Math Professor Ranked Top in U.S.

Math Professor Soha Abdeljaber Rated Top in U.S. by her students.

Math Professor Soha Abdeljaber was recently named one of the top 25 professors on RateMyProfessors.com -- a website where students evaluate their professors. That her students consider her an inspiring teacher is a masterpiece of understatement. They rave about her. Here, for instance, are just a few student comments from the website:
  • “She’s blessed.”
  • “THE BEST Math teacher I've ever had...very sweet, wonderful woman...very helpful.”
  • “She teaches as good as she looks. N’uff said.” 

Admittedly RateMyProfessors.com is far from an authoritative source about a professor. But Abdeljaber, who teaches pre-calculus and calculus at NJIT, also gets great student evaluations.  In response, for instance, to the NJIT teacher evaluation question, “Would you recommend this instructor to your friends?” her students wrote:

  • “Hell, yeah. She’s a great teacher.”
  • “I already have.”
  • “Of course, why would you ask?”

When asked “What aspects of the class would you want to see improved?” student responses ranged from “none” to “nothing” to “not one single thing; she’s perfect.”

And it’s not just her students who recognized her teaching prowess. Abdeljaber  has  won an NJIT Excellence in Teaching Award – an honor given annually to professors whose teaching the university considers outstanding. In this interview, Abdeljebe talks about her love of math and teaching.


How do you feel about being ranked so highly on RateMyProfessor.com? 
Being chosen as one of the top 25 professors came as a great honor to me.  I truly appreciate my students' comments on RateMyProfessor.  I felt as proud when I read their comments as I did when I received the Excellence in Teaching Award from NJIT.

How do you teach math so effectively?
I present the lessons in a clear and structured way, while constantly asking questions and encouraging class participation. When working out problems on the board, I ask them what to do next. I involve them in every step of the equation. Then, after the lecture, I give them in-class problems. I work one on one with each student.

What qualities should a good math teacher have?
A good math teacher needs to encourage active participation from the students and constantly motivate them.  A teacher’s own enthusiasm and energy has much to do with getting students motivated.  For math teachers, it’s essential for math instructors to give every student the help he or she needs.

What do you like best about teaching?
It is very rewarding for me to know that I am able to help students broaden their vision of math.  Teaching gives me the ability to make a difference in the lives of many students by equipping them with necessary skills they will need for all areas of life. 

And what is it about math that you love?
Math is exciting and practical.  It definitely improves one’s logic, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Math is everywhere. We need it in every component of our life, from making purchasing decisions to counting down the minute until class is over.

When and how did you first love math?
Mathematics was my favorite subject since elementary school.  It always made sense to me, and I always enjoyed solving math problems. I also had the pleasure of having excellent math teachers. 

Math is now a big part of the sciences.
Absolutely, mathematics underlies every aspect of science. I hope that all students take their knowledge from my class and apply it to their life and course of study.

Your students call you the “best teacher ever.” Is that gratifying?
I always appreciate their comments.  But my real gratification is seeing them succeed and reach their goals in life.

(By Robert Florida)