AMES, Iowa -- The Princeton Review has teamed up with RateMyProfessors.com to create the first comprehensive guidebook to America's top undergraduate professors. Published today, "The Best 300 Professors" (Random House/Princeton Review) book includes three Iowa State University faculty members -- Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology; John Warne Monroe, an associate professor of history; and Anne Clem, a senior lecturer in accounting.
The Princeton Review developed the project in partnership with RateMyProfessors.com and selected the featured professors based on qualitative and quantitative data from survey findings and ratings collected by both organizations. The final group of "best" professors chosen constitutes less than .02 percent of the roughly 1.8 million post-secondary teachers instructing students at colleges and universities across the U.S.
Gentile says in the book that he wants to help his students "figure out what are the really important things to know rather than to study everything."
His course load includes Intro to Psychology, Focus Group Methodology and Media Psychology. Gentile tries to be "a performer" in an effort to keep the attention of his students, particularly in his larger early morning classes.
"Teaching is all about the student's attention," Gentile said. "If I don't keep their attention, it doesn't matter how good the content is. Especially in a large classroom setting, that requires you to go beyond just lecturing to them. It requires that you actually find a way to make the content entertaining, make it relevant, or just make it fun."
John Warne Monroe
The book says Monroe is deeply invested in the idea of liberal arts education, believing that in the process of mastering a limited amount of specialized material in a disciplined way, students will develop broader intellectual skills are applicable in a wide array of situations once they enter the workforce.
His courses include European History, 1517-Present; France 1715-Present; and Modern European Intellectual and Cultural History. The books reports that he works to make his lectures interesting in creative ways. Some tell stories of particular people and events, while others start with an element of everyday life that is often taken for granted.
Monroe is not taking this honor for granted.
"It means a lot, less for the honor itself than for what it says about how much my students have appreciated the work I've done in the classroom over the last nine years," he said. "Of course it's gratifying to get this kind of positive feedback, but at the same time, I think of becoming a good teacher as a life-long project. There's a unique capacity for understanding how the learning process works that can only come after many years of practice."
Students claim accounting lecturer Clem (left) "knows your question before you ask it" and "knows her stuff and will help you figure it out if you don't get it."
Her classes include Advanced Accounting Problems and Financial Accounting, which is an introductory class. Clem says that she "loves to see the students start to understand a topic that is completely new to them and to begin to see its relevance in the world." She works to help students break down the material in a systematic way that assists in their comprehension.
"My goal in the classroom is to make my students
comfortable, and I believe that is the key to successful
learning," Clem said. "To foster a comfortable
environment, I use a conversational approach and encourage all
students to participate. In addition, I use terminology and
analogies with which the students are familiar as they attempt
to master new material. I take pride in the successes of my
students and when they struggle, I am compelled to find a way
to help them find solutions."