The Capstone Course or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Research

Hey everyone! Midterms are rapidly approaching for the students of CoRP and you can really feel the stress that comes along with it. Thankfully, we’ve been blessed with some beautiful weather this week! But before I go out and enjoy the weather and festivals taking place this weekend, I wanted to talk about an ongoing study that has actually impacted my life as well as the lives of many of my friends and fellow classmates.

For the last few years, undergraduate seniors enrolled in Marshall University’s Communication Disorders program have been required to complete a research-driven Capstone course before graduation. While engaging in a real, IRB approved research study, students enrolled in the Capstone course learn about information literacy – an essential skill for practicing SLPs who must constantly be aware of the best and most current Evidence Based Practice. Simultaneously, professor, clinician and CoRP member Beverly Miller and 2nd-year graduate student Kristen O’Neill are engaging in a qualitative study that attempts to examine the benefits and implications of the Capstone course.

The Capstone course can be divided into four distinct sections:

  1. Ethics of research
  2. The Research Design, which discusses data collection, informed consent and interviewing skills
  3. Analysis and Interpretation of Data, which includes the skill known as Coding
  4. Dissemination, in which students present their data to faculty and fellow classmates

As someone who attended Marshall’s undergraduate program, I can attest to the appropriate flow of the course between these four sections. Everything builds upon everything taught before it which makes the information manageable and easier to digest.


The Capstone course’s study looks at the life histories and stories of caregivers of someone that is disabled. Using an outline designed by Dan McAdams, student researchers interview caregivers, transcribe the interviews, swap these transcripts (which have been edited to remove any identifying information) with other classmates and begin the challenging process of coding the transcripts. Many of these transcripts will also be included in the ever-growing, IRB-approved database where, one day, people can go to learn about the lives of caregivers in Appalachia and implications surrounding their roles as caregivers.

The title of this blog, which references one of my favorite Stanley Kubrick films, really encompasses the end result of my Capstone experience. Prior to the course, I had little-to-no experience with reading and analyzing scholarly articles. Although it was a challenge from start to finish, the Capstone course was incredibly rewarding because I really feel as if I have an advantage over many graduate students from other colleges when it comes to analyzing articles. I have been bombarded by research in my 5 years at Marshall but that has made me more comfortable and confident as a researcher.

So that’s all for now! Before I go out and enjoy a relaxing weekend, I just want to say thanks, as always, for reading and having an interest in our group!