RateMyProfessor.com: Friend or Foe?

'A'Rumor (aka research from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire – where?) suggests that the popular website RateMyProfessor.com (the name says it all) may actually be useful. According to an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, the anonymous student evaluations of professors shouldn’t be dismissed, so says the UW research finding.

According to its own site:

RateMyProfessors.com is the largest online destination for professor ratings. With 6,500+ schools and over 10,000,000 entirely student-generated comments and ratings, RateMyProfessors.com is the highest trafficked free site for quickly researching and rating 1,000,000+ professors from colleges and universities across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Over 3 million college students each month are using RateMyProfessors – join the fun!

The Chronicle also reported that “another study, conducted by researchers at the University of Maine, found strong correlations between ratings on RateMyProfessors and formal in-class evaluations.”

However, the site has many research critics. One has to wonder if they’ve been scorned with unfavorable ratings or didn’t get a hot chili pepper rating?

I wanted to see how ratings of some of my past professors stacked up to my own personal ratings. Having been removed from their classes for some time, maybe I have a little more objectivity? Who knows, but still I wanted to check it out.

I first looked up one of my most difficult professors. The professor had a high overall rating, with a low rating when it came to easiness. 100% spot on. The professor was excellent, however none of the courses were ever “easy A” courses.

Next, I checked up on one of the worst professors I had during my undergraduate career. Sure enough this professor had low ratings with many students warning to avoid the professor. One student even remarked “I still have nightmares about this class.” Me too, and it has been many years since I took that class. (Where were these ratings when I needed them? ugh)

One professor got somewhat high ratings, but the written reviews weren’t flattering. I wonder if the students did well in the class, but overall didn’t enjoy the experience, which was the case when I was forced to take a class with this particular professor. I think the comment I read that summed up my own experience with the professor best said in effect the class was good, professor was awful, rude to students, was unreasonable and clearly had favorites.

Overall, for the professors I had and reviewed on the site, the ratings reflected my own ratings of those professors. However, to the point of research by UM, I’m almost certain the formal in-class evaluations never contained the following comments:

Sharp dresser and completely cute!

Who knows. Maybe students do write that in those course evaluations.


About Jordan
Just another guy on the Interwebs.

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