The good, the bad and the attractive Professors get graded by students

I really didn’t know any better.

Young, naïve and fresh out of high school, I signed up for university classes with no thought of planning for the future. If the name of a course sounded interesting, I was in. Did it help with my degree? No. Did it make my first semester difficult, frustrating and, at times, miserable? Yes.

Lesson learned:  While all men may be created equal, all professors are not.

I thrive in classes with heavy emphasis on discussion, regular due dates to keep me on track and approachable professors. Others may prefer extensive reading and optional class time. Trying to get classes that fit a certain learning style without any research is a hit-or-miss. Since the person in charge of a course can either make it or break it, I consider finding professors who will be conducive to each student’s success a vital part of college life.

Luckily, the wonders of the Internet are here to help out. Rate My Professors is an online database where college students give anonymous feedback about their professors. The bulk of the ratings come from three scales: helpfulness, clarity and easiness. These are all taken into consideration to form an “overall quality” rating.

When rating a professor, the student will also include information on a scale called “rater interest.” This allows readers to assess how seriously the rater took the class and whether or not there was a real investment in it.

In addition, there are often useful hints along the lines of, “He pulls all of his quizzes from the textbook, so stay up on the reading,” and “The tests are easy, but she’s not a lenient grader on papers.” This information is particularly valuable for those who already know their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom.

Just for fun, there is also a “hotness” rating, as signified by a chili pepper. Attractiveness is a valid measurement if eye candy helps ensure focus – or if it is a source of distraction. (UVU Legal Studies professor Carolyn Howard was rated the twelfth most attractive professor in the country last school year.)

It is not too late to adjust class schedules. Visit www.RateMyProfessors.com as a tool to ensure the best learning experience possible. The website runs exclusively through student ratings, so go back to add more rants and raves at the end of the semester.

One Response to "The good, the bad and the attractive Professors get graded by students"

  1. Timothy Hale   August 12, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Lindsay, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one of the glaring problems with students relying upon RMP for picking their instructor: adverse selection. You may be one of the undergraduates that weigh “easiness” equal to “clarity,” but alas, all undergraduates are not created equal. All too often a professor garnering straight 5s in the easiness category will fill a class with students striving to ensure straight 5s in their personal free-time category (or better yet, straight As on their grade card). Where does this leave the professors -especially in the prerequisite classes where most students have little “rater interest”- who actually make students work hard to earn their grades? I used RMP extensively as an undergraduate, but not one of my best professors ever received close to 5 in the easiness category. I just hope that the students who took them, worked hard,…

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