Comments about ‘BYU professor sits atop national rankings’

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Published: Thursday, Dec. 11 2008 10:34 a.m. MST

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I'm not saying he's not a great teacher.
But an easy teacher that teaches a subject students are already interested in will have a much easier time getting high marks than a teacher who grades hard and teaches a difficult subject.
I taught high school for a couple of years, and there were times I was much too easy on the kids--and I was popular for that very reason. The teacher next door was a better teacher, with more experience, and harder on the kids--and he wasn't as popular. I changed my ways, but fact is: easier teachers will be more popular, even if they don't deserve that popularity.
Again, Bott's a fine teacher. But the best teachers require more from their students.


He was my grandfather's favorite professor at BYU.

Fickle Popularity

Popularity is a fickle thing. I'm sure Brother Bott is well-grounded enough to know that. Here's hoping he doesn't write a book that an apostle will have to quote in a devotional address and call it "plain sectarian nonsense," as Elder McConkie had to do many years ago.

Re: Timj

I have to disagree with you. I am a teacher now, and I see many very difficult teachers in this school who are the most popular in the school. I remember my high school days and the teachers that I remember most were the ones who touched my life,helped me to learn, and taught a subject I was interested in. My BYU days it was the same way, the best professors were the ones that taught a subject I enjoyed and ones that I learned from. Some of my toughest teachers were my favorites, and some of the easier ones were also favorites. I took Randy Bott and the class is easy, but I learned more from that class than almost any other, because he had a passion for teaching, and I enjoyed the material he taught. I still use the things I learned in his class to this day and will continue to the remainder of my life.

re: RR

"He really is that good. I sat in on his class a few times and he knows the gospel better than anyone. If there is ever an empty seat I'd be surprised. Glad to see a BYU professor is #1!!! Let's try to see people knock BYU's education now."

RR must be a BYU grad. Did you read, RR, how the "best teacher" was arrived at? What does that have to do with BYU's education? The kids like him? Wow.

Former CA Fresno Missionary

Randy Bott is an even better person and priesthood leader. His testimony, along with his keen sense of humor, have inspired thousands to become better men and women (Bott's teachings in the mission field included the fact that you would need a sense of humor to attain the Celestial Kingdom and to survive missionary life). Congratulations!


I'm afraid I'm not overly impressed. Being top-ranked as a teacher means a lot when it's difficult concepts like math or statistics but when it's feel good topics like religion people are bound to enjoy the class more just by virtue of the topic. I think even Brother Bott would concede that.

Brother Bott and company

Now the BIG SECRET for how the rest of you out there can go to a class taught by the wonderful Brother Bott-----He almost always teaches classes at BYU Education Week, held every August. This week is the BEST KEPT SECRET of the Church. The BEST week of vacation you'll ever spend! Mary Ellen Edmunds, John Bytheway, S. Michael Wilcox, Susan Easton Black, Doug Brinley, Paul Warner, Randle Wright, Kathy Headlee, Robert Millet, and oh so many more. Plus an Apostle--ahhhhhh, how am I going to wait til next August???!!!!

My Favorite

He was my favorite teacher, and that was 10 years ago.


There are many wonderful, gifted teachers in the CES. My father taught for seventeen years in this system. The best teacher is the one who teaches by the spirit and helps us to learn by the Spirit. How do we really grade teachers? and why is so important that we bring attention and "Praise the Man". Is praise and recognition so important in the Gospel Plan? No. We have had many wonderful teachers in our lives, from Primary teachers to Home teachers. Lets all be of "One Heart and One Mind"? Brother Bott doesn't care about the recognition of being one of the best teachers, so why is so important to others/students to Praise the Man? Is this the attitude and general state of our members?


Taking a class and getting an education are 2 different things if you're the student. Lecturing to students and teaching them are 2 different things if you're the professor. Brother Bott clearly teaches and the students are clearly learning and receiving an educaitn in something which pertains to their lives. I wasn't fortunate enough to take a class from him by my son did and he was well prepared for the realities of mission life.

As a footnote, I agree with Bro. Bott, Sister Black is an amazing teacher--I was lucky enough to be in her classes when I was at BYU.

Kudos to BTTF

Back to the Future is right on. The purpose of higher education is NOT entertainment! I took Bott's class years ago, and he strives for a particular brand of entertainment: the LDS brand that is filled with all the speculation, warm fuzzy myths and nonsense you can pack into a 50 minute class period! There is absolutely NO rigor to the grading - you would actually have to WORK VERY HARD to get anything lower than an A. And how competitive is a missionary prep class anyway? Try the Accounting classes and Business Management classes at the Marriott School and see how a REAL rigorous educational experience is supposed to be!

This is such a joke it is not even funny!

BYU '01 alum

I had Brother Bott and loved taking his class; I recommended it to others. He is one of many fantastic faculty I experienced across several disciplines at BYU, and I think there may be a grain of truth in Timj's argument that he gets a few extra votes here and there because people appreciate the ease of his class as well as his abilities as a teacher (which, as I said, really are great!).

By the way, I also had Dr. Wood and thought he was one of the best professors I've ever had--truly a gifted teacher as well.

Although I appreciated and enjoyed the variety of teaching methods I experienced at BYU, I personally learned more from teachers who challenged me and made me earn my grades. But different students respond to different teaching styles; what's good for one student's learning may not be ideal for another's.

Susan Black....

"As a footnote, I agree with Bro. Bott, Sister Black is an amazing teacher--I was lucky enough to be in her classes when I was at BYU."

I'm glad to hear more than one person, including Bott, say Sister Black is a good teacher. I know of her writings and researching, but I listened to a talk of hers on BYU tv and while interested in the topic I was bored out of my head because of the monotone, emotionless presentation. Must have been an off-day for her.


Regardless of whether he really is or isn't, this was fun to read, and I'm sure he it is easy to get an A from someone you enjoy listening to and interacting with. I always did worse in the classes the teacher was either boring or just down right unpleasant in, and better in the classes with excited and animated professors, regardless of the subject and how smart or stupid I personally was in them. It's called engaging or not so much.

re: Kudos

I'm sure Bro. Bott would agree that entertainment is not the purpose of higher education. Having attended two semesters of his classes, I can attest that entertainment is not the purpose of his classes, either. Sure, he has a sense of humor, but that's not what he (nor his students) are there for. Sad that you have nothing better to do than bash people who are legitimately trying to do good things.

As for grades, "hard class" does not always equal "good class", and "easy" does not always equal "worthless." I've taken plenty of very hard courses (advanced math, physics, computer science -- I'm working on a PhD) that would surely rival the rigor of anything the MBA or Accounting programs can dish out. Yet I still find great value in what I learn in many other "easy" (but worthwhile) classes like Bro. Bott's. In fact, as a grad student I don't get credit or grades for attending his class. Grades aren't what I'm at school for anyway-- I proved I could get A's long before I ever came to BYU.


I took three classes from Brother Bott during my years at BYU. All of them were superb. His 10 page open-note open-book tests are not just an easy way to get an "A" grade. They have a purpose.

A great professor and a great man!

best religion professor?

I agree that Brother Bott is an amazing man, and I also think he's right that he isn't the best professor in the department, but he got the wrong one. Sister Black is great, but Alex Baugh is the absolute best, and is the best-kept secret at BYU.

Boise Coug

I'm not disagreeing that these type of religion courses provide a great deal of worth to students. But it also tough to argue that they provide any kind of academic rigor. They are honestly fluff courses that nonetheless provide a great deal of life-long worth.

So it's an easy A, so what?

I too had 2 semesters of Doc&Cov from Bro. Bott, about 10 years ago. Sure it was an easy class. But you know what? 10 years later I still remember his teachings on receiving revelation, personalized temptations, chastening and correction, preparation, dealing with weakness, respect for other beliefs, and of course missionary work.

Perhaps the subject lends itself a little better to memorable lessons more than your typical organic-chemistry (or fill-in-your-least-favorite-subject) class, but that to me is the mark of a good teacher. Which do you value more, that hard-earned B+, or the effect in your life from what you've learned?

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