Fourth Year (VWC)

The fourth-year writing requirement at Appalachian State University is satisfied by a Capstone course. These 4000-level courses are offered in disciplinary departments; they are reviewed and approved by the WAC Committee and the General Education Council. The senior capstone experience represents the culmination of the university educational experience by linking the content and methods of the major with the goals of general education. Capstone projects provide evidence of how well a student integrates and applies principles, concepts, and abilities.

For assistance determining how your course goals and outcomes align with those of the vertical writing curriculum, consider using our Capstone SLO Alignment Worksheet.

Capstone Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Apply proficiencies from earlier writing courses and knowledge of writing in the discipline.
  • Write effectively in genres appropriate to the advanced level of the discipline.
  • Participate in a community of disciplinary readers and writers.
  • Demonstrate rhetorical knowledge of texts and writing conventions of the discipline to produce effective writing at an advanced level.
  • Document correctly in the conventions of the discipline.
  • Reflect upon undergraduate writing from the perspective of the capstone experience.

General Capstone Requirements:

  • The course must be at least 1-credit hour at the senior level. 
  • The course will synthesize the knowledge, approaches, and results from the major discipline with the foundation established in the general education program.
  • The course will be conceived, designed, and implemented within academic programs. The appropriate capstone experience will vary from discipline to discipline.
  • While capstone projects may be used in the assessment of general education, departments will determine both the capstone project and the rubric for grading it in the context of the capstone course.

Guidelines for Fourth-Year Writing Courses

Based on the recommendations of the Gen Ed Task Force, the WAC Program and the WAC Committee suggest these guidelines for departments creating WID courses:

  • Course materials should represent an introduction to writing in the field
  • Landmark texts, which students analyze as a step toward their own writing
  • Texts and formats representing the scope of writing in the field
  • A variety of writing assignments representing the writing formats of the field
  • Introduction to research methods and documentation in the field
  • Teaching strategies should include an awareness of process writing
  • Low- and high-stakes writing
  • Revision opportunities for high-stakes writing (portfolio assessment is recommended)
  • Reflective writing
  • Collaborative writing and peer revision and editing opportunities
  • Connections to Vertical Writing Model through WAC and department conversations with faculty teaching sophomore and capstone writing
  • Writing assessment plan within major which addresses Gen Ed goals and outcomes
  • Class size:  The Gen Ed Task Force Report recommends a 22-student maximum for writing courses at the senior level.  This requirement might be met through teaching modules and writing sections for large classes where necessary.

Options:  Some departments and programs may offer multiple courses to satisfy the requirements for writing courses.

ePortfolios:  Faculty teaching courses in the vertical writing curriculum are encouraged to use ePortfolios as a tool for students to collect and reflect on their writing and growth throughout their GenEd writing experience.

Common Expectations for Capstone Experiences

 The capstone course should include a writing experience in the major that adds to the conversation of the field. The WAC Program supports departments in developing the writing component of capstone experiences and guidelines for writing in the major. Those departments and programs without a capstone writing experience might require majors to take an advanced writing course in a related program or a proposed course in English that would allow students to write in their majors at a level appropriate to the capstone. The senior capstone experience will offer an appropriate opportunity for the assessment of various elements of all four goals of the general education curriculum. Students in the capstone experience should produce assessable artifacts (e.g., writing, performance, etc.).  ePortfolios should provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their general education experience. While the opportunity to assess the general education program goals within the capstone experience is appropriate and convenient, it is not the responsibility of this one course to instill all of those skills and areas of knowledge. Each department or degree program will decide how to implement the capstone for its major(s), whether it is a course, thesis, creative product, or internship.

Common Forms of Capstone Experiences

  • Senior Honors Theses
  • Senior Seminar Courses
  • Internships
  • Student Teaching