

[typed, submitted electronically via Google docs to Adviser, English Teacher, and Lead Sr. Adviser]

Where to start: attention-grabbing statistic, very brief anecdote, or a poignant quote. Then …

What is the topic of your research?

• What is the problem, issue, or question that you are

asking and addressing in your research? 

• Why is that problem interesting and important? (i.e. So what?)

• How does your work connect with a broader disciplinary conversation about this topic/problem in your field, and what does it add to that conversation?


• key nouns  • offer topical touchstones that are accessible to wide range of educated people • avoid jargon if possible or deliver specialized terms using appositives

Crafting the elevator pitch:

• Delivery

• Eye contact--read your listener

• Enthusiasm

• Practice, practice, practice!


the elevator pitch: presenting your research in conversation  From University of Notre Dame -  Matthew Capdevielle, PhD, University Writing Center,  Ralf Bendlin, Electrical Engineering and Gretchen Busl, Literature {}

Presentation Tips

Presentation Rubric

Mrs. Little's Google Slides Presentation

Before Public Speaking Ted Talk playlist

Pecha Kucha

Free Google Slides Templates

Free Google Slides Backgrounds

Get Ideas from these Google Slides Templates



The Science Lecture Hall 

The Library                  The Chapel           


- seats 63

- seats 75

    - seats 300


The Webb School Senior Symposium April 1-12, 2019 

Monday, April 1, 2019

Chapel - Lennon Ilarde and Cailey Patterson
Why people believe in conspiracy theories
Coral Bleaching and Its Consequences
Library - Jessie Song and Anthony Culp
Crime prediction and data science
Sci Lecture - Scarlett Liu and Rachel Bernstein
String Theory
Music Therapy


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Chapel -

Tommy Zhuo /  Sports analytics

Allie Avent /  Sexual Abuse in athletics


Library   - 

Ivan Plakasov /  Life of the Roman Gladiator

Frank Li / Emotional Disposition

Sci Lecture

Selina Liang /  Anarchism

Alice Lin / De-extinction and species reintroduction


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Chapel       Madeline Boyanton and Ella Wimberley

Library Noel Kim and Emmanuel Oñate

Sci Lecture Medusa Qu and JJ Thephavong




Friday, April 5, 2019

Chapel    -    AJ Clarke and Gwyneth Seagroves

Library     -   Kane Edwards and Sana Alsalman

Sci Lecture  -  Caroline Wetherbee and Laura Kate Yancey

Monday, April 8, 2019

Chapel    -   

Henry Moore

Cole Zuckowsky

Eli Nichols






Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Chapel   -    Alex Reavis and Carol Zhou

Library    -   Cole Connelly and Stefania Morozova

Sci Lecture   -    Brandon Azar and Kayla Taylor

Thursday, April 11, 2012

Chapel  - Spoony Sizemore and Nile Archer

Library -  Elijah Foutch and Yang Zhong

Sci Lecture  -  Richard Ebri and Jin Nettles










Friday, April 12, 2019

Chapel - Brooke Williams and Jonathan Nam

Library - Ollie Hutchens and Thomas Simmons

Sci Lecture  -  Annie Zhou and Collin King





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