Motivation and emotions

Sandra Parsons uses a slightly unusual approach to help her students learn the subject matter of her Psychology of Emotion & Motivation class (PSYC 353) — painting.

The class examines motivation and emotion as causes of human behavior. Students study a variety of topics such as the biological underpinnings of the major motivation system (like hunger and sleep) and how emotions and the expression of emotions differ across people and cultures.

Parsons, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Psychology, said research suggests that when you learn things in different ways, it increases the ability to synthesize that information.

“I came across literature that said if you create art in the context of other scholastic endeavors, it does help with the coalescence of this information,” Parsons said. “[Painting] lends itself perfectly to this.”

The students will have their artwork from the class displayed in the Provost’s Gallery from May 8 until Sept. 8. Parsons’ project is funded by a Brown Teaching Grant.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.