Students love RateMyProfessors.com; faculty have mixed feelings
Campus Eye Staff
As registration opens for this fall’s classes, students are logging onto RateMyProfessors as an indispensable resource. While the website’s use has become very prevalent, just how reliable is the information being provided?
“It will help your life … I recommend it all the time,” says student Michaela McCallum, in her sixth semester at ARCC, about RateMyProfessors.com.
When choosing which class to enroll in, she acknowledges that it’s best to get the inside scoop from a firsthand former student on campus. However, when in doubt or especially if new to the school, the website is a great resource.
“Everyone’s learning style is different,” McCallum cautions to be a consideration when evaluating the reviews.
“It’s important for students to have an outlet to express themselves and be able to make connections,” Elizabeth Sloan, communications teacher in her fifth year here at the Coon Rapids campus has to say about the website. “It’s great [for students] to have a background before taking the class.”
While Sloan may occasionally browse the website to “jog her brain” during some spare time, she was pleasantly surprised to find out she is the website’s highest rated professor for the campus. And that’s without giving students extra credit for posting good reviews.
Sloan points out that this site provides students access to a resource which offers the perspective of other students. This may provide better insight than say an institution-issued survey consisting of numbers. Along with this perspective however, she also recommends to keep an open mind. “One negative view isn’t the general consensus.”
Erica Renfro, a student on campus and online, has had plenty of experience using RateMyProfessors for the last four plus years. She believes this site is effective as long as students are being smart about what they look up and do their homework on the teachers and which classes they have been reviewed for.
“You have to take into account what types of students might be using it and why they would give high and low scores for teachers.” One approach she recommends to viewing is to “use this site [with] the same discernment that you do when you buy things online and look over the product reviews.”
To see more features of the site being used, Renfro wishes “teachers would take interest in the site. They can take some of the comments into consideration. The site also has an option for the teacher to give their 2 cents on what was said, which I feel would be really great.”
Second-year student Sydney Kopen looks over the website before every semester. She would also like to see more professors write back to their comments. She credits RateMyProfessors to be “usually accurate, if you look at enough reviews.” She takes into account which type of students may be posting on the website. “People who go on there tend to be biased … students who review may be out for blood.” She speculates that students leaving comments are apt to be the ones who have a strong opinion one way or another.
Chemistry Instructor Kelly Befus, the faculty grievance representative on Coon Rapids campus, says, “students must consider the source and motivation.” She points out that the school does not control the website, allowing anyone, without proof or guarantee of enrollment, to post anything and add anyone. While students may have free range of what to include in a post, Befus brings up the conduct demonstrated on the other end of the ratings. “The faculty are professionals, they would not point out students they dislike.” She also adds that students will look for and point out different qualities in professors. Her concern is that this may bring bias into a class from a certain subject beforehand, affecting a student’s overall view and judgment.
“Bad comments breed bad comments and good comments will breed good,” Befus said of the trends that develop from the posts. She said would not like to see a student miss out on a great professor as a result of reading a bad comment.