Stories of Teaching and Learning

January 27, 2006


Psychology 340: Women’s Mental Health

Alexis Bennett Rosenfeld and Kelly Strunk-Mest


Objectives of the course:


·          Provide an overview of current research and theory related to women’s mental health, utilizing a developmental framework


·          Discuss psychological phenomena and disorders that are particularly salient to and prevalent among women, including:

o         depression

o         eating disorders

o         dissociative disorders

o         somatoform disorders

o         work-family conflict for working mothers

o         the role of sociocultural influences on women’s mental health

o         gender differences in interpretation of and responses to stress

o         the impact of intimate and domestic violence on women


·          Review theories regarding why these phenomena/disorders affect women disproportionately over men, and how they may impact women’s psychological and physical well-being


Format of course:


·          Combination of lecture and student-led discussion


·          Praxis I – students assigned to one of five pre-approved sites:

o         Ardmore Senior Center (Ardmore, PA)

o         Belmont Charter School (Philadelphia, PA)

o         Bryn Mawr College Staff Association (BMC)

o         Forteniter’s Club (Norristown, PA)

o         Why Not Prosper? (East Norriton, PA)


Goal of Praxis:


·          Create a psychoeducational workshop for clientele at Praxis site based on:

o         mental health needs assessment

o         theoretical material covered in course lectures and readings

o         additional research


Student comments:


On course content:


“I really felt engaged and interested throughout the semester.  A really great chance to learn about ourselves as women.”


“The content of this class was extremely interesting and consciousness-raising, too – and, as we shared experiences as women (about our developmental challenges), it became clear that we have much to give each other.”


“I am unhappy with the way class material was presented.  I assumed that psychological studies would be the basis of the course but we spent almost the entire time discussing our personal experience.  While I think personal experience is very interesting to listen to, I didn’t think our professor did a good job of giving the psychological component of whatever topic we were discussing.  I kept thinking I was in a sociology course rather than a psychology course.”


On course discussions:


“Excellent.  Professor Rosenfeld was both very open and academic in her approach to discussions.”


“Praxis group discussions are not always informative/productive.  Did not feel that I learned much from these discussions.”


On Praxis component:


“Praxis was very valuable.  Enjoyed it immensely and was able to take info learned in class and apply it in a real-life situation.”


“Sometimes I felt the Praxis project was disconnected from the course.  I also could have used a little more guidance with it.”


“Praxis project was somewhat difficult because the guidelines were so flexible.  Would have appreciated more defined roles in groups so that work could be more fairly distributed.”



Field Placement Supervisor comments on students’ Final Workshop Presentations:


“The presentation was comprehensive and focused on the ever-changing mental health needs in women as they age...  The Praxis group’s presentation gave the participants an opportunity to reflect and openly discuss/express their emotional feeling.  Participants remarked that even if they weren’t able to articulate what they felt, the seminar gave them much to reflect on...  They enjoyed how it was presented to them and that the content was appropriate.”


“It was clever, easy to comprehend.  It was formed with some discussion between myself and the students.  Most of it resulted from their understanding of the members’ needs.  Members told me they enjoyed it a lot.  Liked the visual aids.”