Before going to MyNKU to sign up for his classes, Thomas Gerding makes a stop at another popular website first.
Gerding uses ratemyprofessors.com every semester during the registration season for Northern Kentucky University. The senior environmental science major said he and his friends religiously use the site to determine which professors are more suitable for their learning style.
“I’ll go on and see if there’s any outliers as far as teachers with a higher or lower score,” Gerding said. “I tend to stay away from the ones that are below a rating of 3.”
Rate My Professors is a website that is tailored to college students who want to rate their professors or look up evaluations of professors they may consider taking. Ratings are on a scale of 1-5, five being the best possible score. Ratings include an overall quality score, a would take again section, a level of difficulty section and even a hotness factor that uses the color of a chili pepper to determine the attractiveness of professors.
While some students find the site useful, others question the credibility of the evaluations.
Nick Peace, a sophomore computer science major, refuses to use the site as he said it does more harm than good.
“I feel like rate my professor is like Yelp — students only get on there to give bad rates,” Peace said.
Mark Bardgett, Regents professor of psychological science, said he doesn’t put much stock in the evaluations given on the website. He too feels that only students with strong feelings about the course bother to leave a comment.
“It’s usually students that really like the class or really don’t,” Bardgett said. “Depending on who you are, depends on how useful it is for you.”
Ellen Maddin, associate professor of education thinks the site can be a cathartic experience for students.
“It’s a good thing because if you have a bad experience you have a place where you can go and talk about it, but you have to keep in mind that that was one person and one moment in time,” Maddin said.
Maddin compared Rate My Professors to Tripadvisor or Yelp;; both are sites she uses frequently but knows evaluations aren’t always honest or fair.
“When I get on Yelp, I always take into consideration that the restaurant owner might have put some of those ratings on there,” Maddin said. “You need to make sure you’re getting accurate information. I know some professors who go in and rate themselves.”
Bardgett, similar to Maddin, thinks the site can be helpful and harmful to both students and professors. He warns students to err on the side of caution when using Rate My Professors.
“I think the issue is that it gives you the extreme,” Bardgett said. “If a professor is more challenging or more difficult they are going to be rated lower, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad professor. It just means that they are more challenging or the course is more challenging.”