McIntosh ranks 12th in the nation on mtvU's ratemyprofessors.com

By Ashley Edwards, The Murray State News

When scheduling classes, students often turn to the popular Web site ratemyprofessors.com for advice about which professors to take.

For students looking to take English 102, Lecturer of English and Philosophy Sally McIntosh will be a top choice because of her 12th-place rating on a national list of the site’s highest rated professors list comprised of top-50 professors.
General Manager of mtvU, the company that owns the Web site, Stephen Friedman, said the company first decided to compile a list of the top-50 professors on the site because they wanted to spotlight professors who genuinely influence students.

“We felt it was time to shine a light on all those inspirational professors we all wish we had,” Friedman said.

The rankings were compiled with statistical support and consultation from a professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Students rate their professors in several categories using a one to five scale, with five being the highest. The categories include clarity, helpfulness, easiness and the student’s interest level before enrolling in the course. After students rate a professor in those categories, overall quality is determined by an equal weighing of clarity and helpfulness.

For each of the professor lists, each individual rating value was first standardized around its mean. Using the standardized scores from 2005, 2006 and 2007 to date, weighted scores were computed using 15 percent for 2005, 25 percent for 2006 and 60 percent for 2007. Using the weighted score, professors were ranked from high to low. Only professors with 30 ratings or higher from 2005 forward were included to provide statistical significance.

All professors were verified as actively teaching in the current semester by each school at the time the lists were compiled. If there were any ties, professors with more ratings were ranked higher. School size did not affect the outcome of the lists. Friedman said ratemyprofessors.com is a huge part of college life because a large part of the college career is spent in class and students want to learn from professors who interest them.

He said the site has been successful because students trust their peers’ judgment and if they find the general consensus on one professor is positive, they want to enroll in that professor’s course. After reading the comments posted about McIntosh, Friedman said he could understand why students like her. “She is the kind of professor I would have loved to have had in college,” Friedman said.

On ratemyprofessors.com, McIntosh has 36 ratiness a 4.7, average helpfulness a 5 and on overall quality she is given a 5. Students have also written comments like “Mrs. McIntosh is one of the best teachers I have ever had. She is so patient with her students. I think it is impossible to make her mad, yet I don’t know how anyone would want to. She is very helpful in and outside of class. She has a genuine care and concern for her students. I would recommend her to everyone thinking about taking English 102.” Another student wrote, “Mrs. McIntosh is very understanding. She may need to have ‘dancing bears’ to make her class more interesting during MLA documentation, but she is very clear on the material. I would absolutely recommend her to any student looking to survive English.”

McIntosh, who has taught at Murray State since the fall of 1991, said she was shocked when she discovered her ranking on the site, because she was compared to professors from universities all over the country. She said she is grateful to get the recognition from her students. “I have always cared about the students and regardless of their abilities. … I try to help them understand I’m here to help them and prepare them to continue their education,” McIntosh said. While the ranking is an honor, she said she doesn’t take it too seriously. “I think the site is really for the students,” McIntosh said. “I don’t think it should be used for the (English) department, but the comments are beneficial for the students.”

McIntosh said prior to being named the site’s 12th-highest rated professor, she and several other professors in the English department had gone to the site to read the of comments students had listed about them. She said professors look at the site to see what students feel should change. “I am going to stick to primarily what I was doing and I hope that continues to work,” McIntosh said.

She said she is happy with anything that recognizes Murray State as an outstanding university. Unlike McIntosh, not all professors receive such positive feedback and the site is now giving professors the opportunity to lash back.

Friedman said the new addition to ratemyprofessors.com is called “Professors Strike Back,” and is the most popular program they do. Through this, professors can submit video responses to student comments like “mean and cruel, not nice at all,” or “thinks his brain is a big as his hair.”

Friedman said he is friends with several professors and they agree they may not like what the site has to say, but they see it as a necessary evil. “What we love about this site is that it is 100 percent driven by college students,” Friedman said.

Ratemyprofessors.com has also added a Facebook application so students can research their professors from the site.

Highest Rated Professors
1. Robert Citino - Eastern Michigan University
2. Devon Hanahan - College of Charleston
3. Donna Christy - Rhode Island College
4. Chris Legrow - Marshall University
5. Eric Wildman - University of Houston
6. Martin Jones - College of Charleston
7. Mellisa Bush - University of North Florida
8. Christine Lottes - Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
9. Kateryna Schray - Marshall University
10. Jenny Lee - Pratt University
11. Karen Waters - Columbus State University
12. Sally McIntosh - Murray State University
13. Scott Dwyer - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
14. Graeme Connolly - Augusta State University
15. Anthony Sabino - St. John's University

Ashley Edwards can be reached at ashleyb.edwards@murraystate.edu.

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