May 5, 2016

What is a capstone project?

A noun meaning:

1. a finishing stone of a structure.
2. the crowning achievement, point, element, or event.


The capstone project is the finishing achievement of the Translational Research program.  It is the mechanism through which students are able to explore and execute their own learning objectives and goals.  Although the experiential learning activity is packaged in the context of a ‘course’ it is really a student directed mentored experience that is intended to show the challenges and opportunities of translational research through translational thinking.


There is a range of possible experiential learning activities that may be considered to fulfill the Capstone.  The criteria are intentionally broad and flexible, however, a capstone project must (i) attempt to improve health by moving existing knowledge forward to address a need, and (ii) provide opportunities for students to demonstrate program learning outcomes based on research and interaction and not on anecdotal or abstract knowledge.

Capstone projects are intended to be student-driven to allow engagement and deep learning from experience, reflection, abstraction and testing of concepts.  Projects are supported and facilitated by TRP faculty, Course Director(s) and a Project Oversight Committee to ensure intellectual rigor and successful learning outcomes.


The TRP capstone project process is comprised of eight components:

  1. Get started: establish your capstone team.
  2. Identify a need: this must be based on direct engagement with people and patients using appropriate methodologies.
  3. Proposal: state the need as a problem and articulate a plan to address the problem.
  4. Proposal Assessment: a formal review of the proposed plan and deliverables
  5. Project and reflection: execute plan and reflect on process
  6. Review: Group Critiques, Milestone reports and Committee meetings
  7. Presentation: Final project team presentation and individual oral assessment
  8. Final Reflection: Written individual assessment of learning and knowledge production

Capstone Project Samples

Project Mitoc: A Persuasive mHealth Application for Improving Patient Psychosocial Supports for Opioid Prescription Adherence and Tapering

Opioid overdoses account for 17.1% of hospitalizations in Ontario and opioid-related deaths have been steadily climbing over the past 25 years.  This correlates with increased high-dose prescribing and increased opioid consumption. Assisting opioid prescribed patients in dose reduction can lead to a lower opioid-related disease burden. To help reduce the burden of opioid-related incidence of opioid-related deaths and hospitalizations. This project aims to use mobile health (mHealth) technologies to deliver behavioural interventions to opioid prescribed patients. These mHealth technologies deliver psychosocial interventions through mobile applications which evoke behavioural change regarding opioid use.

Perineal Model with 4th Degree Tear for Obstetrics Resident Training 

Perineal laceration repair is a common procedure performed by obstetricians, because up to 65% of vaginal deliveries are complicated by some form of laceration or episiotomy, however, 3rd and 4th-degree lacerations are rare events and often residents do not get adequate training for these situations. Furthermore, 4tth degree lacerations are serious events which can lead to long-term complications. Residents who have undergone simulation-based training are known to have an improved performance.  Since there is no existing model for 4th-degree perineal tears, this project plans on using 3D printing to generate models for which residents can practice on, which would be more accessible and biologically safer than using cadavers. This research hopes to initiate a novel way to educate obstetric residents on rare events, which can be applied to a wide range of medical education programs, and comparisons between training on 3D printed models versus low fidelity models will be compared with actual medical residents in the coming year.

Assessing the implementation of TickiT® during group clinic sessions with adolescent-aged patients with brachial plexus injury from childbirth.

TickiT® is a simplistic survey tool used throughout SickKids to collect patient- and staff-reported data anonymously on an iPad. Although success has been achieved in its use, an evaluation of the implementation of this tool is needed to identify challenges with its use. Eventually this research will allow for a deeper understanding of issues that arise with e-health tool usage and help to provide a framework for the optimal use of TickiT® which could eventually be applied to other medical practices.

Quality Improvement of Lab Management at the Latner Thoracic Research Program: Scientific direction of research streams

This project aims to first identify and assess issues voiced out in large labs regarding project completion and workflows, as well as to identify and assess main, current methods being used to manage projects and workflow in different industries as well as the issues voiced out in labs. In its entirety, the project aims to improve the managements (ex. through tools, logistic-improvement, policies, guidelines, etc) of the research laboratory to enhance the research output and educational value of the laboratory.

Determining the Needs of Epilepsy Patients and Healthcare Providers in Ketogenic Dietary Therapy.

Following recent technological advancements, the Canadian healthcare system has been supporting the shift towards decentralized, community and home-based delivery of healthcare. This shift is mainly motivated by increasing demands and pressures on the existing system that is thought by many to be unsustainable. Optimization of Ketogenic diet delivery outside of the hospital setting would be a move in the right direction by ultimately making the dietary therapy more affordable, accessible and more efficient.

Timely Project – Providing UofT students with timely access to professional mental health support

Mental health conditions are rising each year in post-secondary students in Canada and Ontario. Specifically, at The University of Toronto, there are 10-15% more students each year requiring assistance with emotional experiences related to stress and anxiety at their Health; Wellness centre, yet the wait times for access to mental health resources are often lengthy. This project hopes to provide the Health and Wellness services at U of T with a deeper understanding of patient issues which will eventually lead to a reduced burden on the health care system as well as improving access to students who have mental health needs, and who knows this could even be a friend of yours.