T. Briegel

All students at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates complete a capstone project as part of their requirements for graduation. Each student or group of students identifies an area of educational interest in a content field. An area of interest might be defined as, but not limited to, the following ways:

A. To create supplemental activities to expand those offered by textbooks
B. The need for appropriate teaching materials in a given area
C. To increase knowledge of teaching strategies
D. A request from the educational system to provide independent study materials for a range of special students
E. Exploring and/or solving an educational problem in the United Arab Emirates

The major criterion for selecting a project is its usefulness to the individual teacher or the learning community. The entire UAE education system from pre-kindergarten through higher education is under development. Since the inception of the country less than 40 years ago, education in the UAE has moved from a limited number of male-only religious schools to fully implemented pre-k through post-graduate schools for both males and females. The massive amount of change taking place has provided a wealth of opportunity for research in education at every level.

The senior projects required at Zayed University are designed to test the depth and breadth of learning acquired by each graduating student. Entrance requirements for ZU are high and every graduate is expected to become a leader in the classroom and at higher levels as appropriate experience is accrued. The capstone project is a student-selected, student-managed, academically demanding effort requiring students to learn to manage their time, work cooperatively with team members, faculty advisors, and the community for successful completion. The capstone program is the high point in a program designed to develop academic leaders for the United Arab Emirates.

In the past eight years, the program has been modified to provide as much opportunity as possible for students to be creative, productive, and make the leap from being students following the instructions of their professors to becoming managers of their own work and that of others.

This presentation will trace the development of the ZU capstone program and provide an analysis of the problems and successes of implementation. Examples of course instruments, including of evaluation tools, will be made available.