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Grant to Fund Study of Senior Thesis

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Teagle Foundation grant of $145,544 will enable Hampshire College and six other innovative liberal arts colleges to participate in comparative assessment of senior theses in order to gather and analyze shared data that can aid in improved teaching and learning.

"The senior capstone represents one of the richest sources of direct evidence of student learning," said Steven Weisler, dean of academic development at Hampshire and administrator of the grant. "Yet, it is rare for institutions to systematically use this rich set of data to lead to continuous improvement."

Hampshire will work with Smith, Bard, Bennington, Colorado, and Wellesley Colleges and New College of Florida. Shared data over four years and analysis of collective progress of students will enable the participating colleges to determine strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning in varied approaches to the senior thesis.

For purposes of the study, the capstone experience includes honors theses, required senior projects, and other forms of culminating work completed by students on the threshold of graduation. At Hampshire, every student completes a final yearlong project of original work, always with a written component, that is called the Division III.

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