Undergraduate Capstone Projects

Tara Dickinson is a Fall 2021 graduate who double majored in Communication Sciences and Psychology and minored in Public Health.

Theresa Lee is a fourth year undergraduate student double majoring in Communication Sciences and Psychology and minoring in Spanish











What is your capstone project on and what made you interested in this subject?

Theresa: My literature review focused on the effects of genetic taster status on swallowing. Before, I had heard about supertasters such as people who find chocolate extremely bitter or fruit extremely sweet, and thought that was super interesting. I was excited to find out that there is a small niche or intersection between genetic taster status and swallowing.

Tara: I surveyed recent SLP graduates on what their graduate programs taught about gender diversity and how their programs prepared them to work with transgender and gender diverse clients. This community has been marginalized and faced significant healthcare disparities, so this area of education is really important for future SLPs working in any setting.

What was your favorite part of this capstone project?

Theresa: I enjoyed gathering the background information the most, as I had very little prior knowledge about taste and swallowing. It was fascinating to learn about genetic taster status specifically, I feel like it is such a unique tidbit of knowledge among the general public. I enjoy being able to explain what I learned to my friends who don’t study the subject.

Tara: I really enjoyed the literature review process. I had already been reading articles in this area before choosing my capstone topic, so it was really interesting to delve deeper into the literature and notice gaps where future research is needed.

Was there any portion of this capstone that surprised you? If so, what was it?

Theresa: One thing that surprised me was having to cut down a lot of what I wrote. Initially, I was really worried that I wouldn’t know what to say or that I wouldn’t have anything to say. But turns out, I ended up working a lot toward making things concise, standardizing the way I write, and balancing under/over-explaining. 

Tara: I had never written a survey for a research study before, so I learned a lot about developing effective wording of survey questions. Besides the wording, it was also a bit difficult to decide what questions were most relevant to this research project, as I had some other ideas that I was interested in that were beyond the scope of this project.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin a capstone project?

Theresa: I would say to allow yourself to make the project yours. You can refer to sample projects but you don’t have to feel like you need to model off of others exactly. I would also say to utilize your mentors’ expertise as often and as much as you can, don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how small they may seem.  

Tara: Start early! IRB approval and literature review can take a while, and I appreciated having more time later in the project to refine my paper and work on my presentation.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when completing your capstone?  

Theresa: The biggest challenge was, once I had ideas I wanted to write about, to actually sit down and write them out. It can be overwhelming to start writing, to feel the pressure to make your first try perfect. I realized that the first try will be very far from perfect, regardless of if you write it now or later. So it doesn’t hurt to start earlier and get to the more enjoyable (for me, at least) part of editing. 

Tara: Getting a large sample size was tough! I ended up with a smaller group of survey respondents after advertising online, but I think that smaller sample still yielded some interesting and useful results.

Stay tuned for more lab updates!


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