AVS 401: Capstone in AVS I


Students will draw together the knowledge and experiences they have gathered in their undergraduate program to create a Capstone experience.  This takes the form of a project which reflects the culmination of their degree and the work typical of their academic field of study.  Students will identify a faculty mentor to supervise their project, which investigates a problem in animal or veterinary science, aquaculture, or a related field.  The investigation may include scientific research in a laboratory, farm, or field site; literature review; meta-analysis; survey; design problem solving; or other hypothesis-driven testing.  For this course, students are required to submit a written experimental proposal describing their project and the process of testing and assessment, and present an oral report to faculty and students.  AVS 401 and 402 collectively serve as the Capstone experience for Animal and Veterinary Sciences students. This course fulfills a Writing Intensive requirement.

Course Goals

The student will conduct a research project under the supervision of a faculty member, complete a written project proposal that will explain the project objectives and the context behind the proposal, and present a report to faculty and students. Students completing the general education area of Capstone experience will be able to:

  1. Synthesize knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained throughout the student’s major concentration of study.
  2. Demonstrate competence within the discipline through professional conduct and, as appropriate, critical reasoning, analytical ability, and creativity.
  3. Demonstrate effective communication skills.

Student Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this course, student will have the skills to perform the following numbered tasks.  Course objectives specific to each learning outcome are provided as lettered explanations.

  1. How to find and assess the quality of scientific information.
    1. In assembling background information about their topic, students will learn how to perform a search of scientific databases, how to read scientific literature, and how to assess information for validity and generalizability.
    2. In peer-reviewing other student research proposals, students will learn how to peer-reviews manuscripts, including reviewing, editing, and scientific critique.
  2. How to create a research proposal.
    1. Students will learn how to write a short, informal summary of their project.
    2. Students will learn how write a scientific project proposal, including how to format documents according to a pre-specified scientific format.
    3. Students will learn how to incorporate instructor and peer-review comments and revisions, and how to progress the maturity of concepts and writing with each successive draft. (Writing Intensive objective)
    4. Students will learn how to explain their process and controls to ensure the project is rigorously designed, how to present information in a logical and scientific manner
    5. Students will learn how to build a citation database and use it to create relevant in-line citations and a bibliography.
  3. How to conduct research.
    1. Through their participation in research under the guidance of a faculty mentor, students will learn broadly about scientific research, including ethical standards and institutional approval, identifying research questions and hypotheses to test, designing robust experiments which incorporate experimental controls to test the hypotheses, data collection and curation, data analysis and evaluation, statistical validity, and interpretation of results.
  4. How to present scientific information.
    1. Students will learn how to present a short, informal summary of their project.
    2. Students will learn how to create an oral presentation using software tools and present to a technical audience.

Taught Spring semesters as of 2022

Satisfies a Writing Intensive general education requirement


** Syllabus is subject to change.



Attendance policy: Students are expected to attend lectures, but it is understood that life often precludes this.  Students may attend class virtually, through Zoom, which will be offered for each class.  Students who will miss a significant number of classes, or who require additional accommodations, may contact me to make alternate arrangements.

  • Pregnancy, lactation, and parenting: I am happy to make accommodations for students based on pregnancy, lactation, and parental needs, as well as work with the Office of Equal Opportunities. Maine state and UMaine policy allows students to breastfeed in any space, including in class. If a lactation space is required, please contact E.O. for arrangements.
  • Food insecure? Need clothes? Check out the Black Bear Exchange’s Food Pantry: https://umaine.edu/volunteer/black-bear-exchange/ or Old Town Crossroads Ministry.

Class participation: Students are expected to participate in discussions in class.  I strive to create inclusive discussions, but if students still find it challenging to participate please notify me and I will alter the discussion format as needed.

Late Assignments: I will accept assignments after the due date. You will not receive a grade reduction for late assignments, but you waive the right to receive feedback which might impact the quality of successive drafts and your next grade.  Assignments will not be accepted after the final exam slot for this class.

Classroom policy: Supporting inclusion and community in science is an active process that involves both invitation, and support to ensure that the scientific community is and remains an equitable and inclusive place. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner, and to abide by University policies.

Campus Policies: “The University of Maine is an EEO/AA employer, and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities.” Follow the links for more information.

Academic Honesty Statement*   

Students Accessibility Services Statement*

Course Schedule Disclaimer*

Observance of Religious Holidays/Events*

Sexual Discrimination Reporting (Long)*

Sexual Discrimination Reporting (Short)*

** I am a “mandatory reporter”.  If you disclose something to me, I am obligated to disclose to the relevant campus Title IX office.  This includes information revealed in class assignments.