Community-based research Capstones give the opportunity to create and document our engagement as civic partners with our partner organizations through grant writing, mapping, analysis, and interviews. These courses also provide a blend of hands-on “real world” work with the community partner and more academic off-site research and writing resulting in documentation and funding for various local organizations. As one student described, “This capstone was the most memorable and valuable course I have ever taken because the entire course was directly linked to real world situations and developed critical professional skills. The entire course was an important learning experience.”
This kind of community-based research in Capstone courses takes many forms. The following are examples of what a student might encounter while learning within this theme:
- In the “Quality Assurance for Volunteer Stream Monitoring” Capstone, students coordinate and implement all aspects of the quality assurance project plan (QAPP) for the Student Watershed Research Project (SWRP)'s volunteer monitoring program.
- The “Medieval Portland” Capstone focuses on researching and producing support materials (podcasts) on medieval art at the Portland Art Museum and the Portland State Library Special Collections.
- In the “Research Experiences in Science” Capstone, the purpose is to provide linkages between the student's academic training in the sciences, specifically in physics and the application of this knowledge in the broader community.
Portland State University’s Office of Research and Strategic Partnerships notes several important connections between community-based research and the overall well-being and growth of the university. In PSU Capstone courses, community-based research work mirrors the mission of the university: to reflect the university’s educational mission, to advance knowledge for public use, and to contribute to the development of the community. In its 2010 Research Snapshot, the Office of Research and Strategic Partnerships states that “Portland State shines brightest when our scholars share their ideas with off-campus partners [which] are allowing PSU to dramatically broaden the positive impact of our work.” It is clear that our Capstone work shines brightly in this area of building powerful reciprocal relationships that result in positive impact for our students and community.