RateMyProfessors.com is a Web site that helps college students choose their professors. However, it might be used just as much by professors. Professors can check to see what students think about their classes, if their classes are recommended, and even if students think the professors are “hot,” by use of the red chili pepper tool.
“It can be scary signing up for classes and not knowing what to expect with the teachers,” said Shawn Wester, a current SLCC student. “RateMyProfessors.com is especially useful when it comes to choosing between two of the same classes, but with different teachers.”
SLCC student Robby Gray used the Web site to choose his English class.
“I checked out all the teachers and found the one I think I’d like the most,” said Gray. “I’m sure teachers look at the site. But there’s nothing they can do about what people say.”
When asked about their involvement with the website, professors at SLCC wished to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, a few admitted to checking their ratings on the site.
“I know teachers who are addicted to it,” said one SLCC professor about the site. “I have known teachers who offered extra credit points for posting a positive comment.”
Some SLCC professors even look at their co-workers’ ratings on the Web site to see how they compare.
“I was like [while looking at the website], hey I know her. She is in my same department. How in the world did she get a chili pepper?” another SLCC professor said, while joking about the red chili pepper tool that indicates whether the professor is attractive or not.
However, professors at SLCC do not seem to take the ratings as seriously as the students who utilize RateMyProfessors.com. Students’ critiques from the Web site may not influence SLCC professors’ teaching techniques and habits at all.
“The feedback from students that I find most meaningful is that which they give me directly. I am most likely to integrate that feedback into how I teach in the future,” said one SLCC professor, who in fact has relatively high ratings from former students on the site.
There are 1194 total professors on the SLCC page that have been entered in by students. Specific professors’ entries range from just a few comments to several pages of critiques from former SLCC students.
Yet there is one major flaw with the site method that may very well affect the reliability of the professor ratings. There is a response bias. Those who are rating the professors are most likely those who had either a rather positive experience or a significant negative experience.
A professor at SLCC explained the possible risk concerning the website.
“It’s not a scientifically valid survey. It suffers from self-selection bias. Students who comment are motivated to do so usually because they really like or really dislike a teacher. So it doesn’t provide an unbiased sample. That makes the feedback less meaningful.”
Students should be aware of this bias when looking up possible teachers. But Wester still insists on the helpfulness of the Web site.
“I realize only a certain type of student would use time to rate a past professor there, so I take ratings with a grain of salt. But it’s nice to know what other people thought and also for students to have a place to vent,” said Wester. “I chose my Humanities teacher that way; picked the one with less homework.”
Meanwhile, some students remain completely unaware of RateMyProfessors.com.
Bo Glasgow, a current SLCC student, has never heard of the website before. “Sounds pretty cool though I guess,” said Glasgow.
The total average rating of professors at SLCC is currently 3.27 out of 5.0. That is .15 points higher than the average rating for professors at the University of Utah and .13 points higher than professors at Utah State University.