Grading Your Professors

With registration for the summer and fall semesters quickly approaching, you may be wondering how to choose the best professors and classes. First of all, that depends on your personal learning style, your individual course load, and even what you hope to get out of your classes. For instance, are you looking for a professor who engages the entire class or one who prefers to lecture? Or, do you need a less writing intensive course because you already have a math and a lab science scheduled? Even, let’s be honest, are you looking for an easy A to boost your GPA?

RateMyProfessors.com is the largest online database for researching these preferences online. According to their website, over 4 million college students visit the site each month and users have added more than 14 million ratings, 1.3 million professors, and 7,000 schools since the site went online. They also expanded the review process to include campus ratings. Now, you can rate your opinion of your campus as well as your professors.

“Choosing the best courses and professors is a rite of passage for every college student, and connecting with peers on RateMyProfessors.com has become a key way millions of students navigate this process,” said Carlo DiMarco, Vice President of University Relations for mtvU. RateMyProfessors is owned and operated by mtvU, MTV’s college network.

Campus ratings are based on scores from the following 10 categories: school reputation, campus location, career opportunities, school library, campus grounds and common areas, internet speed, food on campus, clubs and events, social activities, and happiness with the decision to attend your school. GSC is rated 2.6 out of a possible 5. However, the school only has four ratings. Is this enough information to gauge whether to attend the institution? That question reveals one drawback of the RateMyProfessors site.

In other words, who is doing the rating and why? Skewed results are common on RateMyProfessors, according to an article in The Washtenaw Voice. Addie Shrodes reports that the majority of ratings come from the students at either end of the spectrum and we rarely hear from the students in the middle. This tendency yields fewer, and more extreme, results.

Check the following results in the overall quality category against your own experiences here at GSC. The overall quality rating for our professors was 3.89 out of 5 with only 54 reviews.

Department

Overall Quality

Accounting

4.0

Art History

4.3

Biology

2.0

Business

3.9

Computer Science

4.0

Criminal Justice

3.6

Education

2.5

Engineering

2.9

English

3.3

Fine Arts

2.5

Forestry

2.4

History

3.5

Information Science

2.0

Management

4.0

Math

4.5

Music

3.1

Nursing

3.0

Physics

2.0

Psychology

3.5

Science

2.0

Social Science

3.3

Sociology

4.0

Theater

2.9

 

These numbers may or may not reflect your experience. Further, they may not be based on your particular definition of a quality professor. Student preferences may run the gamut from laid-back and friendly to demanding and intense. It is all subjective.

 

Professors have different opinions about the site as well. Some never look at it and consider the information almost useless, while some feel that almost all student feedback has value. Some are in the middle. Dr. Carmine Grieco, Assistant Professor of Exercise Science said, “RateMyProfessors is a fun and entertaining site, but I don’t put a lot of stock in it, professionally speaking. College is a lot like exercise. The harder you work a muscle, the bigger and stronger it will become. However, this can be very physically uncomfortable for some people, so they avoid the “pain” of exercise. A college class is similar in the sense that the harder the professor pushes the student, the greater the level of learning will be. But just like exercise, this “cognitive workout” may be very uncomfortable. So it is easy to see why some very effective professors might have low ratings and, conversely, why some ineffective (i.e. “easy”) professors might have very high ratings.”

 

Other than visiting the site for entertainment, of which there is plenty. The Professors Strike Back videos are particularly fun to watch. The best way to use RateMyProfessors is as a part of your research strategy, rather than the total. Other methods are talking to fellow students, scheduling an appointment with a professor you are considering, sitting in on a class that interests you (with permission), or reading student reviews if your school makes them available to students.

 

Researching potential professors is an important part of planning your college career. However, do not despair knowing exactly what to expect in every class. Part of the college experience is adapting to new and people and situations. Sometimes the professor you would not have chosen in a million years can be the one who teaches you the most.


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