Measuring the Mind: Capstone in Psychometrics

Max Krasnow Photograph “Any time we are tested in school, for professional licensure, or to find out our ‘personality’ in some viral social media quiz, we are the subject of psychometric study. Have you ever felt that a test was unfair, misguided or just plain dumb? Maybe more times than you can count? In this course, we dive into the theory and science of measuring the mind to equip students with the tools to use their education towards pragmatic solutions to the problem of measuring the mind.” 

— Max Krasnow, Faculty

About the Capstone

Psychometrics is just a fancy word for the assessment and measurement of psychological characteristics (skills, abilities, personality traits, knowledge, opinions, preferences, and attitudes). Political pollsters, survey writers, market researchers, teachers and trainers, and many others do this all the time without knowing they are doing psychometrics or that there is a whole field of theory and evidence-based insights into ways of doing it better.

In the precapstone course, PSYC E-597c, we survey the wide field of psychometrics, including principles of measurement, scale development, reliability and validity, and item response theory.

The capstone course, PSYC E-599c, builds upon the foundation established in PSYC E-597c 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. 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 psychometrics, 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 the review of existing evidence and theory, a problem is identified in the method used to select high school students for advanced coursework in the local school system. A remediation of the problem is designed and a plan to communicate the solution to the local district / department of education (or a training workshop on adopting and using the solution) is proposed.
  • Political opinion polling has had a recent history of poorly predicting election outcomes in a particular locality. Based on a synthesis of psychometric theory, an alternative polling method is proposed and a plan for assessing the impact of this alternative is made.

Capstone Faculty

Max Krasnow, PhD, Lecturer in Extension, Harvard University

Course Links

Precapstone Course: PSYC E-597C Measuring the Mind: Precapstone in Psychometrics
Capstone Course: PSYC E-599C Measuring the Mind: Capstone in Psychometrics

Stay Tuned

Since Spring 2022 is the first time that we are offering this capstone, we do not have more information, such as examples of past projects. Content will be added on an ongoing basis.