The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) degree has been implemented in American universities for more than half a century. The philosophy behind the BIS is that learning, knowledge, and process must be integrated into a coherent whole. To demonstrate such learning, BIS students are required to participate in a Capstone process where they: (a) choose three academic areas of study; (b) define a research, service learning, or creative learning project; (c) identify a three-member faculty Capstone committee, and (d) implement and summarize their work at a BIS defense meeting. At Weber State, many academic departments participate in the BIS program. Here are a couple of key items in understanding how the Capstone process works:
- Prospective BIS students choose three academic areas and meet with approved advisors from those areas to prepare BIS contract emphases. These contract emphases must contain a minimum of 18 semester hours and cannot be double-dipped with general education courses.
- A student schedules an admission appointment with the BIS advisor/Program Coordinator. During the admissions meeting, credit hour totals necessary for graduation (including upper division credits) are counted, a program of study is formally indicated for the BIS degree, and initial ideas for a Capstone project are discussed. The BIS advisor/Program Coordinator inputs the program of study into CatTracks.
- A student selects a three-member BIS committee representing each academic emphasis. The student formally asks each professor to be on the committee and selects one individual to serve as the BIS committee chair. Members of the committee can be substituted if a student desires, however, the student must inform the original committee member of the substitution.
- The student registers for BIS 3800 when approximately one-third of all BIS academic coursework is completed. This course prepares students to understand the four types of Capstone projects and their associated requirements.
- Capstone projects fall into four categories: (a) primary research conducted with a Weber State professor, (b) secondary research pertaining to a unique problem or issue determined by the student, (c) service learning with a local community agency, and (d) creative capstone project where artifacts determined by the student and the committee are produced.
- A major course outcome for BIS 3800 is the production of a Capstone PROPOSAL detailing what the student’s capstone concept includes. A proposal meeting is arranged by the student so faculty can have input and guidance into the initial Capstone conceptualization.
- The student begins approved Capstone work and registers for BIS 4800. It is critical during this time that the student communicate frequently with committee members to elicit feedback regarding Capstone work.
- At the conclusion of the student’s work, a Capstone Defense is called by the student and the Capstone committee chair. The student presents his/her work to the committee and the BIS director/Assistant director.
- The Capstone committee works with the BIS director to determine project scoring and final grading.
- The BIS director inputs a final grade for BIS 4800
Duties for BIS Committee Chairs entail: (a) helping the student to conceptualize/refine Capstone Project ideas, (b) assisting the student with determining and using appropriate project methodology and/or creative process, and (c) encouraging the student’s progress toward successful completion of the Project’s Defense.
Duties for BIS Committee Members entail: (a) supporting the committee chair in helping the student define and implement a powerful Capstone Project, (b) ensuring that the student has connected, summarized, and implement key knowledge, research, and/or skills from your academic discipline, and (c) reading and making suggestions for the student’s written Capstone Project Report.
The Capstone Interdisciplinary Learning Letter and Rubric can be found here.
To complete the Capstone Interdisciplinary Learning Rubric as a committee member, please go here.
Any issues or problems arising from BIS students should be reported immediately to the BIS director. Upon identification of issues, etc. the director will schedule a meeting with the student to discuss and resolve any issues or problems.