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Rutgers lecturer holds 7th highest score on RateMyProfessor

Out of millions of professors at 7,500 institutions, John Kerrigan, a part time lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Rutgers had the 7th highest student ratings on Rate My Professor. – Photo by Twitter

Every year, Rate My Professors compiles a list of the highest ranked university professors in the United States, <g><g>Canada</g></g> and the United Kingdom. This year, out of 1.7 million professors, a part time lecturer in the Rutgers Department of Mathematics placed seventh.

John Kerrigan completed his undergraduate studies at Rutgers and currently teaches a variety of courses ranging from "Calculus 152" to "Mathematics of Money." Of the 91 students that reviewed his page on Rate My Professors, 100 percent said they would take his course again.

“It's a very nice honor to be recognized for something I love doing,” Kerrigan said. “The real gratification for me comes from being able to make the lightbulb go off for students in math class, providing a student with graduate school advice and hearing about the many exciting opportunities students pursue after my class. It's such an exciting time to be at Rutgers University and I'm happy to be a part of it.”

Many of the students who left reviews on Rate My Professors noted they went into Kerrigan’s course having already failed or withdrawn from other sections. Students described him as “engaging,” “organized” and “inspirational,” as well as “the best professor at Rutgers.”

“We need more young teachers who are vibrant and that we, as students, can understand,” one reviewer wrote. “I think (Kerrigan) has more patience and enthusiasm than a lot of the older teachers who know the information so well but do not know how to teach it effectively.”

Rate My Professors is a growing resource for students that takes into account input from over 19 million individuals. The annual rankings are based on a five-point scale that is weighted to place more emphasis on the most recent academic year. Only professors with 30 or more ratings on their page are considered for the final list, according to the site.

In 2015, Kerrigan placed 15th on the overall list. His jump to number 7 this year marks the first time in history that a Rutgers professor has made it to the top 10, according to compiled data.

Kerrigan said his teaching style is based largely <g>on</g> the interactions between students. To maximize understanding, he encourages students to discuss concepts with one another, work with flowcharts and create summaries.

He also incorporates a number of game-based learning activities and assessments into his curriculum.

“I am a big advocate of active learning,” he said. “I do not believe any student should be passive during a lecture, but rather students should have many opportunities to engage with other students, the content and the instructor. I also believe in relationship building — whether it's a class of 30 or 100, I always like to get to know who my students are as learners and what their future ambitions are so that I can tailor my instruction accordingly.”

He said the Department of Mathematics and Digital Classroom Services have both improved his ability to engage students by providing access to initiatives like active learning classrooms, online recitations and flipped hybrid mathematics for liberal arts.

“I appreciate (the department's) commitment to professional growth and designing opportunities for students to learn mathematics in a variety of different and accessible ways,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Kerrigan said his primary goal is to finish his doctorate degree at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. His dissertation research is focused on designing more efficient hybrid and online learning environments for students — work he hopes to implement into the world of academia someday.

But while moving forward, Kerrigan said he does not want to lose sight of his experiences as an undergraduate Rutgers student.

“I always loved the small classes taught by professors who connected personally with students and linked theory to practice,” he said. “As an instructor now, I always try to remember what it's like to be on the other side of the lecture hall.”

Kira Herzog is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science and journalism and media studies. She is the news editor for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @kiraherzog1 for more.

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