Rate My Professor | Are the anonymous ratings accurate?

The actor portraying professor Snape on-set.

Professor Snape may have likely gotten a set of very polarized ratings, if Hogwarts students used Rate My Professor. Image from Flickr.

When time comes to choose college class schedules, it can often feel like a shot in the dark – which is exactly where Rate My Professors comes in. Rate My Professor is an online service that allows students to anonymously rate and comment on the professors teaching at their colleges. The Rate My Professor system can be incredibly useful, but like most feedback systems, it has its flaws. No matter if you are funding your education with student loans or a mortgage loan modification, be sure you are informed about what you are getting yourself into.

Rate My Professor history

The web site Ratemyprofessors.com was created in 1999 and started as TeacherRatings.com. The web site has been sold twice and is now owned by MTVu, which is a subsidiary of the giant media company Viacom. The site was created with the idea of “enhancing your college experience, so you don’t end up taking classes that aren’t worthwhile.” Rate My Professor uses a 1-5 rating scale, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best.

How Rate My Professor is helpful

Because Rate My Professor is an entirely anonymous web site, the ratings on it are very candid. The comments on Rate My Professor can also be very helpful to students who have no familiarity with a particular teacher or college, and gives at least some “inside information” about the professors they may not be familiar with. With more students than ever returning to school, the ratings on Rate My Professor can be like instant loans – very helpful in the short-term.

How Rate My Professor is suspect

The Rate My Professor system relies on students who are willing to rate their professors anonymously. While this could encourage more candid feedback, the anonymous system has also at times provided what could be inaccurate ratings. One study showed the the easier a class was and the more attractive the teacher, the more likely they would get a good rating on Rate My Professor. Others have expressed worry that Rate My Professor listings often give good ratings to teachers that may not provide the most comprehensive, educational or quality courses available.

Should you use Rate My Professor?

Like most other review and ratings tools, Rate My Professor can be useful. However, it is important to approach Rate My Professors with the same skepticism as other reviews. It is important to realize that the ratings on Rate My Professors are not statistically accurate, and unhappy students are more likely to rate their professors than happy students. Schools with a small number of students are also more likely to have skewed ratings, as there are not as many students to rate each professor.

Sources:

Inside Higher Education
Rate My Professors.com

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