The major at Millikin University offers students an intensive and collaborative learning experience customized to fit their needs in preparation for professional success. Students begin with an introductory course in their major, as early as freshman year, in which they learn about the curriculum and opportunities for study in the discipline. During their sophomore year, students enter into a more concentrated inquiry of their major through critical analysis of primary texts and theories of the field. As the major progresses, faculty and students engage in collaborative efforts for academic inquiry and research, applying theory to practice in the field.
The Senior Capstone is the zenith of intellectual inquiry and performance of the student major. To best suit student needs and demands of the major, approaches to implementing the capstone vary among four different approaches: apprenticeship learning, portfolios, problem solving, and academic inquiry seminars.
The Apprenticeship Learning approach is characterized by student learning through an apprenticeship with a faculty member. Music students work closely with a faculty mentor on their artistic development, culminating in a senior performance. Chemistry, Biology, and Physics students conduct lab-based undergraduate research under the guidance or partnership with science faculty. Education majors have a semester of student teaching under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Apprenticeship learning emphasizes one-on-one collaborative learning opportunities over an extended period of time.
Academic Portfolios capitalize on the student production and reflection of academic products to share with peers, faculty, and potential employers. Portfolios provide students with the opportunity to create and critique their intellectual inquiry and growth over time. Various discipline including Communication, Nursing, Art, Writing and Education currently use this approach as an essential part of their Senior Capstone.
Problem Solving Projects challenge students to apply their knowledge and skills to produce possible solutions to a problem. Simulated problem solving cases keep the process in the classroom, but client-based problem solving cases move these projects into the realm of experiential learning. Nursing students use many simulations and also examine problems that arise in their clinical experiences. Business students collaborate with on and off campus clients. Students in social sciences become engaged in extensive community service. The Problem Solving approach emphasizes leadership and team interaction.
Seminars with Academic Research require students to fully investigate an issue in their discipline and to reach a new understanding or generate new knowledge regarding the issue. A variety of majors use this approach, as students are using their acquired skills and knowledge to convey new understandings to others. The seminar approach is characterized by an examination of theory and practice to produce near-professional texts.