Developing more diverse and inclusive capstones for undergraduate management and business students

Angela Mazzetti, Senior Lecturer in Management Practice

Newcastle University Business School

Humanities and Social Sciences

What did you do?

We designed and implemented two alternative capstones: Advanced Business Practice (a practice-based alternative to consultancy-style projects) and Advanced Business Topics (a research-based alternative to the traditional dissertation).

Graduate Framework

This approach develops the following attributes:

  • Critical Thinkers
  • Confident

Staff can find out more about the Graduate Framework on the University intranet.

Who is involved?

Angela Mazzetti, Senior Lecturer in Management Practice, Newcastle University Business School.

Dr Stefanie Reissner, Senior Lecturer in Management and Organisation Studies, Newcastle University Business School.

How did you do it?

Driven by a desire to offer a better range of capstones to meet our diverse student and employer needs, Newcastle University Business School developed two alternative offerings.

The first alternative, Advanced Business Practice, was designed to provide students with a practice-based alternative to the consultancy project. The module uses an interactive business simulation to engage in realistic and practical business challenges. After refreshing their knowledge about key management areas in class, students engage in several decision cycles in the simulation. They then analyse and interpret the data they generated and write up their findings in the form of a business report.

The second alternative, Advanced Business Topics, was designed to provide students with a research-based alternative to the dissertation. It enables students to systematically engage with a contemporary business topic to which they are introduced in class and produce an in-depth literature review on a question related to their topic. This module offers an alternative for students wishing to learn more about a topic of contemporary scholarly interest without any explicit or implicit expectation to conduct primary research.

Why did you do it?

The dissertation has long been assumed to be the most appropriate capstone for final year undergraduate business and management students. However, there are hidden assumptions that students have access to social and business networks that can facilitate access for them to capture their primary data; that they have the aptitude to design and conduct a traditional dissertation, and that the traditional dissertation is the best way of consolidating their learning to prepare them for their future careers.

With diversifying student cohorts and a drive for employability, a dissertation may not be the best capstone to meet student and employer needs. Consultancy-style capstones have emerged as an alternative to the scholarly dissertation. Although a more practice-based alternative, these capstones assume that students have the requisite communication skills, self-confidence, and the ability to be responsive to fluctuating team dynamics and client demands. Such alternatives may therefore disadvantage students who lack these implicit language, self-efficacy, and inter-personal skills.

Does it work?

We are now evaluating the impact of the new capstones at the end of the first year of delivery. Feedback from students and the module delivery teams has been positive. The metrics in terms of student engagement and success have also been good.

Contact details

Angela Mazzetti, Senior Lecturer in Management Practice


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