Online, everybody’s a critic: Students sound off on



India Hines

Sharing your opinion is easy online. There’s Urban Spoon, Moviefone and yes, Rate My Professors.

It’s a website that allows college students to rate their college-level instructors based on easiness, clarity and helpfulness.

Students are also able to leave comments sharing their experiences in classrooms. Think of it as a who-to-avoid guide to college classrooms.

>“A professor might get a bad review because [a student] had issues with them,” said Sa’diyah Black, sophomore electronic media production major. “Or they might get a great review if they became personal with the professor.”

Black said professor reviews are too situational to be a deciding factor, but it’s better to cover all of your bases.

“I think it’s probably best to take with a grain of salt because you tend to get students who really liked it or didn’t like it,” said Kevin Adams, associate professor of history.

Adams used to read students’ reviews of him and other professors, but doesn’t anymore.

“I read it a lot […] but I stopped because I no longer saw the point,” he said. “Some of it would sound on point and some things would sound crazy. The things that sounded crazy would make me so aggravated, and it was not worth my energy.”

Adams said there are many reasons why professors do not like the site.

“The student expectation is the professor is there to serve them,” Adams said. “Many professors feel that a part of teaching is reacting to students and the students should also react to the professor. It’s just not a one-way street.”

Dan Burbules, senior exercise science major, said he uses the site frequently, but he takes into consideration individual biases and his personal interest in the class.

“I use the site as often as I can, and I do read the comments,” he said. “But I try to focus on if I like the class first before I read the comments.”

That’s because students might just take a class as a requirement. Either way, professors should utilize the “rebuttal” option, he said, which allows instructors to rebuff student complaints.

“I think professors should become aware of that so they can defend themselves,” Burbules said.

Adams said classes reputed as a breeze are not always the win-win they seem.

“If you see classes that are praised because they are easy then it might not be the best deal for you,” Adams said.

Students said the ratings could hurt the class enrollment if the professor receives a bad review. Adams, however, said instructors do not receive any direct consequences from Rate My Professors.

“If I was a student consumer, I would read as many comments as possible and try to figure out an average,” he said. “But odds are if most students are saying these things then you might want to take them into consideration.”

Contact India Hines at [email protected].