The Senior Capstone Experience is intended to strengthen the student's ability to think critically and conduct research independently. The philosophy behind the Senior Capstone Experience is this: at the end of a course of study, a student should be able to engage in a project of active learning and integration of materials within the major.
The Senior Capstone Experience in anthropology is a substantial research and writing project completed at the end of the student's course of study under the guidance of one or more Washington College faculty members. Involving active learning and integration of materials within the major, the project centers on a topic chosen by the student in consultation with faculty members in this department who agree to serve as a thesis advisor. The project must be approved by the thesis advisor before being undertaken by the student.
A Senior Project may be a thesis or another project. Examples of a project are an oral history, a museum exhibit, an ethnographic film project, or a developed body of materials that can be used in elementary or secondary schools. Each project needs an accompanying written document that discusses how the project was researched and carried out and discusses the importance of the project in terms of anthropological theory. A thesis must have a substantial theoretical focus but may include any of the other forms acceptable as a project.
Students are expected to give an oral presentation of their project work after the final draft has been completed. The presentation may be made to faculty only or student peers may be invited to participate. The oral consists of a 10 minute presentation followed by a question and answer period.
The goal of the Senior Capstone Experience in anthropology is the development of independent-minded research with the guidance of faculty advisors. The student chooses or is assigned a thesis/project advisor. Through weekly or biweekly tutorials with their advisors, students are assisted in their research and are encouraged to maintain a realistic schedule. A senior thesis or project is completed during the senior year. The initial proposal may be formulated at the end of the junior year under the thesis advisor's supervision.
We expect you to establish a more-or-less permanent appointment schedule with your advisor, either weekly or biweekly. We cannot promise successful completion of your thesis if you avoid these meetings. If you want or need to check with us between scheduled appointments, we will be pleased to see you if we possibly can. Do not feel that you can discuss your thesis only with your advisor. Each of us will be happy to offer whatever assistance we can. Just ask. We look forward to working with you and we want you to succeed.
The Senior Thesis of each graduating major will be evaluated for the presence and effectiveness of:
- Statement of an anthropological research question
- Identification and explication of a theoretical perspective appropriate to the research question
- Analysis of relevant disciplinary journal articles
- Appropriate use of anthropological vocabulary
- Application of appropriate research and/or analytic techniques. [Assessment Plan of Department of Sociology and Anthropology].
A student who works regularly with his or her advisor, meets deadlines (see "Time-line") with acceptable chapters, and turns in a complete, well-written document that reflects the format described below by the last day of class of the spring semester is unlikely to run into difficulties. Missing completion deadlines and/or submission of an unsatisfactory thesis will almost certainly result in a failure to graduate on time.
Passed with Honors
Students who earn honors on their Senior Capstone Experiences and a Dean's List average in their major course work may be eligible for departmental honors, a distinction that is noted both on the student's permanent record and in the commencement program [Washington College Catalog]
To earn a grade of "Honors," a thesis/project must be exceptional. As a rough guide, it is one that (in somewhat shortened form) would be worthy of submission to a scholarly journal in the appropriate field. That is, its subject or methods should be original and significant, and its conclusions fully supported and defended against reasonable challenge. It should be fully grammatical, and demonstrate graceful language. The "Honors" grade is awarded by vote of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology faculty.
A grade of "Not Passed" is almost always a consequence of a student's failure to work consistently with his or her advisor or to accept the advisor's reasonable guidance, or of the submission of the completed thesis after the College's deadline (see "Time-line"). On rare occasions, a thesis is rejected because, despite advisor's guidance, it fails to meet standards of acceptable writing. The "Not Passed" grade is awarded by vote of the Department faculty.
A thesis should be approximately 30-50 pages of written text in length and the written documentation for a project should be a minimum of 20 pages in length. No thesis may be longer than 100 pages of text. Front matter and back matter may be as long as necessary, in the judgement of the thesis advisor. For instructions on the format and style of the thesis follow the Chicago Manual of Style as found in Kate Turabian's Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, sixth edition.
Theses generally have a minimum of five chapters: an introduction, three chapters of substance, and a conclusion. These are general guidelines that may be modified in discussion with the thesis adviser.
We require that theses and projects be fully grammatical and free of spelling errors.
All borrowed work must be fully acknowledged.
The only acceptable citation forms for anthropology theses are the AAA style (for cultural anthropology theses) or SAA style (for archaeology theses).
Use a standard 12 point book font. Generally, Palatino font seems the most attractive of the Macintosh fonts, but you may use Times, Helvetica, Arial, or Courier if you prefer. If you have another preference, just clear it with your advisor. Do NOT use Chicago or other display fonts and don't use Courier.
Submit two copies of the final version of your thesis. One copy should be bound in a black spring-back thesis binder, which will be returned to you with its grade noted on the title page. The Department will forward the second copy (in a manila folder or envelope (with a butterfly clasp) to the Miller Library for microfilming.
Your completed thesis will become part of the Miller Library's permanent collection, and added to the Library's on-line catalog. As a matter of pride you will wish to be sure that it represents your best work.
Seniors contemplating a double major may undertake a larger project satisfying the requirements of both majors only with the consent of, and under the guidance of faculty teaching the two disciplines on this campus. Students may not undertake a triple major.