Doctor Marguerite Capone is introducing a new idea to her PSY 235 course on Theories of Personalities, incorporating a special project to go along with her typical psychology exams. This project is for her students to apply the personality perspectives they learn in class to that of Alexander Hamilton – the historical figure portrayed in the widely popular Broadway Show “Hamilton” – and present their findings through rap renditions.
As part of this project, Capone’s students will study Hamilton’s biography and in groups of three, will use their assigned personality perspective to analyze Hamilton. In November, the students will present their analysis to the class, not through a PowerPoint or essay, but through what Capone calls the “rhythm of the millennial”: rap music.
Capone has taught at the University of Rhode Island for multiple years and in other institutions before that, but this is the first time she has ever introduced a project like this. The main learning outcomes from this course are still to “introduce the student to the basic theories and research in the field of Personality Psychology,” but to do so in a way that keeps the students interested and allows them to think creativity.
“I think learning should be integrated, not separated,” Capone explained. “Primarily I did this because I wanted to choose something [the students] would like.” By doing this new project, Capone hopes that her students will become more involved in what they are learning. She mentioned that her students have been reaching out to her about the new project, and said they are looking forward to it.
“I’m excited for this course,” Monica Cabral, who has taken a course with Dr. Capone before, said. “This course may seem like a lot of work to some people, but the way Dr. Capone structures the class makes everything go smoothly.”
Cabral is very excited for the rap project on Hamilton and said that it will make the project more interesting and enjoyable.
Though there are many other historical figures and resources Capone could have used for this project, once she heard the soundtrack to “Hamilton,” she was immediately hooked.
The students are required to listen to the soundtrack and read the Wikipedia biography of Hamilton in the class. She explained that reading such literature as Shakespeare’s Hamlet or other literature would lose some of the students, especially with its language. Almost all students have a basic understanding of early American history, however, which Hamilton greatly contributed to.
The project is not only something new and interesting for the students to partake in, but it also makes it harder for students to plagiarize. There are thousands of essays online for students to copy and use, but not as many projects of this style available for reference. Additionally, Capone believes that students have enough work to do in the semester without having to write yet another paper.
“I just think that it’s tedious,” she said. “It won’t be easy, but it won’t be yet another mindless paper either.”
PSY 235 is an introductory level psychology course and like many other psychology courses in the department, it requires the completion of PSY 113 to enroll into the class.