AP Capstone

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The AP Capstone program is new to Dover High School. The original members are currently seniors completing the second year of the program. The Capstone program is split up between two years. The first year is AP Seminar. AP Central states, “AP Seminar is a foundational course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore the complexities of academic and real-world topics and issues by analyzing divergent perspectives.” The course is designed to have kids learn how to break down problems through different types of perspectives, analyze arguments and take information from several sources (AP Central). The exam for AP Seminar consists of two written papers and two oral presentations (one in a group and one individual) based on what the student chooses to do. Along with those, the students complete a two-part AP exam.
The second year of the Capstone program is AP Research. AP Central states, “AP Research, the second course in the AP Capstone experience, allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, issue, or idea of individual interest.” The course is designed to have students organize an investigation for a research question for an entire year. The class has students build upon principles learned in AP Seminar along with research methodology and research ethics (AP central). For AP Research, the exam consists of the 4000-5000 word paper and a presentation and oral defense.
At Dover High School, the first year, AP Seminar, is open to the top students after their sophomore year. Taught by Sarah Nottingham, the class goes over the structure of argumentation and analyzing arguments in the first semester. By the second semester, students start their projects that they turn into AP. The class structure itself was loose because it involved a lot of independent classwork. For the actual exam, the class prepares you very well going into it.
The second year, AP Research, is taken as a senior. This is the first year this class is being completed at Dover. Taught by Julie Altier, the class is geared around analyzing and conducting research based on the student’s choice of question. The entire report is done individually with the help of mentors, so the year has a majority of the time designated to independent work.
The two-year program is meant to be completed to achieve the AP Capstone Diploma. Students have the option of earning the AP Capstone Diploma or the AP Seminar and Research Certificate. AP Central states, “Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing receive the AP Capstone Diploma. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research but not on four additional AP Exams receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate” (AP Central). Though the program is designed to give students research experience, it is also used to stand out to colleges. This program is a great bonus to a college application; however, at Dover, the two-year program is completed at the end of the student’s senior year, so the capstone student is only considered a candidate during the college application process. In addition, AP Capstone credits are not uniformly accepted by every college yet.
The AP Capstone itself is well-designed and provides students with a grasp of the process it takes to complete educational research. Students who complete the class have the advantage of knowing the fundamentals of completing a dissertation for post-secondary research or graduate school. The class also provides students with help in public speaking and presentation skills.