Rutgers professors ranked 369th best in nation
Students can often be found complaining about their professors on social media, but a recent list shows university students genuinely believe their instructors could be more interesting.
Rutgers ranked 12 out of the 20 schools with the worst professors in a new release of “The Best 380 Colleges,” a publication by The Princeton Review.
The guidebook lists the best 380 four-year colleges in the nation, said David Soto, a co-author on the book. There are 62 unique lists, each of which rank the top 20 schools in any given category.
“We encourage students to look at this holistically,” he said. “The lists are intended to be used together, (not individually).”
This year there were 136,000 surveys completed, he said.
The guidebook, which was started in 1992, is the flagship publication for The Princeton Review, he said. Its findings are based on survey questions answered by students online.
“We go to the real college experts, and that’s those currently enrolled,” he said.
Rutgers’ ranking on the list dubbed “worst professors” is based on a single question, said Jeanne Krier, a publicist at The Princeton Review.
The question was supposed to determine the 20 schools with the best professors, but the nature of the question ensures there is a bottom 20, Soto said.
The question asked if professors were interesting and brought their material to life, he said.
Respondents were asked to pick one of five options, Krier said. The other 61 lists are likewise based on student surveys. There are 80 questions in each survey.
These options range from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree,” Soto said.
He said individual scores are not released, but a school’s aggregate score earns it its ranking within a given category.
Unlike other publications, not all 380 schools in the book make a list, he said. Only the top 20 schools are listed in every category.
This means that some schools may not appear at all on a list, while others may have multiple entries. This year, West Point Military Academy was on the greatest number of lists, appearing on at least 10, he said.
According to Rutgers’ profile in “The Best 380 Colleges,” the University received a score of 68 for “interesting professors” and a score of 70 for “accessible professors.”
“There is a very strong correlation between the professors inside the classroom and those available outside the classroom,” Soto said.
Students tend to rate their professors more highly if there are convenient office hours and said professors ensure their students are aware of the hours, he said.
If professors engage with their students more effectively, their students will think better of them, he said.
“This is all student driven,” Soto said. “I would encourage (all students) to go (online) and take the surveys.”
A lot of professors at the University are passionate about their work, said Zain Padela, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
Having a large number of professors who are primarily interested in research may be not be helpful to their scores, he said. Large class sizes may also be an issue.
Some professors may not be able to bring their personality into a lecture with several hundred students, he said. Smaller classes would likely serve both the instructor and students better.
“I think the best professors are (the ones) who are interested in teaching,” he said.
It is important to note that Rutgers typically does well in the top 20 lists, Soto said. The book is designed so that each of the lists are used in conjunction with the others, with no single list able to accurately describe what a given university may be like.
The University has been on various lists for several years now, he said. The Review considers the institution to be academically strong. Within the book itself is a profile that highlights its various strengths.
“We always rate it pretty highly on several (lists),” he said. “Overall, great things (are) happening on the Rutgers campus.”
A different book by The Princeton Review analyzes the “value” of a degree from an institution, he said. Rutgers students usually do well after earning their undergraduate degree.
The University’s inclusion in the list of 380 alone indicates its standing amongst its peers, he said. Only the top 15 percent of public and private four-year universities are included.
“We think Rutgers is excelling in (many) areas,” he said. “Graduates do well (both with positions and financially).”