Developmental and Family Science (DVFS) Capstone Thesis

Department of Human Development and Family Science

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Goals

1. Synthesize knowledge and skills gained as a DVFS major, and use them in a research project of interest related to human development and family science.

2. Explore in-depth an interest in the human development and family science field.

3. Get exposure to how research is conducted within human development and family science.

4. Gain experience working collaboratively with a research mentor and/or research team in a lab related to interests and career goals.

5. Gain an understanding of how research is used to answer questions about human development, and learn how to make decisions using the logic of the scientific method.

Basic Elements of the Mentored Research Experience

1.  The experience requires six credits over two semesters (usually senior year). The old version of this process used the course number HDFS 49100. The new version will use HDFS 49101 and HDFS 49102. Students may use HDFS 49100 until the new courses become available.

2.  Engage in a research process that includes the following:

  • Develop a research project plan with clear objectives.
  • Relate the objectives of the project to the child, adult and family research literature.
  • Execute the project plan.
  • Communicate the results of the project clearly using appropriate research-related methods.

3.  The research plan does not need to involve empirical hypothesis testing. If you are participating in research at an earlier stage, your research might investigate topics such as participant recruitment or attrition; measure selection, reliability or validity; or other topics essential to human development and family studies research.

The student and faculty mentor are required to do the following:

Prior to registration

The student must identify a faculty mentor who agrees to support the project as well as a broad topic. Faculty members in the Department of Human Development and Family Science who have agreed to serve as mentors can be found here.

Semester One

  • The student and faculty mentor will meet a minimum of twice per month to ensure the student is getting the mentorship they need and expected progress is being made.
  • No later than four weeks into the first semester, the student/faculty mentor must submit a signed learning contract to the undergraduate committee outlining the topic of the student’s research project and a plan/timeline for meeting benchmarks each semester.
  • With faculty support, the student must do the following:
    • Conduct a literature review.
    • Develop a research question and hypotheses.
    • Identify a data source and develop a methodological and analytical plan.
  • With faculty support, the student must write a one-page, single-spaced research proposal that includes the following components:
    • Research question(s)
    • Background (with references)
    • Approach and methodology
    • Significance
  • The student must then submit the proposal to the undergraduate committee and gain approval one month prior to the final undergraduate committee meeting (the faculty mentor will provide the exact date). The capstone subcommittee will evaluate the project for appropriate scope and rigor. If the capstone subcommittee does not accept the project plan as submitted, feedback will be provided to the student and faculty mentor, and the student will be given an opportunity to submit a revised plan for review and approval.

Semester 2

  • The student and faculty mentor will meet a minimum of twice per month to ensure the student is getting the mentorship they need and expected progress is being made.
  • With faculty support, the student must do the following:
    • Carry out the proposed and approved research plan.
    • Write a 10-15 page paper (not including references) on the project in APA format that includes the components of a manuscript (introduction, methods, results and discussion).
  • The faculty mentor must support the student in study design, selection of variables, data cleaning, statistical analysis and interpretation, decisions around presentation of results, and preparation of the document.
  • The faculty mentor must provide feedback during the writing of the research proposal and grade the final proposal. The final paper should be deposited with the schedule deputy so a departmental record of capstone projects may be kept.
  • The student must give an oral presentation in poster format to a scholarly audience (not the research team with whom the student has been working). It is strongly recommended the student give a presentation at a conference hosted by a relevant professional organization or at the Purdue Undergraduate Research Conference. The faculty mentor must provide guidance on where the student should present.