Rate My Professor names Rutgers instructor in nationwide ranking
A math class with John Kerrigan is different than all others, said Taylin Liebowitz, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.
Kerrigan, a professor in the Department of Mathematics, was listed among the top 25 university professors in the nation, according to an annual Rate My Professor ranking.
"The class was creative and the material was easy to understand," Liebowitz said.
What makes Kerrigan unique is his experience at Rutgers, Liebowitz said.
Kerrigan has been a member of the Rutgers community since 2003. He has completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University and is currently pursuing his doctorate in Design of Learning Environments through the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, he said.
“I think that my experiences on campus and with student life over the years help me to better relate to the students and their everyday struggles and victories,” he said.
Kerrigan’s full-time profession as a high school vice principal has contributed to his success as a professor.
“I think my work in that arena with observing teachers and mentoring students has helped me become a stronger and more nurturing professor at Rutgers,” he said.
To engage students, Kerrigan tries to “speak their language” and incorporate as much technology and humor as possible into his courses.
“I know sitting through a traditional lecture sometimes can be very boring,” he said. “In addition, some students enter math class with anxiety or bad prior experiences. I give all students a fresh start and try to show them that math is accessible and that I will support them through it.”
In a change of pace, Liebowitz said Kerrigan kept the class upbeat by avoiding lecture for one hour and 20 minutes. And rather than the typical review session prior to an exam, Kerrigan had students go over past material with online games.
Kerrigan, who Liebowitz said was easy to contact, did not rush through lessons in order to ensure all students understood the material.
“Teaching is not just about delivering the content,” Kerrigan said.
Creating a positive and inclusive learning community where students can work together and also freely ask the instructor for help is crucial, Kerrigan said.
“Positivity and a light sense of humor can go a long way in making students feel comfortable to work hard in class,” he said.
Kerrigan said he is extremely appreciative for the ongoing support and guidance he has received from the Department of Mathematics and his supervisor, Michael Weingart.
“The mathematics department has afforded me with the opportunity to teach a lot of different math courses in-person, hybrid, and online to enhance my teaching repertoire,” he said.
Weingart has been a large influence for Kerrigan and his professional career, he said.
“[He] is a brilliant educator who is hands-on with all of his instructors and inspires them to give students their best,” he said. “As a result, we have all come to lean on one another and learn from one another as the years have gone by. I am very proud to be a Rutgers employee; it's more than a job, it's a family.”
Noa Halff is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. She is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.