Writing for Social Change in the Capstone
Walden University emphasizes social change in Walden graduate student capstone projects. As part of Walden’s mission, students’ research has an effect not only on research and practice but also on the positive social change implications that extend beyond the specific sample and participants in the study.
Walden capstones include discussion of positive social change implications in three general areas of the study:
- At the end of the abstract.
- In the introduction to the study, as part of the social change implications discussion in the Social Change or Significance sections.
- In the final chapter/section, as part of the social change or implications discussion in light of the results, coupled with implications for research, practice, and call for further research.
See program checklists and guidebooks (program specific checklists, found at the Office of Research and Doctoral Services [ORDS]'s Office of Student Research Administration) as well as ORDS’s Research and Planning Resources for specific expectations for presentation of discussion:
Developing a social change implications framing. Remember, these are potential social change implications, so using language like may, might, could is appropriate and preferred.
- Begin with your sample. Explain how the results of the capstone will help these specific individuals first. Work with your chair and use the ORDS resources described here for help with this. Beginning with the delimitations and pinpointing the specific results for this sample group is a great way to start.
- What direct benefit will they receive from learning your results?
- How might they use it to implement direct action to improve the environment (address the problem)?
- What outcomes might be associated with this if that were to happen?
- Consider whether the same is true for the larger population. Now that you have described how the actual participants might use this information, think about whether the larger population (from which you drew your sample) may see the same results.
- How might the larger population benefit?
- What are the potential outcomes for the larger population if they took action based on your results?
- Consider a larger benefit to society (the goal of this discussion and Walden’s social change emphasis).
- If the larger population implements changes, what broader changes might the community, city, state, profession benefit from.
- These are generally larger scale ideas that have broader implications like
- the potential creation of jobs for a community;
- thriving businesses in a community that may give back to their local economy and social efforts;
- teachers’ ability to educate a specific student group that is underserved and these students’ ability to be successful;
- policy changes in a prison that may be adopted by other prisons, potentially reducing safety concerns;
- potentially reducing stress among emergency room physicians, which may allow them to better serve patients; and
- increased response time for EMTS that provides more support for the community and potentially saves lives.
- Be sure that you tie the potential social change implications to the problem statement. The goal of the capstone is to address the problem. As such, students should ensure that potential positive social change implications are related specifically back to the problem.
- Revisit the delimitations (scope). Students delimit the study across specific boundaries to articulate what the study includes and does not include. The social change implications should be in alignment with the delimitations.
Though the bulk of the abstract is a summary or description of the research or project, the last two or three sentences (roughly) should mention who will benefit from these results (or information/conclusion) and how.
Example: …The consensus among participants was that supportive leadership is a significant factor in improving employee performance, maintaining constructive manager-employee relationships, and increasing job satisfaction. The social change implications may include job sustainability, job creation, and community economic enhancement. When job satisfaction allows individuals and organizations the opportunity to thrive, local unemployment, spending, and use of community resources may also increase, stimulating local economies.
Introduction Social Change or Significance Section
In this beginning portion of the study, students should describe “potential implications for positive social change that are consistent with and bounded by the scope of the study” (ORDS, n.d.). This means that students should begin describing the potential outcomes of the research that may benefit society as early as in the beginning stages of capstone development.
Example: The results of this study could also contribute to social change as reducing turnover in this industry (through increased support and job satisfaction) may directly and indirectly affect the lives of citizens in this local community. Successful implementation of strategies and support may improve the work environment for employees by potentially increasing morale (Parvadavardini et al., 2016; Schaap, 2012), as well as helping the company to thrive, thus providing the opportunity for the company to contribute to the local economy. Revenue from thriving businesses may benefit the overall community and job market.
Final Discussion of the Capstone Implications Section
ORDS (n.d.) directs students to “describe the potential impact for positive social change at the appropriate level (individual, family, organizational, and societal/policy)… and to ensure implications for social change do not exceed the study boundaries.” This means that writers need to again touch on who this information will help and how, as well as ensuring that writers keep this within the delimitations (scope) of the initial study—being careful to align with the generalizability or transferability discussed in earlier sections.
Example: Positive social change may be accomplished through leaders applying strategies to improve support and job satisfaction. Support may increase positive social change by applying proven strategies to succeed in developing and maintaining positive employee morale and improving the performance of all individuals involved. Employees who are efficient and content generate company revenue, and increased revenue enables increased charitable spending. With organizational success, local economies and communities have the potential to thrive. More local spending and use of community resources means potentially stimulating the local economy, with the additional possibility of job creation.