Insight on AP Capstone

Naomi Boodhoo, Staff Writer

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AP Seminar and AP Research are some of the newer Advanced Placement (AP) courses that have appeared on campus, and because of their debut being so recent, some Sharks still don’t exactly understand the program.

Both courses are part of the AP Capstone program, and, like all other AP classes, are created by College Board. Both AP Seminar and AP Research are electives – they do not replace the language arts requirement for that year. Instead of a heavy content class, both classes test acquired skills – Seminar in crafting an effective argument and presenting it, and Research in actually conducting research reminiscent of a college dissertation.

AP Seminar is the first course, which one can only take in their junior year as an elective. Currently, it is being taught for the second year by Ms. Ransom. In AP Seminar, students are encouraged to examine social and political issues from multiple perspectives to craft a scholarly and valid argument. A litany of credible documents are analyzed to entrench students’ familiarity with an academic line of reasoning. Also, a trusting group atmosphere is established to introduce students’ to opposing viewpoints through discussions, projects, and research. High-level, scholarly research is conducted, identical to college. It is an AP class, though it has a rather unconventional AP exam. This includes a short paper and team multimedia presentation, long paper and individual multimedia presentation (both done during the school year), and an end-of-course exam with a short question about an article’s line of reasoning and an argumentative essay. Ms. Ransom understands the challenge of this course and explains traits that are vital to success, including a dedicated work ethic since the class is very self-driven. “There are deadlines, but when you have to write a paper by yourself, you have to be very focused and self-motivated. You have to be very open-minded and open to other people’s ideas; this class is made of a team setting.”

AP Research follows Seminar, which students take as seniors with Mrs. Niles, who is teaching it for the first time this year. Students create their own research question to actually conduct studies on to add to the research community’s understanding, while additionally examining preexisting research on the selected topic. A critical eye is needed to determine which sources are credible and useful. Mrs. Niles compares it to the college dissertation after an undergraduate degree is attained – students conduct a research study, but now, they do it in high school as seniors. The AP exam consists of a 4,000-5,000 word long academic paper with an oral defense based on their research. That project is worked on all year – definitely a challenge, but also a great accomplishment for all of the students. Mrs. Niles encourages those who are interested to take it when they are eligible. Mrs. Niles comments that it is a lot of work, “but, I hope they see it is something worthwhile, and exciting, … [and it may seem daunting] but Ms. Ransom and I are here to guide our students on their way.”

After passing both AP tests, an AP Seminar and Research Certificate is awarded. If a student passes both AP Capstone courses, along with four other AP exams, they will receive the AP Capstone Diploma.

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