my capstone experience

Ryan Martin '10, a Child Development major from Chester, N.H., discusses his Capstone, which focused on his internship at the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), and his subsequent research on the use of corporal punishment and the developmental outcomes of children. The Capstone project, which involves extensive research and presentation, is the culmination of each student's academic experience.

While at Colby-Sawyer, Martin was captain of the men's varsity swimming and diving team and also served as president of Psi Chi. After graduating, Martin is pursuing graduate studies in psychology at Northeastern University.

Describe the subject of your Capstone project and why you chose to focus on this subject.

As a child development major, my Capstone is comprised of two parts: the first focuses on my internship experience, and the second outlines my research topic which is related to the internship. I completed my internship at the New Hampshire Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), working directly under a Child Protective Services Worker investigating reports of child abuse throughout the region. Many of the reports which came in dealt with physical abuse, so I decided to conduct the research component of my Capstone on the use of corporal punishment and developmental outcomes of children. I compiled a literature review of current research findings and presented this information on Scholar's Day.

What did you learn through your Capstone project, and in what ways was it a culmination of your learning experience at Colby-Sawyer?

During my internship with DCYF and while conducting my research on corporal punishment, I accomplished many of the college's learning outcomes. While investigating child abuse, it was very important that I act ethically and professionally, as the confidentiality of our clients was very important. This was also a chance for me to apply my knowledge of child development to a practical setting. To conduct quality research, I had to think critically in response to ongoing debates among researchers I encountered studying the effects of corporal punishment.

What was most fun and rewarding for you in the process of creating your Capstone?

The most rewarding part was knowing that my contributions at my internship site were making a difference not only to children and families in need, but also to the DCYF office, which at the time was short-staffed by almost 50 percent. I most enjoyed writing a memoir of my internship experience as my Wesson Honors component of my Capstone.

What did you find most challenging and difficult about the project?

The most challenging part of the project itself was deciding which aspects of my internship experience were most important to convey to the college community, and also examining current research on corporal punishment objectively.

What do you hope will be the lasting value of your Capstone project, both for you and others?

I hope that my Capstone raises awareness that not only are corporal punishment and child abuse real and prevalent issues, but also I want the community to be aware of the many challenges that families of lower socio-economic status face from day to day. Hopefully the memoir of my internship will allow underclassmen to get a sense of how important and valuable an internship can be for their educational and professional careers.

How would you summarize your Colby-Sawyer experience?

Overall, I would summarize my Colby-Sawyer experience as very positive. With the small student body, I had the chance to know and interact with my professors much more than I would have at a large university, which has been very helpful. Also, I have found that my Colby-Sawyer education has prepared me for work in the real world; this has been evident in both my practicum and internship experiences.