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History professor earns high rating on RateMyProfessors.com

Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian

Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian

by Madi Wilson, Features/Perspectives Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — History professor Nicolas Proctor earned his way onto RateMyProfessors.com, his name being the first one listed under Top Professors.

The website allows college students to rate their professors and campuses. It’s meant to help students choose the best courses and professors during their higher education experience.

​Without even realizing it, Proctor received 23 reviews and a rating of 4.7 on a 5.0 scale. His top three tags to describe him as a professor are the terms “hilarious,” “amazing lectures” and “caring,” and his level of difficulty is rated 3.9.

​When informing Proctor that the picture used to describe his hotness is a red-hot chili pepper, he chuckled and replied, “Oh boy. Yeah, that clearly shows that it’s a dated dataset.”

​Proctor’s most recent comment was posted on Nov. 2, with his very first rating being posted in 2002. This goes to show how little the website is used by Simpson students.

​“You know other people at Simpson so maybe you don’t need something like this, especially once you start in a major,” Proctor said. “But in my experience, students don’t even read, like, the online description of the course. They just sort of see what it’s fulfilling. [The website] is like extra research.”

​RateMyProfessors.com seems to be a dying website, particularly for smaller institutions, which is why Proctor’s number of reviews is somewhat shocking. After informing some of Proctor’s students of his overall quality rating, they weren’t astonished in the slightest.

​History major Jordan Beem said that Proctor is an all-around great professor who runs a nice classroom.

​“I think the reason he has a good rating is because it would be really hard to say negative things about him,” Beem said. “He is very accepting of all kinds of answers and opinions in his classroom. He is constantly asking you thought-provoking questions, which spawns some pretty positive dialogue. I feel like you want to do the work for him and for his class.”

In response to the website, Beem agrees that Simpson students don’t use it often.

​“I don’t think people use it as much here, you know, because obviously, word travels fast or you can figure things out from other people,” Beem said. “It can be beneficial in some ways, but at the same time, I think that it could make a professor look worse than they are, and so you don’t get the experience from them.”

​Tyler Stokesbary, a history and political science double major who has heard of the website but has never used it, said: ”I’m not surprised [Proctor] has such a high score. I’m just surprised that he has a score at all.”

​Working at Simpson since 1998, Proctor has taught many history classes that several students, including Stokesbary and Beem, have sincerely enjoyed. One student’s comment from the website read, “History truly does come alive in his classrooms, and he’s the best to discuss it.”

​Stokesbary said even students who aren’t history majors think Proctor is a great professor.

​ “I think the whole history department is wonderful, but what’s especially different about Proctor—the same thing could probably be said about Sasser— is how many non-history majors come up to me and say, like, ‘Proctor’s the best,’” Stokesbary said. “Usually, the reaction to history is ‘very boring,’ ‘hated that class,’ or ‘hated it in high school.’”

​Not only does Proctor’s humorous personality keep students interested, but his teaching methods are different than most and allow students to stay attentive and engaged.

​“It’s hard to do, but I try to rearrange the seating in the room so that everybody can see everybody else,” Proctor said. “I think that that helps people respond to one another more. I do a lot of games in class, particularly role-playing games. A lot of people find those fun and engaging and learn a lot from them.”

​Whether it’s his love for history, personality or teaching methods, it’s safe to say that Proctor is a well-liked professor. And there is a page full of comments and ratings to prove it.

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