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Senior Assignment

Individual Department and Program Senior Assignment Descriptions
College of Arts and Sciences


The Senior Assignment consists of intensive and extensive research on a topic selected during the first semester of a two-semester sequence. Students work with an assigned faculty mentor. The completed projects include a written report or research paper, and may also include a museum display, web site, artistic project, or other creative product that suits the student's career goals. Students present their projects at a public gathering that includes faculty, other students, and appropriate guests. Grades are based on the collective decision of the faculty regarding the quality of the research and of the presentation.

The courses ANTH 490 (Senior Assignment) and 491 (Senior Project) are linked to the Anthropology Senior Assignment. Each course is 1 credit hour and both are required for graduation. The department's web site has more information and can be found at

Art and Design

Bachelor of Fine Arts: B.F.A. candidates must formally exhibit their art works and present a written paper (artist's statement) - both requirements are assessed by departmental faculty. B.F.A. candidates must also take and pass ART 405 in their senior year.

Bachelor of Arts: B.A. candidates must present a formal review of their art works (portfolio) and present a written paper (artist's statement) - both requirements are assessed by departmental faculty. B.A. candidates must also take and pass ART 405 in their senior year.

Bachelor of Arts, Art History Specialization: B.A. candidates must present an original paper, which will be assessed by departmental faculty. Senior exit examinations are also required.

Bachelor of Science, Art Education: B.S. candidates must satisfactorily complete and pass student teaching; prepare a student portfolio including: (a) set of four lesson plans or total unit, (b) set of visuals (photos, slides, videos) reflecting student work and performance, (c) 500-word essay regarding the importance of art education as part of the general education curriculum, (d) excerpts from the student teaching journal describing peak experiences in teaching, (e) other pertinent material that the student deems appropriate.

Biological Sciences

All senior Biology undergraduate students are required to enroll in either BIOL 492 or BIOL 497. BIOL 492 is Colloquium in Ecology, Evolution, and Environment (sections a and b) or Colloquium in Cell and Molecular Biology (sections c and d) and is a 1-credit-hour pass/fail course. BIOL 497: Senior Assignment is 2 credit hours, and is also a 1-credit-hour pass/fail course.

Students enrolled in these courses are required to develop a capstone research report or conduct a capstone research project. Upon completion, students present their findings as either a research poster or an oral research presentation at a formal seminar. A minimum of three department faculty evaluate each presentation based on specific benchmarks.


Students are required to present either: a poster with a 10-15 minute oral presentation and defense, or a 20-30 minute PowerPoint oral presentation and defense. Students present either their own chemical research conducted within the department or on a current topic within chemistry or biochemistry. All topics are approved by the faculty supervisor for the course. All students are expected to do library work and gather and evaluate the information obtained. All departmental faculty are responsible for evaluating the resulting projects.

CHEM 499 (Senior Assignment) for 0 credit hours is required for graduation. The Department of Chemistry's web site also has information on the Senior Assignment at

Criminal Justice Studies (Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies)

As part of the University's assessment program, all undergraduate majors in Criminal Justice are required to complete a Senior Assignment. This will occur during completion of the Supervised Internship (CJ 488). The internship is generally taken during the final year of coursework, but in no case sooner than completion of at least six Criminal Justice courses, including Methods (CJ 302) and Data Analysis (303). As part of the internship, students are required to write a paper about their experience and its relationship to their coursework in Criminal Justice, and to make a presentation to the Criminal Justice faculty that is also open to the general University community. The Department's web site has additional information at

English Language and Literature

All senior English majors must enroll in ENG497A: Senior Seminar. The Senior Seminar is a variable-topics course in which students engage in a substantial research project, culminating in a paper of 15-20 pages. This project requires students to synthesize the learning they have done within their major and apply it to a specific topic. Based on the project, the level of the student's development as a major is assessed by the instructor of the course. Students must receive a passing grade on their final project to successfully complete their Senior Assignments. Results are shared with the chair and disseminated to the department at large.

Foreign Languages and Literature

Students shall be responsible for completing an essay 10 to 12 pages in length in the language in which they majored. This paper shall be completed under the supervision of a faculty mentor, and is independent of class context. The completed senior essay will be submitted before the final examination week in the final semester of the senior year. A copy of the essay with the essay professor's critique and assigned grade will be distributed among the faculty in the pertinent language so that the faculty may assess the effectiveness of the program. The senior essay achieves two purposes: (1) ensures that graduates of the department can indeed function in the target language, and (2) provides a means of assessment for the department as well as for the writing skills fostered in the general education program.

FR 400a,b (Senior Essay in French), GER 400a,b (Senior Essay in German) for 2 credit hours each semester or SPAN 400 (Senior Essay in Spanish) for 3 credit hours is required for graduation.


Historical Studies

All History majors are required to complete History 401 (Historical Research). History 401 is designed as a capstone course, a research project culminating in a substantial paper based upon direct investigation of primary as well as secondary sources. Obliging students to apply the rules of historical research to a selected topic demonstrates the degree to which the student has come to understand and appreciate how historians gather and weigh evidence, shape and test hypotheses, and advance conclusions. The course gives students the opportunity to draw together what they have learned in earlier experiences and give finishing touches to writing skills that are emphasized throughout the program.

HIST 401 (Historical Research) for 3 credit hours is required for graduation.

Liberal Studies

Because the Liberal Studies curriculum does not have a common curriculum, the Senior Assignment is individually designed for each student. Instead of one common structured assignment for all Liberal Studies majors, students complete a Senior Assignment in the area of the interdisciplinary focus which they identify at the time they are admitted into the program. Students can change the area with the approval of the program director.

Mass Communications

The Senior Assignment in the Mass Communications program is a combination of a Mass Communications major's internship experience and the creation of a portfolio of many kinds of media products a student has produced while he/she has been a Mass Communications student, plus what s/he produced while on internship. All this is done under the auspices of the required course, MC 481, Internship/Senior Portfolio. The internship is the capstone of the academic experience: the student tests his or her preparation for an entry level job in mass communications in a truly professional setting. After completing the internship, the intern supervisor fills out a written evaluation of the student's performance. This comprises half the student's grade in MC 481. The other half of his/her grade in MC 481 is a senior portfolio, judged by a jury of Mass Communications Department faculty who teach in the student's professional option (Television-Radio, Media Advertising, Corporate Communications or Print/Broadcast Journalism). As the department's portfolio instructions state, "The purpose of the portfolio is to demonstrate to a jury of department faculty in your professional option what you have learned to do well during your time here, and whether or not you are ready to graduate. But portfolios also have another valuable and practical purpose for you: When you graduate, you cannot expect to be hired as a professional communicator (especially in this competitive job market) if you can't prove that you can do the work -- and do it better than all those other colleges' mass communications graduates who are competing for the same jobs. As this department's faculty has stressed throughout your time here, the well-laid-out contents of a Mass Communications Department graduate's published clips or photos, Ad/P.R. portfolio, multimedia CD or resume/audition tape plus writing and other samples could be that extra bit of evidence that will make a potential employer choose you over other applicants." A more complete description of MC 481 and the senior portfolio can be found on the department's web site at

A passing grade in the MC 481 is required for graduation.

Mathematics and Statistics

All seniors are required to complete a Senior Assignment that demonstrates academic breadth attained through general education courses and proficiency in their academic majors. This requirement is satisfied by successful competition of Math 499, the requirements for which are: (a) an in-depth study of a topic in senior level mathematics, statistics, or operations research, (b) documentation of that in-depth study, and (c) an oral presentation of the in-depth study to members of the Mathematics/Statistics faculty. During his/her senior year, students consult with members of the Mathematics/Statistics faculty to prepare a proposal for the Senior Assignment. A list of project directors is available in the departmental office. Projects vary with students' interests and declared options and may take the form of a computer program for the solution of an appropriate problem or an expository paper on the history of a theorem or problem along with an analysis of the ultimately successful proof or resolution.

MATH 499 (Senior Project) for 0 hours credit graded satisfactory grade is required for graduation.


The manner in which a student demonstrates a general education perspective relative to the major remains flexible and is decided upon by the student and his/her assessment committee, taking into consideration the student's interests and background. A student's assessment committee consists of at least two music faculty members who are selected and invited to serve by the student. The committee provides guidance and direction as well as evaluation of the completed project. Assessment normally takes place during the senior year but a student may select a project/topic in advance with approval of his/her assessment committee.

Music majors may demonstrate a general education perspective in a variety of ways, such as (a) music education majors teaching a composer as related to the political/social events, visual arts and literature of his time, (b) performance majors writing program notes relating his/her recital pieces to works of visual art, aspects of philosophy, history, psychology, sociology, computer science, etc., (c) composition majors composing a final project and presenting a lecture on the role of the composer in contemporary society (audience, patronage, impact of computers and electronics, etc.), (d) history and theory majors taking an oral and/or written exam and in which they are asked to relate specific aspects of music to other disciplines.

Specific course, credit hours, and grade for Senior Assignment are unspecified but arise from required work in MUS 357.


In the senior year, each Philosophy major, whether a first or second major, may choose one of two options to fulfill the University graduation requirement of a Senior Assignment. By the end of the fifth week of the last semester of the senior year the student must either present three papers to be assessed by the Department's Senior Assignment Committee (option A) or have taken an oral examination (option B).

A. Present three papers to be assessed by the Department's Senior Assignment Committee: a Senior Reflective Essay (2-5 page) and two philosophy papers written for SIUE philosophy courses. In their reflective essay, students should discuss what they have learned while studying philosophy at SIUE. Some questions that students may want to address include:

  • Where were you (academically or philosophically) prior to attending SIUE?
  • Where has the Philosophy program taken you?
  • What are your plans for the future?
  • How will the education you have received here help you in your future pursuits?

From these papers, faculty will be able to assess the student's progression in the formulation of cogent arguments, clarity of expression, knowledge of philosophical issues, accuracy of interpretation, and creativity or originality of expression.

B. Take an oral examination. The examination will cover several periods or areas of philosophy, various philosophers, and several philosophical issues. The student will be presented with a list of guidelines and sample questions to study in preparation for this examination. The examination will be structured so that the student and examiners may all engage in questions and answers. The purpose of this second option is to allow the student, in addition to meeting the criteria below (in II.A.2) to demonstrate an ability to think "on his or her feet." The examining committee will be made up of three faculty members (all from Philosophy), one of whom is to be a member of the Department of Philosophy's Senior Assignment Committee.


The Physics Senior Assignment will be done over a period of at least two semesters. Students will be required to take between a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 8 credit hours for PHYS 499.

In the first semester of the Senior Assignment, students will enroll for 2 credits of PHYS 499 and will:

  • pick an advisor and define a project
  • choose faculty members willing to serve on their 3-member committee (including the advisor)
  • become functionally competent with the resources available to them (e.g., student should be able to make a simple but representative measurement independently, write an operational, relevant piece of software, or pilot a structured interview with analysis)
  • perform a literature review --- this may be as simple as reading literature already selected by the advisor
  • write a proposal for the project. This proposal must be defended before the committee and approved by the committee

The committee will assign the final grade for the first semester.

In the second semester of the Senior Assignment, students will enroll for 3 credits of PHYS 499. PHYS 499 will be available for 2 or 3 credits in a third semester (if any is desired.) In the final semester during which students are enrolled in this course, they will:

  • collect data/do the project (as appropriate)
  • write formal reports of their projects, a copy of which will be archived
  • present their Senior Assignments in a 30-minute formal talk during which they will be expected to answer probing questions about their work
  • prepare and present poster presentations of their work during the Physics Department Research Week

The faculty, as a group, will assign the final grade for the second (and, if necessary, third) semester. This grade will be determined via a rubric.

Political Science

The Senior Assignment consists of a portfolio which students are asked to present. The portfolio is used to evaluate the degree to which the student has met the six desired characteristics of Political Science graduates. It contains three papers from their courses in Political Science, drawn from at least two of the seven subfields represented in the curriculum. At least one of these papers must be from the most recent term from which a paper is available. The papers may be revised versions of the original submissions; in fact, students are encouraged to make such revisions. Along with the papers, the portfolio includes a commentary in which the students identify the strengths by which they believe the papers demonstrate achievement of the department's objectives. Students are asked to comment on revisions which they have made to originally submitted work, describing the nature of the revisions and explaining why they have made them. In the case of papers which have not been revised, students are asked to explain how they would revise them in the light of reflection and subsequent experience. Students also include a survey regarding the Political Science program in the portfolio.

Students also write a take-home essay during the final semester. The essay is a culminating research project that demonstrates their knowledge of Political Science. This is included in the portfolio which is also the subject of departmental discussions aimed at identifying consistent strengths or weaknesses in student performances, and in the case of deficiencies, devising means of addressing them. The portfolio must be approved by the student's advisor.

The Senior Assignment is not identified as part of a particular course. Similarly, the student portfolio is drawn from ordinary coursework throughout Political Science. By itself, the Senior Assignment carries no additional grade or credit.

Social Work

The Department of Social Work's Senior Assignment is completed by all majors while they are enrolled in SOCW 483 (second semester of field placement), which is usually the last semester of their senior year. The actual assignment consists of the following parts:

a) the grade the students receives for their practica (field placement). The grade for this portion of the senior assignment is based on the 11 program goals of the department which demonstrates the student's ability to integrate knowledge and skills learned in the program in an actual social work practice in an agency setting. Students are graded by their field placement supervisors for this portion of the Senior Assignment. These goals are:

1. The student applied critical thinking skills through use of bio-psycho-social theory and research for practice across all system levels (micro, mezzo and macro).

2. The student demonstrated proficiency in oral and written communication skills as well as the ability to effectively communicate differentially with a variety of client populations, colleagues, and members of the community.

3. The student demonstrated professional identity characterized by the professional use of self and an awareness of social work values and ethics, and the ability to appropriately apply these values and ethics in social work practice at all systems levels.

4. The student demonstrated an understanding of the various forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination against marginalized groups, including racial and ethic minorities, women, children, gays and lesbians, persons with disabilities and the elderly, along with the ability to apply various strategies of change that may advance social and economic justice for such groups.

5. The student demonstrated an awareness of the history and evolution of the social work profession, the current services that are provided under the auspices of the profession, and the various roles within which social workers operate.

6. The student demonstrated an understanding of the bio-psycho-social factors that affect and theories that explain individual, group, and community development and functioning, and the ability to assess the relative importance of these various influences on client systems.

7. The student demonstrated the application of the knowledge and skills of generalist social work practice using the problem-solving model.

8. The student demonstrated the ability to evaluate research studies and apply the findings of such research to practice, as well as the ability to evaluate his or her own practice interventions.

9. The student demonstrated the ability to use supervision appropriately in generalist practice and function effectively within the structure of a social welfare organization and service delivery.

10. Students will understand major social work policies specifically related to the practicum agency and populations-at-risk.

11. The student demonstrated the ability to analyze the impact of social policies on client systems, practitioners, and agencies, and the application of change strategies within the social policy arena.

b) the second portion of the senior assignment is the assessment of a case scenario. Students are provided in-depth information about a family and are required to answer nine questions using specific skills, knowledge, models and theories taught in the program. Department of Social Work faculty evaluates each answer of the student's assessment by using a blind review process. Grading is based on the A, B, C, D and F grading scale used by the department.

c) finally, each student's grade from their research project completed in their Research Methods course (which is taken in conjunction with their first semester of field placement) is added to their grade from their practicum, and their grade from their case assessment.

This grade is 30% of the student's grade for SOCW 483.

The Senior Assignment data is part of an ongoing program evaluation to improve the quality of the Social Work program, and as an evaluation tool for the Council on Social Work Education, the accreditating body of the program.

(Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice Studies)

The Sociology Department requires its undergraduate majors to complete a sequence of courses as they move throughout the curriculum. The sequence is based on the idea that knowledge and skills developed in one course should translate to another, and ultimately provide students with the ability to integrate theoretical, methodological, and substantive elements of sociology. Then students bring these ideas to life in one of the two capstone courses in the program.

Sociology majors can choose one of two tracks that yield very different senior assignment experiences for students. Employment Relations students write a final paper that provides sociological analyses of their internship experiences. For General Sociology majors, the assignment requires students to design an empirical research question, generate an appropriate literature review and theoretical framework, implement a research protocol suitable for that question, analyze data, and report findings in writing and orally.

Regardless of the path students choose, the sequencing remains the same. Sociology 301, Survey of Theory, is the first course students must take in this sequence. Students must earn a C or better in this course before enrolling in the required Sociology 302 (Methods) and 303 (Statistics) courses. Students must also earn a C or better in Sociology 302 and Sociology 303 before enrolling in Sociology 495 - Senior Assignment or Sociology 433 - Internship in Employment Relations. (Please note: Although students may enroll in 302 and 303 concurrently, the department encourages students to complete 302 before enrolling in 303.)

The Sociology program requires that students write a combined literature review and theoretical interpretation of a sociological topic, problem, or issue in 301 that can be used as a foundation for continuing work in the methods, statistics, and Sociology 495 or 433 courses. Thus, it is very important that students pick a topic that interests them and identify a sociological research question that is reasonable for an undergraduate to complete. All Sociology students who enroll in 302 will be asked by their professor to submit their major paper from 301. Students will revise the paper based on the recommendations of their professors in both 301 and 302. Then students will build the 302 research proposal around this or a closely related topic. Each class will require that you revise your work from the previous course, and each paper provides a critical stepping-stone toward the eventual senior assignment paper. From General Sociology students' previous experiences, the more seriously a student takes the theory paper and proposal, the easier the path will be in the Senior Assignment. Even with Employment Relations majors, the proposal is important because it demonstrates overall mastery of the subject matter for this course, and it will assist students in thinking more critically and empirically about the internship. Moreover, for Employment Relations students, the experience in 433 will be strengthened by learning how to write a comprehensive and theoretically informed research proposal that can be integrated into the internship experience and paper. In fact, thinking about the internship experience as a setting for participant observation, organizational ethnography, or case study will greatly enhance the quality of the final product. Given this sequence and set of assignments, the Sociology faculty expects students to enter 433 or 495 with a well-conceived and appropriate proposal from 302 that, ideally, will be executed in these final courses.

The Department's web site has additional information at

Speech Communication

Seniors in Speech Communication are required to register for SPC 409 (Senior Project in Speech Communication) or SPC 415 (Public Relations Campaigns: Programming and Implementation). SPC 409 is a culmination of the entire undergraduate experience for students in the corporate, organizational, and interpersonal tracks. SPC 415 fulfills the Senior Project requirement for the public relations track.

Students in the corporate and organizational track demonstrate knowledge that they have acquired through SPC 329, SPC 330, SPC 203, SPC 403, which are required classes for the track. Students are assigned service learning projects. To simulate what happens in the world of work, they are given a client and a group manager and are expected to perform in a professional manner. They diagnose the issues that the organization faces and provide recommendations for improvement.

Students in the interpersonal track demonstrate knowledge that they have acquired through SPC 210, SPC 223, SPC 329, SPC 330, SPC 433, SPC 434, SPC 464, which are required classes for that track. Students are assigned service-learning projects that utilize the skills acquired in the track. Students report on their experiences, practical applications, and lessons learned from their experiences.

Students in the public relations track take SPC 415 concurrently with SPC 414. The course integrates all the knowledge that students have acquired through SPC 213, SPC 313, SPC 315, 329, SPC 330, SPC 413, SPC 414, which are required sequenced classes for the track. Students demonstrate knowledge that they have acquired by working in public relations teams or Divisions to develop a comprehensive plan and implement and monitor a special event public relations campaign for a community client.

Theater and Dance

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