Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How Reliable and Impactful is Rate My Professors?

By Michael Donne

When it comes time to pick classes for the upcoming semester, many students will flock to Rate My Professors to get a first impression of who they may be learning from for the next few months. Rate My Professors allows students to rate their instructors on the level of difficulty and overall quality of the class on a scale of one to five. They are also given three tags to describe the teacher such as if they are a tough grader, whether or not they give extra credit, or their overall personality. While this can be a big help to students and a confidence booster for teachers, many reviews can be biased.
A student receiving a bad grade in the class could result in a negative review for the teacher, whether or not it was deserved. Unfortunately, many reviews of professors at Stockton is that the higher difficulty courses often correlates to a low quality rating. This trend is the most prevalent in general courses, as there is little to no chance for professors who are challenging in general courses to also receive a good rating. Freshmen Brandon Bess comments on why this is the case,  “How am I going to use any of this information? Individuals use rate my professor to select easier classes based on ratings, in hopes to get an easy A. It's so biased in my opinion, i've taken classes with professors who had low ratings and they were the complete opposite from their reviews.” With all of Rate My Professors pros and cons, the expectation for general courses is one of the more worrying things about the website. Rather than taking a interesting or possibly career changing class, students may miss these opportunities to instead take a class that poses no challenge to them.
To Professors, Rate My Professors is a website that many teachers look at seriously or avoid at all costs. Professor Erin O’Hanlon recently visited Rate My Professors for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised at the rating she received, with only being upset about one thing, her hotness,  “Personally, I’m shocked, because I think I should have more red peppers.” To many professors, the rating that really matters is the feedback students give on I.D.E.A forms. “They look at the I.D.E.A scores more closely because they are validated,” Professor O’Hanlon speaking about why she believes Rate My Professors doesn’t impact teachers like it can for students.
While Rate My Professors does have its drawback, it is not too powerful and many of the problems disappear when looking at higher level courses, when students begin to appreciate a difficult class that challenges them. For O’Hanlon, Rate My Professors is just one of the many variables students account for when picking classes, “If students rely so heavily on Rate My Professors that they make a choice based on that factor alone, they might be missing out on some great faculty and great courses. But I think that students make choices on their classes based on a lot of things, how does it fit into their schedule, will it impact their Thirsty Thursdays, have they had this professor before?”
While Rate My Professor can be a good resource, many reviews should be taken with a grain of salt, and students should instead make sure that they are learning and taking the classes that can allow them to leave Stockton with the best education possible.

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