Syllabus for LIB-495



Liberal Arts Capstone (LIB-495) provides engagement in a student-centered, content-related learning experience that serves as a summary and synthesis of courses in a student's undergraduate academic career. Students select an area of interest related to their academic studies and engage in an assignment leading to a research project, creative project, or applied project reflective of comprehensive knowledge gained in undergraduate studies and demonstrate their knowledge of the outcomes of the Bachelor of Arts degree. A capstone presentation and paper culminate the course.

Note: This is a course unlike any other you have taken during your academic career. In this course you will have a great deal of latitude over the direction you wish to take when developing a capstone project. Your course mentor is the facilitator, who will direct you toward your goal. You have the opportunity to follow your passion to explore and create a product or learn something that will add to the body of knowledge in your chosen field.


After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Determine an issue, problem, information gap, or creative endeavor in your field of inquiry.
  2. Demonstrate proficiency as an independent learner and critical thinker.
  3. Apply research and analysis techniques to the explanation and resolution of an information gap, issue, or problem, by studying or creating a project in your respective field.
  4. Design a project based on theory and knowledge from courses in your field of study.
  5. Synthesize the parts of research to produce a comprehensive, valid result in a concrete format.
  6. Reach conclusions through use of external resources that reflect knowledge.
  7. Apply all elements of scholarly assignment to a written document, utilizing Standard Academic English and APA or MLA format.
  8. Present an ethically responsible final project in an academic, professional format, as a bridge to your future work/employment.
  9. Demonstrate a comprehension of globally diverse perspectives.



You will need the following materials to do the work of the course.

Required Textbook

Online References, Resources, Learning Materials


Liberal Arts Capstone is a three-credit online course, consisting of six modules. Modules include the study assignments, discussion assignments, and written activities. Study assignments consist primarily of readings in the course textbook(s) and in course documents and supplemental research. Module titles are listed below.


One or more of the assignments in this course may involve original research. Research on persons other than yourself may require approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of Thomas Edison State University prior to beginning your research. Examples of research types that may need IRB review are questionnaires, surveys, passive observation of individuals, interviews, and experimental procedures. Research involving vulnerable populations will always need IRB review. An IRB review is designed to protect research subjects from potential harm.

The following links fully explain the purpose of the Institutional Research Board as well as how to determine if your research requires IRB review. If you are in doubt, always ask for guidance from the University.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in six graded online discussions; take the ETS Proficiency Profile test; complete six written assignments designed to help you incrementally prepare, and submit a paper on your research project, creative project, or applied project.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Promoting Originality

One or more of your course activities may utilize a tool designed to promote original work and evaluate your submissions for plagiarism. More information about this tool is available in this document.

Discussion Forums

Liberal Arts Capstone requires you to participate in periodic discussion assignments. In addition, you are required to participate in an ungraded Introductions forum in Module 1.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct assignments: an initial response to a posted assignment and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

For additional information on online discussions, see Online Discussions in the Online Student Handbook.

Written Assignments

Follow the directions given for each written assignment in the Module details.

For some techniques about how to write sentences with impact, read the article Working With Words.

Assignments must be prepared and submitted electronically. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file using the “Save As” command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

Types of Capstone Projects

Depending on your area of interest in your field, you may choose from among the following three types of capstone projects.

Research Project

Questions and Inquiries: You will select a gap in knowledge in your discipline created by an area that may not have been previously addressed in course content or may have served as inspiration for greater knowledge on the subject matter, idea, or concept. Through systematic inquiry, you will research, collect, organize, and produce an analysis of the information from both primary and secondary sources.

Your research project will conclude with a 25-page (minimum) scholarly report in Standard Academic English and with appropriate APA documentation, which successfully fills your gap in knowledge on the selected topic.

Creative Project

Audience Demonstration and Presentation: If you are a student in visual, performing, or literary arts you have the opportunity to synthesize knowledge by developing a creative product in your respective field of study. It may take the form of developing a film, choreographing a dance, acting in a production, exhibiting paintings, writing a collection of poetry or short stories, writing a play, writing a literary analysis, presenting a photographic essay, or any similar type of creative endeavor.

Your capstone will conclude with an explanatory report relating to the production of your project. It should reveal a synthesis of skills and content knowledge. The length of your explanatory report will be determined according to the nature of your project and subject to approval by your mentor, but it should be a minimum of 15 pages.

This type of project will require a demonstration using a either a PowerPoint presentation or a video presentation.

Applied Project

Question/Answer: If you are a student in business, education, social work, or public administration you have the option of selecting a problem within the context of your respective field of study and relating it to an organization, community, or institution. Your attempts to answer a real problem will represent your ability to synthesize and apply concepts learned through course content.

Your applied project will conclude with a 25-page (minimum) scholarly report, appropriately documented in APA format and written in Standard Academic English, that provides answers to the project question.

Capstone Project Presentation

Creative Project

If you choose to produce a Creative Project, you must showcase your work in either a PowerPoint presentation or a video presentation.

Research and Applied Projects

Although it is NOT a requirement for the Research and Applied Projects, you may wish to prepare either a PowerPoint presentation or a video presentation about your work to share with your mentor and classmates.

Capstone Project Paper

As noted above, each type of project requires that you write a paper with a certain minimum number of pages in length which you must submit to your mentor.

Documentation and Academic Integrity

During this course, you will be conducting research and presenting the results of that research. You may already know how to document sources--and avoid plagiarism--but if you need additional help, consult information in one of the following links:

These sites will help you style and format your capstone using either MLA or APA.

For additional information on academic integrity and citing sources, see Academic Integrity in the Online Student Handbook.

ETS® Proficiency Profile

This course requires that you complete an assessment called the ETS® Proficiency Profile. This test, offered through Educational Testing Service (ETS), measures general academic knowledge and skills in the core areas of reading, mathematics, writing, and critical thinking. It is a widely accepted standardized assessment tool that will provide the University with important data to assess its overall quality and effectiveness in meeting the general education needs of our students. It serves as a valuable tool in helping us measure progress in achieving established learning goals and evaluate the effectiveness of our programs.


The ETS Proficiency Profile is administered in a non-proctored, online format. It should take you no longer than 45 minutes to complete. The confidentiality of your responses and scores will be protected. Your individual score will not be recorded, but you will receive a certain percentage of your overall grade (see Syllabus for details) for completing the assessment. Consult the course Calendar for the due dates for taking this test.


Please use the following link that explains the steps involved in taking the exam, including the system checks that must be completed prior to taking the exam: ETS Proficiency Exam Instructions. Please read all instructions prior to taking the exam and allow extra time to complete the system checks.


To receive credit for completing the ETS Proficiency Profile, post a comment about the test and your experience taking it to the ETS Proficiency Profile discussion forum. In your posting, indicate the date on which you took and completed the test. For students taking a Guided Study version of the course, you may be asked to submit this information as an assignment instead of posting it to a discussion forum. Your mentor will verify your participation and will give you credit for it. Upon completing the test, you will receive a confirmation email from ETS. Retain this email for your records as verification that you completed the test.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a non-area of study course), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.


Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:

Please refer to the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at



Using someone else’s work as your own is plagiarism. Thomas Edison State University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing will be severely penalized. If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism 

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking


Disciplinary Process

First-time incidents of academic dishonesty concerning plagiarism may reflect ignorance of appropriate citation requirements. Mentors will make a good faith effort to address all first-time offenses that occur in courses. In these cases, the mentor may impose sanctions that serve as a learning exercise for the offender. These may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool including a lower grade when appropriate. The mentor will notify the student by e-mail. Decisions about the sanctions applied for subsequent plagiarism offenses or other violations will be made by the appropriate dean’s office, with the advice of the mentor or staff person who reported the violation. The student will be notified via certified mail of the decision. Options for sanctions include:

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