A set of steps to prepare CCT students to complete a synthesis during their final semester (or very soon after) (version 12/09/08, rev. 11/28/09, 5/20/10, 4/12/11)
The CCT faculty thinks the Program needs to do better in helping students complete their capstone syntheses in a timely manner. To this end, we want to institute or affirm the practices and requirements to follow. Please peruse the various links to appreciate the rationale for these practices.
1. Entrance interview with your general advisor and other faculty members (before or soon after admission)
At this time we would encourage you to
Submit a provisional plan for taking courses, files/planner.html
Make your own connections among ideas and experiences from different courses by starting a Reflective Practice/Metacognitive Portfolio, http://cctrpp.wikispaces.umb.edu/
Participate in monthly CCT Community activities, files/CCTNetwork
Join the social network site ("ning") in order to connect with alums and other members of the wider CCT community whose interests you share or are intrigued by, files/CCTNetworkNing
Take steps to acquire Research and Study Competencies progressively over the course of your studies, files/competencies.html
2. Mid-program check-in
Two weeks after the end of the semester in which you take their fifth course towards the CCT M.A. you should submit your Reflective Practice/Metacognitive Portfolio thus far and evidence of Research and Study Competencies you have acquired.
The CCT faculty will review these and meet with you to make recommendations (which may include suggesting that you put a hold on taking courses in order to finish incompletes and/or spend a semester improving writing skills and acquiring more Research and Study Competencies)
3. Advance preparation for Capstone
Use an elective to take a specialized course outside CCT (if appropriate) or do an independent study to complete literature review for the synthesis project. (The change, effective for students starting fall 2008 and beyond, to require 4 rather than 3 electives was made with this in mind.)
Graduate Assistant as writing guide,
coaching you to get access to writing-improvement resources and courses available on and off campus, including Graduate Writing Center, paid editors, and (possibly) CCT alums who will serve as buddies
Look ahead and take note of the wide range of options for the capstone synthesis, files/capstone.html. These options are starting points only. See examples of previous students' projects, files/abstracts-TOC.html, to appreciate the ways that students stretch or reconfigure the options to match the kind of project that is most helpful for their personal and professional development.
Continue to update Reflective Practice/Metacognitive Portfolio, so that reflection/metacognition on CCT experience can enter your synthesis project.
Encourage more "practice" to be synthesized in the "synthesis of theory and practice," through a supervised experience in a school, workplace, or community setting in the Reflective Practice course (files/courses#688)
4. Prerequisites for taking the Capstone Seminar
Completion of CCT 692, Processes of Research and Engagement
No more than one incomplete left and not on academic probation
Synthesis proposal submitted with advisors arranged before the semester starts, files/synthforms.html .
Readers can be drawn from a wide range of part-timers and faculty from other departments, files/synthadvisors.html
5. Capstone completion during final semester (revised 4/12/11)
Students start the synthesis project with a meeting at the end of the previous semester, or even at the start of the previous semester if the instructor has time to advise you during that pre-synthesis semester.
CCT tries to run the synthesis seminar every semester, if need be by combining students from two semesters into one section's worth, even if some of you have to be supervised more like independent studies.
Students form buddy pairs or trios to coach each other and provide feedback before and during the synthesis semester.
CCT wants to make the capstone seminar seems like a regular course and the synthesis paper seem like a regular, albeit somewhat longer, course paper requirement. The emphasis will be on getting students to express their thinking in written words and finish in a semester, even if the result is less than the magnum opus you might have envisaged. In that spirit, the synthesis paper should include only a title page, not any other formal front matter. The instructor is the synthesis advisor; there is no second advisor. You can arrange advice from outsiders on any specialized matters.
Marathon day at the end of the semester* to provide faculty and peer support for students to focus and bring the pieces together. (* Usually Patriot's Day and, if needed, the Saturday before Thanksgiving).
In case you need pressure to get you to make space in your lives and domestic arrangements so you undertake writing and buddy support starting before and continuing during the semester, take note of the following procedures, deadlines, and consequences:
An oral presentation happens by the second last week of the semester. The synthesis paper is submitted for evaluation by the last class of the semester. The exit self-assessment and an abstract page is submitted by a week after the last class.
Using a rubric, the instructor and a second CCT faculty member, serving as the reader, independently evaluate the capstone as a whole a week after it is submitted. The average of their ratings is translated into "pass with distinction," "pass," "low pass," or "needs to be revised."
The instructor uses a grading system for the synthesis course that is based 50% on their evaluation of the final capstone product and 50% on the student's process, participation, and peer support efforts along the way. Students who do not pass the synthesis course have to retake it. (Unfortunately, CCT no longer has the resources for advising students who do not come close to finishing in one semester outside the system of registering for courses. In any case, it hasn't worked well for students.) If students get a passing grade for the synthesis course, but their capstone is evaluated as "needs to be revised," they can retake the course or sign an incomplete contract (see below), in which case the synthesis grade is not submitted until the revised capstone gets a passing evaluation or the student graduates with a Certificate, whichever comes first. A student receiving a low pass can also request an incomplete contract.
The synthesis products of students who get a pass or a pass with distinction for their capstone are bound by the Program (with front matter added) and made available via the CCT website (with any private or sensitive material removed at the student's request).
(Since 2012) The abstracts of pass or pass with distinction syntheses are submitted to ScholarWorks. A Committee of the Program faculty decides which students to be honored by submission of the full text pdf of their syntheses to ScholarWorks as examples of engaged scholarship from the CCT program.
6. Capstone completion after the synthesis semester (revised 5/20/10)
Incompletes for the synthesis course require a signed completion contract. This contract gives you until the end of the grading period in a year's time to pass the capstone (but encourages you to finish earlier). You also have to agree to meet with the synthesis instructor to discuss the feasibility of completing the synthesis versus graduation with certificate if, 8 weeks before the deadline, you have not yet submitted a complete draft of the synthesis. If you do not finish, you are expected to graduate with a certificate instead of an M.A. (In this case, a student can apply for readmission to the M.A. program at a later date. Approval of readmission will normally be contingent on a complete synthesis draft being ready. On readmission, all courses previously completed for the M. A. will normally be counted.)
For each semester of incomplete completion, it is best to register for 1 credit independent study (which may happen through CCT688, Reflective Practice) to affirm to yourself and your advisors that you want their involvement in completing your synthesis. You must, at the very least, pay program fees to keep your student status active.
You are welcome to join the synthesis seminar or CCT692 again without charge provided you commit to attending regularly so you can be part of the new cohort. You are also welcome to participate in the writing support group if the group is convened. Each of these opportunities provides a structure and support system to complete the synthesis project. (However, again, it is best to register for 1 credit independent study.)
Your original synthesis instructor, not the Program Coordinator, takes responsibility for follow-up and coaching/coaxing their students through to completion. At the same time, as a matter of good professional practice, students should respond to emails and phone calls, even if it is to say—no apologies needed—that progress has been limited.
Marathon day (see above) is strongly recommended for incomplete synthesizers.
Incomplete synthesizers may consider the option to shift to a Reflective Practitioner's Narrative prepared in a way that weaves in work done throughout the program of study (including in a Reflective Practitioner's portfolio) and in what you have done to date in your incomplete synthesis project. This option should be pursued only after consultation with synthesis advisor, ensuring that everyone is on the same page about what is expected. (The CCT faculty have discussed a means for incomplete synthesizers to attempt this as a one-month intensive, in which case you can request to be given questions to guide you in producing this Narrative.)
Incomplete synthesizers may also consider the option to switch to switch to the Learning, Teaching, and Educational Transformation (non-licensure) M.Ed. track, for which the standard capstone is a one-month comprehensive "exam" consisting of three short essays. Depending on which CCT electives you have taken, switching may require you to take one or two more courses to fulfill the LTET core requirements.
If you run up against the 5-year limit for completion, you can apply for a "statute of limitations" (S.O.L.) extension by submitting the required form with a concrete plan for completion that addresses reasons why you hadn't yet finished.
Before approving the S.O.L. extension (or approving readmission if you have let your student status become inactive), the program coordinator will ask (but not require) you to sign forms that allow you to be graduated with a Certificate if you "disappear" (i.e., stop paying program fees and communicating with your advisors). The reasons for the request are that the Program needs to reduce the number of students in the all-but-synthesis category and we believe that it is not good for students to have such unfinished business in their lives.