Culminating experiences are the final requirements graduate students complete to demonstrate their learning. The English Department offers four options: thesis, creative thesis, curricular artifact, research project. This is the second blog in a series of posts where I will expand on each of the culminating experience options offered to English graduates to assist students in determining which direction to take their degree.
The academic goal of a culminating experience is to ensure that all English graduate students complete their studies with a high-impact learning experience that enables them to apply the learning components of their studies to a tangible creation of their own. A graduate degree that ends with a culminating experience project admits the graduate student as a peer scholar. The Curricular Artifact option demonstrates a graduate student’s ability to apply what they are learning to their own classrooms at their real-world placement.
What is a Curricular Artifact?
A Curricular Artifact is a well-researched curriculum proposal, including all necessary documents and materials, which support the creation of a unit or course for school districts. This culminating experience option is in place of a traditional thesis. It is an option ideal for current teachers in the field.
Typical Curricular Artifacts are broken into several chapters with relevant materials contained within them. These sections may change with the advisement of your thesis chair. The structure of this project commonly includes an introduction, literature review, explanation of design, material artifacts section, reflection, and conclusion. More information on what should be contained within these chapters can be found in the Proposal Guidelines for a Curricular Artifact Capstone in English posted on the department website.
What will a Curricular Artifact help me accomplish beyond graduation from my program?
The direct application of the Curricular Artifact is the intersection of graduate work and classroom work. This capstone enables you to deeply reflect on what needs to be modified and/or implemented in your placement and affords you time and space to execute that change with support from faculty.
What changes do you wish to see at your placement? What curriculum adjustments would students benefit from? The Curriculum Artifact is the perfect opportunity for a graduate student to address these questions and provide concrete evidence to support their answers.
How should I begin the Curricular Artifact Process?
There is pre-work necessary to successfully navigate researching and writing a Curricular Artifact. To begin the process, interested students are encouraged to work with their thesis chair prior to completing their Curricular Artifact Proposal.
If you have already identified an area of personal interest, your chair will help you determine the best next steps. For example, if you decide you want to focus on African American literature in high school, the chair might help you determine whether you want to create a curriculum for a new elective or outline a unit that fits within the existing curriculum of a course already offered. If you do not have any specific ideas for your project, you and the chair can brainstorm together, based on your Degree Audit.
After all their effort, students are encouraged to pursue the actualization of their work. Perhaps submitting their curriculum to their school board for review.