Senior Capstone Experience

The Senior Capstone Experience is an independent research project, on a topic of the student’s choosing, undertaken with the close guidance of a faculty thesis advisor.

Each student defines a problem or question he or she is interested in investigating and then utilizes a wide range of knowledge and skills gained from previous coursework to answer that question through the completion of a senior thesis.

Students begin to develop a research topic and proposal in their Research Methods in Sociology course (SOC 306), typically taken in the second semester of their junior year.

Work on the Capstone is also supported by some of the work of two courses, SOC 491-492: Senior Seminar, taken in the two semesters of the senior year. Students meet regularly with their faculty advisors as well as fellow students in the senior seminar to discuss their research and writing processes. The year concludes with a formal presentation of the completed research. The Capstone is graded by the department faculty as Honors, Pass, or Fail and Honors level projects are published on the Miller Library’s web site.

Some recent projects include:

  • “Trends of Gendered Violence in American Slasher Films,” Nicholas O’Meally, ’15
    • Gendered violence toward women in American Slasher Films has been a long standing controversy since the genre gained popularity in the 1970s. Stereotypes and cliches of sexually active women dying in these films have become mainstream, but there is a lack of research on how the genre has changed over time.  In this study, five films from the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s were analyzed to see how the treatment of female characters changed over time. Despite the several stereotypes associated with the genre, analyses showed that male characters are more likely to die in these films.  While more sexually active females than men died in the 1970s and 2000s, more sexually active men than women died in the 1980s and 1990s.  Women experienced longer sequences of violence more often than did men in the 1970s and 1980s, but men experienced longer sequences than women in the 2000s.
  • “Foolish Government,” Abiodum Bello Olatunji, ’15
    • In recent years Nigeria’s education system has been criticized for the quality of education that it provides. The poor quality of education is a symptom of the Nigerian
      government’s inability to run its institutions effectively. This paper uses qualitative interview data to document
      causes and consequences of governmental inefficiency in Nigeria. School officials were interviewed because they are
      the agents who put into place the policies created by the government. Five main themes were derived: corruption, policy, status, money, and culture. These themes are the mechanisms by which the government’s inefficiency is destroying public education. Findings suggest that Nigeria’s government has robbed education of its quality, and provided terrible conditions to those who dedicate their lives to education. The continued effects of the inequality created by federal policies on public education is hypothesized to cause Nigeria to lose its remaining skilled educators to brain drain.
  • “The Effects of Children’s Gender on Mothers’ Comforting Behavior Following a Jealousy Simulation,” Brianna Jehl ’16, Double major in Sociology and Psychology
    • The ways in which mothers view their children and interact with them can be impacted by a variety of factors.  Previous research has shown that a mother’s gendered stereotypes can dictate how she interacts with her children.  The current study examined the effects of children’s gender on mothers’ comforting behavior following a jealousy simulation with a sample of 73 children between the ages of 48 and 63 months.  Mothers and children were placed in a jealousy simulation in which the mother ignored her own child and focused her attention on a realistic-looking baby doll.  Mothers’ comforting behaviors following the jealousy scenario were assessed.  Results indicated that mothers were more likely to show affectionate comforting behaviors, including hugs and kisses, toward daughters than toward sons, and were more likely to talk in a warmer tone toward daughters.  These findings suggest that children’s gender has a major impact on how mothers show their children support and comfort.
  • “The Modern Athena: Full Gender Inclusion of the United States Military,” a documentary film by Jack Butler, ’16