Honors Capstones

What Is An Honors Capstone?

The honors capstone project is a 3 credit-hour, individualized, culminating experience in the student's major. The project might be a thesis, a creative work, or an empirical research project that focuses the student on scholarly activity under the mentorship of a major professor. The honors capstone is the type of distinctive experience that sets our students apart when they apply to graduate school or professsional jobs.

The goal of the honors capstone is to demonstrate increasingly independent scholarship in the student’s discipline(s). We define “scholarship” as the integration of a new idea or perspective into the existing body of knowledge for a discipline or disciplines. This "new idea" could take many forms, including examples such as a thesis statement, a scientific hypothesis, a novel application, or a creative vision. This "new idea" need not be completely original or novel in every sense of the word. Indeed, 99% of all scholarship is built upon past work. As such, the honors capstones will often simply provide a fresh perspective or novel approach to existing issues in a field. For example, a replication of a past experiment with a new sample could represent a new perspective on an established phenomenon.

Complete details about the honors capstone process and requirements can be found in the Honors Capstone Handbook on the Honors College D2L page. Students receive guidance on developing their project from their honors faculty advisor or by taking HNRS 300, the 1-credit capstone preparation course.


Examples of Honors Capstones

The Big Boom Theory: Powder, People, and Politics

Highlander Scholar: Adam Bennett

Faculty Mentor: Matt Oyos

Bennett examines the impact that World War II had on the city of Radford, and the surrounding counties of the New River Valley. On August 22, 1940, when surveying began for an Army ammunition plant, the Radford area changed dramatically. This led to a change in the environment, the population, and the economy of this Appalachian community. Numerous primary sources gathered from the archives of local libraries, including Radford University and Virginia Tech, provide an in-depth examination of how a world war can impact a small, mountain city.

Cardiac Variable Scoring in Obstrusuctive Sleep Apnea

Highlander Scholar: Wesley DuBose

Faculty Mentor: Adrian Aron

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is characterized by complete obstruction of the airway causing a stoppage of breathing leading to oxygen deprivation. OSA is mostly undiagnosed, although can be identified with an expensive overnight observation. This study aims to test a new way of screening for OSA in place of the overnight study. The study uses a six variable score, each variable has been shown to be unique to OSA sufferers. Using a bioimpedance cardiac monitor, patients were tested during periods of normal breathing with 30 sec apnea periods to simulate OSA conditions. Subjects were 15 healthy males (Mean ± SD: age = 37.7 ± 5.6 yr; BMI = 22.7 ± 1.8; neck circumference = 38.1 ± 2.1) and 17 recently diagnosed OSA patients (age = 47.3 ± 10.5 yr; BMI = 34.1 ± 6.9; AHI = 40.9 ± 33.8). Healthy patients and patients recently diagnosed with OSA were given a score based on the prevalence of the following variables: BMI, neck circumference, myocardial contractility during and after Mueller Maneuver, stroke volume at second 90 and second 120 following MM. The assigned score was different between groups (OSA = 4.1 ± 1.3; healthy = 0.8 ± 0.9, p < 0.05) and correlate positively with OSA severity (r = 0.6, p < 0.05). This score was shown to be predictive of OSA with neck circumference having the highest prognostic value. Future research is needed to determine this score accuracy in a larger population.

Regenerative Rending

Highlander Scholar: Lacie Omps

Faculty Mentor: danah bella

"Regenerative Rending" is a choreographic study investigating superficial and profound borders within society, including culture, class, religion, maturation, relationships, and race. During the research process, the focus will be directed toward the development, perpetuation, and deconstruction of said divisions. Furthermore, the choreographic study will delve into individual perspectives as well as individual experiences within societal borders. Therefore, the methodology will include theories, studies, multimedia, literature, folk dances, and one-on-one interviews. The findings will culminate in a thirty to forty minute choreographic project to be disseminated to my peers. Movement has the potential to evoke conversation relating to the theme of the choreographic study as well as allowing the opportunity to reexamine one‘s opinions and views. Throughout the choreographic study, movement phrases will pertain to the development, perpetuation, and deconstruction of said divisions within society. As such, my peers will have the opportunity to discuss with the choreographer her findings as well as their reaction to the movement presented.

Natural Childbirth Education and Planning

Highlander Scholar: Jessica Rakes

Faculty Mentor: Sharla Cooper

Many pregnant mothers desire to have a natural childbirth, but this idea is pushed aside when the excitement and overwhelming stages of labor begin. Nurses should be more educated on the non-pharmacological methods and breathing techniques that can be offered to pregnant mothers. It is the duty of the nurse to be involved in allowing and encouraging pregnant mothers to follow their desired natural childbirth plan, rather than settling on pharmacological methods for pain management. Pregnant mothers should be informed of labor pain management opportunities and relaxation breathing techniques prior to hospitalization; if this is not accomplished, it is the nurse‘s responsibility to be properly educated to coach their patients. Alongside childbirth education instructor, Megan McNamara, I observed alternative pain management strategies and breathing patterns to control labor pain. Candice Matthis, a Doula in the New River Valley, provided insight into coaching pregnant mothers through natural childbirth. Through evidence based research, childbirth education classes and the interview of a doula, I have formed a lesson plan to educate nursing students at Radford University. All information has been thoroughly researched and compiled into an evidenced based paper to achieve the goal of this Capstone; which is to further educate myself, future nurses, and pregnant mothers of breathing techniques and non-pharmacological methods used for pain management during the labor process.

Sensibly Chic: Researching and Designing Around Claire McCardell and Coco Channel

Highlander Scholar: Renata Schmersal

Faculty Mentor: Kathy Mitchell

As a fashion designer, a person will pull inspiration from many different sources. Current trends, interesting artwork, nature, and designers from previous decades are all popular sources of inspiration. Two iconic designers which have inspired many emerging as well as established fashion designers are Claire McCardell and Coco Channel. Polar opposites in the fashion world, and yet they coincided in the same time periods and created unique legacies in the fashion world. During this project I sought to discover the two designer‘s greatest works and their unique lasting legacies before synthesizing their unique approaches to design in order to develop one modern line of cocktail apparel. This was executed by doing research on both Chanel‘s and McCardell‘s lifestyles (what drove their designs), design history, and signature apparel. I then drew from this information and combined it with modern trends to begin the formation of a unique line of women‘s apparel. Twenty or more sketches of ensembles were developed, ten of which were chosen and put into a fully rendered drawing. One garment was selected and taken from sketch through the pattern making and construction processes to a completed garment. A comparison of the two designers was written into a research paper. A PowerPoint of the complete process, from inspiration to completed garment, was created in order to visually illustrate the process taken and include the research.