Student responses to a new project model capstone unit in journalism
Australian Journalism Review
School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Tertiary educators across the globe are trying to identify the best way for students to complete their studies in a unit that synthesizes learning to date and prepares them to enter the workforce. The final unit, or capstone, has increasingly emerged as a key issue in higher education in recent years, and is the subject of a growing body of research. However, researchers have not reached consensus about the most suitable model for a capstone unit. The absence of a uniform approach is pronounced within the field of journalism education, where capstone units are not universal and a number of models are being used. In Australia, research has found that most undergraduate journalism programmes include a capstone unit, but that there are three models: the internship, the newsroom simulation and the project. The aim here is not to argue that one model is more effective than and preferable to others. Instead, this study contributes to the capstone literature by outlining student responses to a new project model capstone unit for journalism undergraduates at a Western Australian university. It evaluates the unit’s effectiveness against the stated purposes and principles of a capstone experience, and concludes that the project can achieve the dual aims of enhancing disciplinary skills and developing broader transferable abilities.