Instructors check RateMyProfessors.com
Study says review site gives consensus, but what do profs think?
As the semester wears on, many students have developed an opinion on their instructors, for better or worse.
Teacher evaluations are well underway for the semester. Students can write whatever they want to be seen by the professors and administrators, but the student body can’t benefit from their classmates’ experiences.
Ratemyprofessors.com solved that problem by developing a website they claim is “built for college students, by college students.”
Anyone can search the MTV-owned website for over 1.5 million instructors across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
It even proves to be a decent guide, according to research done by the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire in 2011. It suggests the site displays a high degree of consensus similar to other types of student evaluations.
Currently, there are 887 members of MRU’s past and present teaching faculty available to rate on a scale of one to five in five categories: easiness, helpfulness, clarity, interest level prior to attending class and textbook use.
Users are encouraged to comment on their overall experience with the professor, and can also assign a chili pepper symbol to a professor’s profile to indicate attractiveness.
Because anyone can view the comments without signing up for the site, many professors check their own ratings. Patrick Perri, a computer sciences and information systems instructor looks at the site about once per semester.
“It used to bug me way more, and then I did some research on online commenting,” he said. “So who comments? People with an axe to grind, people who feel they don’t have a voice. They are saying it because they need to say it.”
Perri has both positive and negative reviews on the website, with a total of 24 comments dating as far back as 2002. Perri estimates he teaches about 130 students per semester, so it is important to recognize the ratings are not an entirely accurate representation of an instructor’s abilities.
Bruce Ravelli, a professor of sociology and anthropology, said students need a voice and will log onto RateMyProfessors.com to vent. Ravelli has written about the benefit of anonymous student assessments.
“The ‘rate my prof’ is not a popularity contest,” Ravelli said. “That assumes that students are thinking about you 24/7 and they’re not, they have busy lives.
“From the comments that I see, majorities are thoughtful. Why would we want to limit the student voice? If I am upset by what a student has written, there is a kernel of truth. Always.”
Environmental science instructor Diana Fletcher is one of the highest-rated MRU faculty members on the website. Fletcher attributes the rating to her teaching method being low stress, and to teaching a topic she and her students are interested in.
Regardless of her high rating on RateMyProfessors.com, Fletcher said she still receives negative feedback from her students after the semester has finished, via student evaluations.
“I will look at it and it will say ‘gives too much homework,’ and I’ll think about that one all night. ‘They don’t like me because I did this,’ but that’s just me,” she said. “I don’t think everybody would be like that.”
If you choose to use RateMyProfessors.com to let the world know your experiences in class, keep in mind that the instructors are people too. They do have feelings and they check their ratings, so please rate responsibly.