A site that gives first-person student reviews on professors — giving details in elements ranging from level of difficulty, typical grading, homework policies and overall quality — is seen to be helpful by many Salisbury University students. Professors, however, may not see it that way.
Nearly every student has at least heard of Rate My Professors. Students can use this website to rate a professor and read past reviews. Many use Rate My Professors as a first stop for scheduling classes.
Students’ views on the website are generally similar.
“I always check before I sign up for a class,” said SU student Sheridan Sargent. “I will never just sign up for a professor I haven’t had before or looked into.”
SU junior Maliyah Martel also had a positive view of the site in the way that it is relatable to her demographic.
“I feel like it gives you a real look into how the professor is,” Martel said. “People our age are using it so you can relate to what they’re saying.”
After giving out a survey around campus conducted by members of The Flyer staff , the results showed similar opinions.
The survey consisted of the following questions:
Do you use Rate My Professors? Do you think Rate My Professors is an accurate resource? Have you ever changed a class after looking on Rate My Professors?
The sample only represents a small percentage of SU's campus. However, results revealed that most students use Rate My Professors to look at ratings, but they do not often write reviews. Also, results showed that many students have changed their classes based on a professor’s rating.
The general consensus for students is that Rate My Professors is a helpful resource; a professor’s perspective is slightly different.
“I don’t know if it's ethical or unethical,” said Catherine Jackson, an interdisciplinary studies professor in the Fulton School of Liberal Arts. “But I don’t think it’s an effective way to rate professors because there is a lot of bias in it. It can also lead to grade inflation. Students will rate professors better when they give them a higher grade or give them less work.”
Dr. Nikolas Busko of the Perdue School of Business agrees that the tool is not a valid resource for students.
“It’s individual people making comments, so it’s as valid as any other message board, or as valid as Twitter or any other social media, ” Busko said. “It’s interesting to look at, but I don’t consider it a very valid tool.”
Most professors prefer the formal course evaluations given by the university over the harsh or biased comments that may come with Rate My Professors.
Evaluations are given out at the end of every semester in hopes that professors can make improvements based on their students' comments.
“I always try to change due to the evaluations of the school,” Dr. Andrea Presotto in the Henson School of Science said.“I have looked [at Rate My Professors] once or twice, but I think I try to change more according to school evaluations than the website. Since it’s made by students that I teach, I think it’s okay. I just sometimes think, especially when I started here the first semester, that the evaluations weren’t fair.”
No matter the ethics or inaccuracy of the website, it seems that Rate My Professors will continue to be used by college students in the long run. The question remains: Can you truly sort the useful comments from the bitter ones?
By NATASHA HAWKINS and DALENCIA JENKINS
Featured photo: Rate My Professor image.