Story by David Taylor // Staff Writer
Ratemyprofessors.com helps countless students across the nation decide which teacher they should or shouldn’t take for a course based on ratings given by their fellow students.
Rate My Professors uses a rating system from one to five for professors across three different categories: helpfulness, clarity and easiness. These categories are then averaged for a total score. Students can also tag their professors with brief descriptions for those who don’t care to read a full review. And students can even rate their professors’ hotness with a chili pepper.
According to the site, ratemyprofessors.com features more than 15 million ratings across 8,000 schools and 1.8 million professors. For MTSU, it lists 1,301 professors. Of course, it’s not a foolproof system. For example, the second highest rated professor at MTSU, Loren Mulraine, now teaches at Belmont University. Additionally, certain professors who do teach at MTSU don’t have any ratings at all.
Still, ratemyprofessors.com is a valuable resource for any student. Where students once had to talk to each other directly to learn about a professor, they can now find multiple opinions online. Though not every rating will be scrupulous or even fair, the site does provide a generally accurate reference for students looking to avoid a nightmare professor or to find a really great one.
After speaking with four of the top five highest rated (and current) professors at MTSU, it’s clear they have earned their ratings—each of them scored a full five points. Here is what they had to say:
1.) Dr. L’Oreal Stephens
L’Oreal Stephens, who only began teaching at MTSU in the Fall of 2010, strives to “encourage open discussion and application of material instead of strictly lecturing.” When asked what sets her apart from her colleagues, she said, “Perhaps it is my goofball sense of humor, quirky fashion style or that I speak three languages: English, Southern and sarcasm.”
Stephens said she enjoys meeting and interacting with the diverse group of students she has every semester. But the greatest joy of teaching for her is when a student tells her that she has helped them find their voice.
Though she is a figure of knowledge, Stephens stresses that she is also a figure of learning. She said that she learns from her students each semester and is continuing her own education. At the end of this semester, she will have completed the requirements for a Graduate Certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies. Stephens teaches Fundamentals of Communication, Conflict and Organizations, and Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies.
2.) Anton Eff
Anton Eff has been teaching at MTSU since 1990. He considers himself lucky to teach a subject that is inherently interesting: economics. Eff said the greatest part of teaching for him is working with intelligent people. When asked about how he felt being rated one of the top five professors at MTSU, Eff was very modest.
“While I very much appreciate the nice things people have said about me online, the truth is that the same could have been said about most of my colleagues in economics,” he said. I teach in a really great department, with colleagues who are doing important research and who care about teaching.”
Eff currently teaches Econometrics, Urban & Regional Economics, History of Economic Thought and Principles of Macroeconomics.
3.) Candie Moonshower
Candie Moonshower has been an instructor at MTSU since 2009. She’s also a published author and formerly a freelance journalist. She said she has the same approach to teaching as she does with parenting: very few but very strict rules.
As a teacher, she does her best to keep her students from falling behind. She said she remembers how terrible of a procrastinator she was in college and does her best to prevent her students from being the same way with a step-by-step process in assignments.
Miz Moon, as she refers to herself, said she was shocked, honored and humbled to have been rated the third best professor at MTSU. Most of all, she hopes it reflects that the students realize she is there to support them.
“I have had students come to my office for far more things than just help with a paper,” she said. “I’ve had students come who were hungry. I fed them my lunch or send them to the foodbank. Students who had grave personal issues that were interfering with their studies. Or girlfriend or boyfriend troubles. Or something that’s happening on campus. Or roommates issues … I’ve heard that a lot. I’m glad they felt that they could come and talk to me about those sort of things.”
Miz Moon teaches Intro to University Writing, Expository Writing, Research and Argumentative Writing and The Experience of Literature.
4.) Dr. Mark E. Jobe
Unfortunately, Dr. Mark E. Jobe, the fourth highest rated professor, could not be reached in time for an interview. However, the attitude he exhibited during correspondence was polite and humble.
5.) Lori Kissinger
Lori Kissinger has been teaching at MTSU since Fall of 2000. She said she does her best to push learning beyond the classroom by trying to get students involved on campus and in the community.
“I want the students to know that learning is not contained in a room, and that what we do learn in the classroom has practical application outside of that room,” Kissinger said.
Kissinger said her favorite part of teaching is helping students discover their potential. She said it is important to her that students know she cares for the progress they make as individuals despite having so many students.
“As I told them (students), my class is like the song “Hotel California”; you can join any time you like, but you can never leave,” she said. “What I mean by that is once they sign up for a class, I have signed on for life with them to help open doors, be a reference and provide any guidance that I can from that moment forward.”
Kissinger also said that, aside from being with her husband and son, MTSU is her favorite place to be. She loves the “variety of intelligent students” and the commitment of her fellow professors to bettering students education.
“I wish more people understood what a wealth of knowledge and talent is on this campus. I find it a blessing every day to walk on campus and you will rarely find me in a bad mood once I get out of my car and head for the classroom.”
Kissinger teaches Fundamentals of Communication and Organizational Communication in Communities.
Read more work by David Taylor at his blog.
This story appeared in the Nov. 30, 2015 print edition of Sidelines. Copies are currently available for free on stands throughout MTSU’s campus.