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This page includes information on both ENGL 485 (Senior Capstone Practicum in English) as well as ENGL 486 (English Education Capstone Presentation).

Guidelines for ENGL 485, Senior Capstone in English

All English majors MUST complete a capstone experience, no exceptions. Students taking ENGL 483, Senior Capstone in English, must wait until the last semester of enrollment to register for the course. With prior approval, special projects such as the Washington Semester and the Honors Thesis may be substituted for this course requirement--but all students (whether enrolled in ENGL 485, in Washington Semester, or in Honors Thesis) must complete all additional requirements of the Capstone course during the final semester of enrollment. These requirements are: resume/job search workshops, MFAT, exit survery, final portfolio submission, and capstone presentation.

Capstone project
Under the supervision of a full-time faculty mentor in the Department of English, the student will propose a project, have the proposal approved by the mentor, and execute the project. The student should concentrate on experiences s/he has had at Shepherd that would be useful to graduate school or career choices. Projects may include but are not limited to: preparation and presentation of a conference paper; development of a substantial website; creation of a special workshop for other English majors; and participation in a dramatic performance. At the end of the semester, students will present their projects to the full-time English faculty and anyone else interested in the presentations.

Capstone presentation
All students completing the capstone course or an alternate capstone experience (Washington Semester or Honors Thesis) will be required to present their work to the full-time English faculty. Students who are making presentations as part of their Honors Thesis may request--with advance notice--that English faculty attend the Honors Thesis presentation in lieu of participating in the senior English capstone presentations.

Resume/job search workshops
Each semester, Dr. Austin will conduct two job workshops (one on job searches, one on resumes/application letters). Attendance at these job workshops is mandatory for English majors in their final semester of enrollment (whether enrolled in Senior Capstone, Washington Semester, or Honors Thesis). Students in their final semesters will work with Dr. Tate on their resumes and their sample job application letters, both documents which will then be included in the final portfolio.

Graduate school workshops
Each semester, Dr. Michael Austin will conduct a workshop on application to graduate school. This workshop will be available to any student, but attendance will not be required.

MFAT exam
Each student in the final semester of enrollment (whether enrolled in ENGL 485, Washington Semester, or Honors Thesis) will take the MFAT exam. Dr. Patricia Dwyer will schedule and conduct the MFAT exam. She will also administer the exit survey.

Each student will create his/her portfolio under the close supervision of his/her faculty mentor. In addition to the resume and sample application letter (both developed with guidance from Dr. Tate), the portfolio will include an overall assessment letter and three to five samples of the student's work. The students must work closely with the mentor to create a portfolio which represents the breadth of the student's achievements in the English program. The student will choose the work from his/her courses that best demonstrates the learning goals the Department of English has identified as outcomes for our program. These are:

1) Student will demonstrate clear and effective expression in written English.

2) Student will demonstrate the ability to research from a variety of sources and evaluate, analyze, and synthesize the information.

3) Student will organize ideas in a clear and lucid argument.

4) Student will appreciate the global significance of humanist tradition as manifested in the literature of various times and cultures.

5) Student will demonstrate original and critical thinking including the ability to analyze text.

The portfolio will include:

1) Table of contents

2) Cover letter to department (letter will reflect on student's learning experiences with specific references to the portfolio contents that demonstrate the Department of English learning outcomes)

3) Resume and application letter (a one-page resume and one-page application letter to a potential employer)

4) 3 to 5 pieces from class work to be showcased (student-selected works that demonstrate the outcomes listed above; works included will probably be primarily from upper-division or advanced courses and will utilize MLA or other appropriate format; other pertinent material could also be included, e.g., Picket articles, peer tutoring assignments, conference papers, websites, PowerPoint presentations, etc.)

Hard copy versions of the portfolio should be submitted in a three-ring binder. Web portfolios (with relevant texts hyperlinked) are also permissible.

For more information about the Senior Capstone in English, contact Dr. Tim Nixon.

Guidelines for ENGL 486, English Education Capstone Presentation

Course Description
This English education capstone presentation serves as a complementary component for the student teaching experience, considered the penultimate "capstone" experience for teaching majors. Working under the supervision of the English Specialization Coordinator and drawing from experiences encountered in the student teaching assignment or other Departmental service or activity related to the teaching profession, the apprentice teacher will participate in the end-of-semester Department of E nglish capstone presentations, sharing a teaching unit, a lesson series, a project initiated during the field experience, or a project or activity completed in the E nglish Department that relates to the teaching profession and/or field of English studies. The following Intended Student Outcomes will be demonstrated in the capstone presentation:

  • Satisfactory completion of Capstone Abstract;
  • Satisfactory completion of Portfolio;
  • Mastery of project substance and content;
  • Mastery of oral presentation skills;
  • Mastery of use of technology.


The portfolio, begun by the English Education student prior to Juncture I, will be polished and refined prior to the Student Teaching semester (Juncture II), and will serve as a final mode of reflection on the relationship and integration between teaching theory and practice. The English Education Handbook details those professional requirements for the portfolio ; however, the portfolio will also contain evidence of those discipline-related learning goals and outcomes valued in the English Department Program:

  • Students will demonstrate clear and effective expression in written English;
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to research from a variety of sources and evaluate, analyze, and synthesize the information;
  • Students will organize ideas in a clear and lucid argument;
  • Students will appreciate the global significance of humanist tradition as manifested in the literature of various times and cultures;
  • Students will demonstrate original and critical thinking including the ability to analyze text.

The portfolio will include:

  • Table of contents;
  • Updated resume;
  • Updated teaching philosophy;
  • A collection of materials and documents that reflect the professional growth and competence of the apprentice Language Arts teacher in the teaching profession.
  • A collection of materials and documents that reflect the growth and competence of the student in the field of English language and literature.
  • A cover letter to the Department of English reflecting on the student's learning experiences in the Program and referencing those English courses, activities, and experiences that have shaped the student's professional development and persona.

A web version or web supplements to the portfolio may also be created which can hyperlink to PowerPoint programs created in the Methods course, Teacher Course Page, Writing Center materials created by the students, and/or other examples of texts and assignments that the student has created during his/her years of study in the English Department .

English Education Departmental Competency Assessment
Students enrolled in the capstone who have not taken the Competency Assessment Exam Post-test must do so during the semester of the capstone presentation . Study materials can be found at the following website: The Praxis II test will also be taken during the capstone semester.

Final Grade and Program Assessment
At midterm, the student will receive a grade from the Specialization Coordinator which reflects the quality of his/her work during the student teaching placement, the quality of his/her portfolio, and completion of capstone abstract. The final grade will reflect all of the above but principally the quality of the student's end-of-semester presentation (see Abstract and Capstone Presentation Evaluation forms). English Education students must receive a C or better in ENGL 486 in order to complete the program and receive certification.


Department of English and Modern Languages | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5220 | 800-344-5231