By Rene Thompson, Staff Reporter
The oft-used website RateMyProfessors.com, can help give students an idea of what to expect in an upcoming class, but what do instructors think about their scores on the site?
The CNM Chronicle asked instructors what they think of the site and whether it is a good tool for students.
The site’s rating system ranges from 1.0 to 5.0, with 5.0 as the highest. Categories include class quality, clarity, helpfulness, and easiness of classes, as well as a “Hotness” rating. These scores, except the “Hotness” score, are combined for an overall quality total.
Angie Alley, a Communications instructor, said she is humbled by the overall 5.0 quality scores given by her students.
“It is good to see that I am doing a good enough job to help my students and that they know I am here for them, and to help them grow in their educations specifically with communication,” she said.
Alley said she feels she is making a positive impact on her students.
Alley said she also uses the site to find out in what areas her students think she can improve, but that she objects to the site’s “hotness” rating.
“I wish the rating wasn’t there because we are not here to be objectified; we are there to learn, and grow, and be a part of a community,” she said.
Kristen Roush, Psychology instructor, has an overall 4.7 quality rating and said she thinks that while teachers could get some kind of valuable feedback on how students feel about their instructors; the site is not a reliable or valid indicator of effectiveness as a teacher.
“I don’t want to be an easy teacher, and I think I give my students all the resources they need to do really well. I give them explicit study guides that I go over very clearly with several tests and chapter reviews. I think it gives a more valid assessment of student’s comprehension, so I’m glad people have the perception that I am challenging but fair,” she said.
Roush said that she does not take the “Hotness” rating too seriously.
“I think it is innocent enough and I don’t feel objectified because it all depends on what the intention behind someone saying that really is, so it’s just kind of funny to me,” she said.
Stephen Andrews, History instructor, who has an overall 4.8 quality rating, said that he visits the site a couple times a year to see his ratings.
His criticism of the site is that students who bother to rate and comment will only do so when they really like or dislike a professor, so people are going to only see these two extremes, he said.
“I try to find the negative comments, because I try to notice in the sea of students who don’t enjoy my class in order to figure out and better understand what I am doing right and wrong, and be able to learn from it,” he said.
Andrews said that while he thinks he may be an easy professor, he is proud of his clarity rating on the website because he teaches political and economic concepts that are hard to understand.
Andrews said he is wary of the site’s “Hotness” rating, which he thinks is a shallow and academically inappropriate rating system.
Yvonne Darcy, History instructor, who has an overall 4.5 quality rating, said she has mixed feelings about the website.
“I think it is both good and bad, because it troubles me that students look for teachers that are easy even in their majors. I do think it is a good tool to figure out a way not to have to kill themselves in a class as well because all this nickel and diming has really got to go away in classrooms. Overall, I do think this technology is good thing,” she said.
Regarding the “Hotness” rating, Darcy said she can understand why students would be drawn to people who take care of themselves and enrich themselves in mind and body because America is a more visual culture.
Veronique Kaemerer, an English instructor whose overall quality rating is 4.1, said she likes that students can express their opinions, but expressed concern that students use the site as their sole source of information about instructors.
“I wouldn’t really rely on those ratings though, because anyone can get on there and rate someone without even having taken any classes,” she said.
Her goal is to help students write and think critically, she said.
“What matters most to me is that my students can write a decent, college-worthy paper, and if I have helped them accomplish that, then I feel I have succeeded in teaching them what they needed to learn from me,” she said.
Kaemerer said she found the “Hotness” rating on the site funny but a bit creepy.
“It’s just funny to me, because instructors go into their classes and are professional with their students. It is all about balance and making the class fun for the students, but it is funny and kind of creepy,” she said.
For more information about instructor ratings, go to ratemyprofessors.com.