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Rate my Professor

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Rate My Professor is a site where students can rate their professors in the complete safety of total anonymity. Needless to say, many university administrators and professors aren't thrilled about being graded by their students:

    Now there's a fascinating concept, actual emphasis on the teaching abilities of professors. Granted, there is no guarantee that a student is grading a professor fairly and accurately or just slamming him in a fit of anger over a bad grade.

    But while I'm sure many a professor feels like an officer who has been fragged by his mutinous troops, why should academics be immune to the same market forces and consumer ratings that all other professional service providers are subject to?
  2. Sierra Mike

    Sierra Mike The Dude Abides Staff Member

    Because most profs haven't had to undergo the dreaded 360 Degree Review process, and therefore haven't had to fend off any real challenges against their Ivory Castle daydreams. :)

  3. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    My school is actually looking to create its own in house sytem for students to rate the professors so that options specific to my school such as the ability of the professor to speak proficient English can be added, and they also want to adjust it so that the more "detailed" reviews can be put near the top while the ones that just give number ratings are at the bottom. Plus I'm sure all sorts of other extras they'll think of (yay for geek school lol).
  4. Brazbit

    Brazbit Nah... It can't be.

    Not a bad idea and a site that has been around a long time. Unfortunately most students get motivated to visit it when they hate an instructor or seriously like an instructor. The average student does not rate their instructor. Then there is the whole thing about the "hotness" rating.

    What would be MUCH more valuable would be to have the end of quarter class evaluations posted. The college I workd for did these in every class but the only people that saw the results were the president, the dean, and the instructor.
  5. joseftu

    joseftu ORIGINAL Pomp-Dumpster

    Let me preface my comments by saying that my own overall rating (of course I've checked!) is 4.7 (out of 5), and I have a chili pepper...meaning I'm "hot"! :)

    I also have a 4.2 rating for "ease," about which I feel pretty comfortable. But I'm very distressed, as an English teacher, to see how many of my students manage to misspell common words (like "English!") in their comments. Sigh. :(

    It's really important to realize that the world of higher education is very diverse. At "Research I" universities, maybe, teaching isn't valued very highly for tenure and promotion. But at the big state universities, and even more at the community colleges like mine (and these two categories are the kind of schools which make up the overwhelming majority of American higher education), it's very much the opposite. Teaching is very important, and student evaluations are weighted very heavily. I have seen teachers denied tenure (that means fired), and denied promotion after gaining tenure, solely on the basis of bad student evaluations--even when their research and publications were exemplary.

    We have student evaluations of faculty already, we use them, and we take them seriously. The teacher himself sees them, the department chair sees them, and when the teacher is up for tenure or promotion, the entire college-wide committee sees them, and they're actively reviewed and discussed, and if even some of the numbers are low, that's a very big problem.

    As for ratemyprofessor.com, it's true that it's pretty unreliable--the middle drops out, and only the very low or very high ratings get posted, because people who are just neutral (the vast majority in most classes) are not motivated to post.

    Also, student evaluations are often heavily influenced by factors like "easiness" or "meanness" which have nothing whatsoever to do with academic rigor or student learning.

    But with all that said, I (and most of my colleagues) are fascinated by ratemyprofessor.com. We damn well do look at it, and we damn well do talk about it, and it means a lot.

    In fact, I'm doing a conference presentation in December about just this subject...not only ratemyprofessor, but also things like de.li.cio.us, wikipedia, and Amazon's reviews...all of these are part of the democratization of information, judgment, criticism and evaluation which is part of our newly-developing culture. All of them are subject to abuse, of course, but all of them also can provide new resources which can be eminently valuable (look at the story in another thread here about Doctors vs. Google...Google wins).

    The idea that academia should shun or isolate itself from these new resources is just silly...and only the most recalcitrant dinosaurs in any university hold that idea. Most of us, very much to the contrary, are very happy with these new tools and resources, and are actively exploring ways to use and study them. That's what we do!

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