Dr. Ramona Ross, teaching faculty member and assistant undergraduate director in Psychology at the School of Arts & Sciences-Newark (SASN), works hard to ensure that students in her large enrollment courses have meaningful and engaged learning experiences. She regularly offers courses on Community Psychology, Stereotyping, Prejudice, & Discrimination, Psychopathology of Childhood, Psychology of Adolescence, and Abnormal Psychology, most of which address the multicultural requirement of the psychology major as well as focus on more applied clinical psychology. In addition to her instructional work, Dr. Ross also co-founded and directs the Psychology Professionals of Tomorrow, a mentorship program for students from underrepresented backgrounds who aspire to earn post-graduate clinical psychology degrees.
How does your research, scholarship or professional experience inspire your teaching?
My professional experiences stem from my career as a non-traditional school psychologist. In this role, I had the opportunity to work with many diverse populations around issues of trauma and school-based mental health services. One of the biggest takeaways from my professional experiences was the importance of taking an intentionally inclusive approach to the students I work with. In my teaching, this translates to inclusive and trauma-informed teaching practices, with an emphasis on the student as an individual learner. I also emphasize accessibility and applicability in the material I teach, as it is crucial for students to see how our work in psychology translates to the real world.
What is one innovative or unique teaching practice you’d like to share?
I am not sure I would consider this innovative or unique, but an emphasis on student collaboration and classroom conversation is crucial to the learning process. I also know that facilitating these types of classroom activities can be difficult in larger classes and so are often not utilized. As such, I think the emphasis I place on peer to peer learning and critical applied thinking does make my teaching practices unique. This is a priority for me and is possible through careful planning and the creation of hands-on materials to be explored in lecture. Even in a lecture of 100 students, you will find us engaging in small group conversations, with me getting to know my students on a smaller scale.
How does this work advance the university's mission as a publicly-engaged anchor institution?
Psychology Professionals of Tomorrow is a mentorship program co-founded by Dean Taja-Nia Henderson and me, aimed at providing standardized mentorship for students who want to pursue applied clinical degrees in psychology. Currently, there is a huge lack of diversity in the field of psychology and many patients are unable to find mental health practitioners whom they identify with. As an anchor institution, we are home to one of the most diverse student bodies on the east coast and in the nation. Many of our students want to pursue clinical degrees, but need support and mentorship to get there. Our work supports these students, and our program has the ultimate long-term goal of serving our community by producing a more diverse pool of mental health practitioners.
This profile originally appeared on the Rutgers University-Newark P3 Collaboratory website.