Christopher Bates is No. 1 student-rated professor

Christopher Bates

Good teaching is a mixture of art and science.

An ideal professor is a professor who is able to grab and keep students' attention whilst conveying information; a professor who understands the student as an individual, not as a name on a roll sheet; and a professor who, despite the craziness surrounding a college campus, is able to make time to address any concerns a student may have.

 If going by that exact definition, it is safe to say that Cal Poly Pomona is home to the ideal professor.

Christopher Bates has been a part of CPP’s Department of History for 12 years. On Koofers, he is ranked as the top professor at CPP with 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Although Bates wonders what it truly means to be ranked as "top," he is humbled and appreciative by the recognition.  

"It is certainly nice to be thought of in that way," said Bates, a UCLA alumnus. "Of course, it is also hard to know exactly what it means, that is to say, what precisely is going into these rankings and into students’ opinions. But that, at least, has to be a good thing."

But Bates does not consider his classes to be “easy.” 

"Somebody might say, 'Oh, this is a really easy class' or 'This is a whatever class,' and a student might think that means a cheap A," said Bates. "However, what I think it means, and should mean, is a class that is enjoyable with enjoyable assignments. I do not regard my classes as easy. I assign more work than, I think, probably any professor in my department."

Bates believes that there are two different paths to "easy" when it comes to his profession.   

"I think there are two types of easy professors that are very different from one another," said Bates. "The first type of easy professor is the professor that gives you very simplistic things to do. All you have to do is connect the dots and you get an A. The other type of easy professor presents a class that is engaging and interesting enough that it doesn’t feel like work."

According to his colleagues, Bates is the reason why students continue their education within the department, even after they have fulfilled their general education.    

"Professor Bates is enormously popular with CPP students," said History Professor Eileen Wallis via email. "Because he teaches so many of our survey courses, he is often the first history faculty member a student encounters. The positive experiences students have in his classes help lay the groundwork for many of them to come back and take more classes with us in the future.

"He helps get students — even those who claim they 'hate' history — engaged in and enthusiastic about our discipline."

Apart from his knowledge and refreshing energy, students also enjoy Bates’ incorporation of popular culture within his lectures. 

"Professor Bates brings a whole new energy when breeching the subjects he teaches," said former student Laura Keagy via email. "Each class meeting is like being transported into a different time, a different place.

"By incorporating music relevant to the lecture each day, every element of his class has a story behind it. Every time you step into his classroom, it is like entering a storybook from the past and it leaves you wanting to know more.”

Throughout his lectures and methods of teaching, Bates has impacted many CPP students' lives.

"Professor Bates inspired me so much that I will be graduating spring 2015 with a major in biology and a minor in history,” said Keagy. "[Adding a history minor] was one of the best decisions I have ever made."

Through his profession, Bates finds most satisfaction when students are able to develop their own ideas and approaches to the lectures.  

"I suppose I'm most happy when a student directly mentions that they derive some useful lesson from my lecture that wasn’t necessarily one that I was intending," said Bates. "It's like that old saying, 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a meal, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.'"

Article by Marlen Chinos Originally appeared in The Poly Post on March 10, 2015.  View original article here.

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