What to Know About Professor Rating Websites
A professor can seriously set the tone for your semester.
July 23, 2014
A professor can seriously set the tone for your semester. Anyone who has ever had either a great professor (hopefully you), a not-so-great professor (hopefully not you) or with the slightest bit of common sense can tell you that.
It’s also common sense to know that one of the best ways to learn about a potential situation is from someone who has already experienced it.
Applied here: you getting a review on a course from a real, live student who has taken that same course with that very same professor. Yep, it’s not rocket science.
Where it does become a little dicey is in determining what to do with the information given. Do you take their word as fact? Look for more student opinions? Ask to see their other grades to ensure they are a credible student source?
Check out the following guide to help you learn about popular professor rating websites and what to keep in mind while reading each site’s ratings and reviews.
What Should I Know Before Using These Sites?
Yes, professor rating websites can be a helpful tool, but there are a few things to keep in mind while using them:
• Students often take the time to rate professors when they have extreme opinions of them, whether they are positive or negative.
Take each opinion with a grain of salt because such extreme opinions are often biased and somewhat of an inaccurate portrayal of the professor’s teaching methods.
It’s also much more common for people to write negative reviews than positive. (Think about how much you complain about services versus complimenting them, for example.)
It’s always best to read a lot of reviews to see what the general consensus is and form your own opinion, rather than just taking one opinion as fact.
Remember, you’re just getting a one-sided story. Students who complain about poor grades but didn’t work to achieve higher ones doesn’t really reflect on a professor’s teaching style.
• Every student has a different idea about what qualities a great teacher should have.
Once you read plenty of reviews, try to read between the lines for, what sounds like, the most realistic portrayals of a professor’s teaching style.
Worst-case scenario: you can always drop or switch courses if you were completely off base in ignoring a particular review.
• When a professor is ranked high on the difficulty scale, it doesn’t mean you should not take the course.
Great courses can be challenging, too. In fact, some of the most boring classes are the easiest.
A difficult course and and bad professor, on the other hand, should be avoided at all costs. It’s smart to keep an eye out for courses ranked as difficult with professors that also have ratings that describe them as overly hard or as unfair graders.
However, if the professor is ranked highly in terms of being respectful and grading fairly, it’s not necessarily a class you should steer clear from. You may just need to work a little harder for your grade.
• It’s impossible to completely avoid difficult courses.
The best strategy is to choose the right difficult courses, with the right type of professor who will fit with your learning style. That way, the difficult courses won’t seem quite as bad as they could be.
So, go ahead, take a difficult course. You may actually end up learning a lot!
• Try to look for comments from students who have the same major as the course subject.
This actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
For example, an accounting major may dislike writing and, because they dislike the course material in a writing course, may rate a professor more harshly than, say, a journalism major.
However, if a journalism major were to rate that same writing course negatively, it should set off some red flags.
Popular ratings sites
Claiming the largest online destination for professor ratings, the site is “built for college students, by college students.”
According to their web site, users have added more than 14 million ratings, 1.3 million professors and 7,000 schools across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
This site claims to have “more than professor ratings.” In fact, they qualify their tool as professor recommendations.
They professor recommendations, as described on the web site, “let you choose the professors that work best with your personal learning style which should help make you more successful in your college classes.”
The recommendations include factors like study tips, exam types, lecture and attendance policies, the professor’s teaching style and effectiveness as well as the official school evaluations.
Koofers is somewhat of a hybrid between Rate My Professors and myEdu, because the site has valuable ratings included on myEdu, as well as student comments to help you make more informed decisions regarding professors.
The site is also useful in that it provides average class GPAs and additional information about exams, quizzes, class projects and, when applicable, extra credit opportunities.
Students are also able to detail difficult of the exams; whether or not the professor applies a grading curve and if any pop quizzes are to be expected. It’s helpful to know what to expect in a course and this type of information lends itself to just that.
On Uloop, you’re able to search college professors by your state, university, the professor’s last name or by department. With five-star scales, you’re able to see the ratings over three qualities: helpfulness, clarity and easiness, compiled with the professor’s overall score.
Student comments are posted next to each rating, which helps the reader understand why certain ratings may have been given.
Also, it’s helpful to see how many students have ranked the professor in total (for example, if a professor has one star but only one student has rated them, that’s something to think less about than if a professor has one star and 1,000 students rated them.)