Capstone: Applied Educational Psychology

Max Krasnow Photograph “Educational psychology is a nexus field, with the goals of leveraging the basic science facts discovered across the subfields of psychology, the neurosciences, sociology and related fields to craft curricula, policies and programs that help people learn, help people teach, and enable these foundational societal functions to improve over time. Whether as students, teachers, administrators, advocates, coaches, or counsellors, educational psychology touches us all. Yet, what works in the lab can fail in the classroom. Applying this science to the real world comes with its own challenges, obstacles, and opportunities. In this capstone sequence we study both of these topics to equip students to succeed in designing pragmatic solutions to the problems of learning and teaching.” 

— Max Krasnow, Faculty

About the Capstone

Educational psychology is the study of how students learn, what challenges interfere with their learning, and how to address these challenges.

In the precapstone course, PSYC E-597d, we develop a firm foundation in the application of psychological insights to all things education, including teaching methods, learning formats, assessment, discipline, and socioemotional growth.

The capstone course PSYC E-599dbuilds upon the foundation established in PSYC E-597d by creating a capstone project that bridges research and practice. The project includes two components: the project prototype and the academic report.

The prototype is the specific product designed to address the real-world problem identified in the fall term proposal. Prototypes can take one of several forms. First, they can apply research to design a project to solve or address a real-world problem in the education field. Second, they may communicate scholarship to specific audiences who would benefit from knowing the information (for example, an online training, publishable article, informational website, or printable materials).

Capstone projects build on specific interests of each student and are developed in consultation with the instructor. These specialized projects allow students to seek a practical application of existing research on educational psychology, while developing their skills designing research-based practice and engaging stakeholders, whether in the role of researcher, designer, consultant, or advocate.

The capstone semester culminates with a formal oral presentation.


Examples of possible capstone projects:

  • Based on a review of existing evidence and theory, the ALM student proposes a mechanism underlying an achievement gap between students from different backgrounds. Educational materials or a teaching intervention is designed around that mechanism to close the gap, and a plan for communicating this solution is proposed.
  • Based on a review of existing evidence, the ALM student identifies a societal problem (e.g., insufficient saving for retirement, online habits that expose people to identity theft, underutilization of social safety net programs, etc.). The student crafts a solution to educate the target population through an intervention (informational website, smartphone app, workshop, etc.) based on theory in educational psychology.

Capstone Faculty

Max Krasnow, PhD, Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University

Course Links

Precapstone Course: PSYC E-597D Precapstone: Applied Educational Psychology
Capstone: PSYC E-599D Capstone: Applied Educational Psychology