Professors respond to ratings site

By Cassandra Mariotti

cp1_02110909592Each year, millions of students are logging on to use the website Rate My Professors.  Students use this website to choose which professor they want for the particular class they are going to take.  The website has been around since 1999 and at least 6.5 billion users log on. The website offers ratings to over 6,000 schools.  Students like to be ensured that they will have a good professor, but what they fail to realize is the type of affect it has on the professors.

There are a lot of pros and cons to the website. We as students are not always sure if people are telling the truth about certain professors. For example, one might say that a particular professor is a horrible grader, or gives too much homework. Another might say that the same professor is only a horrible grader because no one in that class tends to pay attention. There are always two sides of every story, but the only sides students care about, are comments that the student write towards the professor. How are students, who are scheduling their classes, ever able to know the truth if they don’t give those professors a chance? There are times when you read something about the professor and it turns out to be true, but there are also times when students are just writing biased feelings because they couldn’t keep up with the class. Many students said they feel as if this website is their safety net to survival; that they’re only going to be safe for the semester if they check out who is a nice professor and who is a mean professor.

There aren’t only negative aspects of this website; a lot of critiques that people write are sometimes true. It’s mainly for students to help out one another, and give negative and positive advice. Professor Tamara Slankard, a literature professor here on campus, said she had mixed feelings about the idea of students going on a website and picking out teachers they wanted to have.

“When I first started teaching I would look at the site all the time to see if the students liked me,” Slankard said. “I think it’s better for students to talk about the teachers to each other rather than looking at the site.”

Slankard said she is not against the site, but she said she feels that there are other ways to go about the situation. When asked if there was anything that might worry her about this website, she said, “I worry if the student’s ratings would ever affect a teacher’s tenure.” From hearing that response, is it possible for a professor to lose their position because of how a student feels?

Rate My Professor is not a website that only gets ratings on professors’ attitudes or how much homework they give, but the site also rates how good looking a professor is and alows ratings by students on professors’ qualtity of instruction.  If a professor is very good looking, they will get a chili pepper next to their name. If their teaching is of good quality, they will have a yellow smiley face. Professor Slankard stated, “I want a chili pepper next to my name.”

In all humor, I guess anyone can say they would want a chili pepper next to their name. There are a total of 1,016 professors on the SCCC rate my professor website. You have to wonder if every professor were to look at their ratings, would they change who they are to come across differently to students?

Professor Linda Barber, a cultural anthropology professor here on campus, also had some feelings to contribute to this matter. Although Barber said she does not look at this website, she went on to say, “I feel that it is a good concept, but I don’t think it’s working. I don’t feel it’s doing what it is supposed to be doing.” This website is not a favor to all, but no one said the website should disappear either. “The people that love you will take the class, the people that hate you will not,” Barber said.

Students will rush to see the ratings on each professor before they make their last minute decisions. Rate my professor will always be around for students to rate their teachers, but the question is, will the teachers always be around to see what has been said?

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