RateMyProfessors.com has been an integral and essential tool in a college students arsenal for choosing classes. Despite the widespread positive opinions of students, what do professors think?
Faculty, like University of Rhode Island Economics Professor, and second highest rated faculty member, Art Mead, find Rate My Professor to be a transparent platform for students to receive information. “It is absolutely essential information for students to use to make informed choices,” said Mead, “It is crazy for a University to not provide information for students on instructors.”
Mead used to be in full support of making all the official IDEA course evaluations public to students. Now, he advocates for his students to use Rate My Professor not only to review him, but also to get information when deciding which professors to take. “It’s hard for me as an Economics professor to envision a system where students can’t get access to information to inform their choices. And if Universities won’t do it, then this seems to be the next best thing.”
However, not everyone is of the same opinion as Mead. Graduate Psychology Student Zachary Kunicki advocates to not putting too much stock into the comments of the website. Kunicki said that the website has an “incredibly strong bias against women faculty, and this is most prominent in Psychology, so why would I make any decisions on data I know are biased?”
Business Lecturer Brooke D’Aloisio agrees that Rate My Professor is a website of extremes. “Rate My Professor sounds like bias to me because who’s going to go on there? People who either absolutely adore me or absolutely hate me,” says D’Aloisio, “It is like the surveys you get at the bottom of a receipt and it’s about your experience. Well unless you have a really good experience or a really bad experience, you probably aren’t going to take the time to fill out a survey.”
Chemistry Professor Louis Kirschenbaum believes that the site’s ratings do not accurately reflect the entirety of what students will get out of a course. “Rate My Professor is so open ended, I’m either a one, or a five, or I’m a red hot chili pepper, or I’m not,” said Kirschenbaum, “That’s it, you get a general opinion about the person, not if you learned something about the course.”
Kunicki said that, “there’s no real way to objectively provide that kind of information.” Kunicki does not believe that the official course evaluations should be open to students because, “they are subject to the same biases that [Rate My Professors] is.”
However, Mead argues that Rate My Professors provides, “Important information that wasn’t being supplied and somebody stepped in and supplied it. I am very thankful that they did that. It’s the first time students have had information to inform their choice,” said Mead. “Students should have the right to have information on faculty.”
The debate is still ongoing, whether Rate My Professor is useful for professors or not. However, there is agreement that there needs to be some kind of system to provide information to students and faculty.
“Do the math; think about how much money you’re spending. You can go on Amazon and look at ratings and make informed choices, but there isn’t any for professors,” said Mead, “And that’s the message that needs to get out there.”