Rate my Professors, a review platform founded in 1999 featuring 1.7 million professors, 8000 schools, and over 19 million ratings, is now commonly used by many students as a trusty source for reference. As students prepare for a new semester, many rely on the website to choose future courses.
“I have been using the website since the beginning of my freshman year, and I think, to some extent, it's an effective tool that helps students choose future classes. However, Rate my Professors seems to be inaccurate sometimes and students should be aware of. I took a class with a professor and she was really dedicated to helping students earn good grades while her online ratings reflect something opposite,” first-year Tom Nguyen said.
According to some DePauw professors, the incognito website raises many problems and DePauw students need to learn how to use the website effectively, as well as consider alternative references.
“I tell my students that when picking classes, they do need to consider the professors. DePauw is a small school and the connection with faculty can be critical so it’s worth investigating before you commit to a class with any professor,” Lori Miles, professor of arts and art history, said. Miles adds that while the website can be helpful, it should not be the only source of reference to consider as it may foster polarizing opinions.
Professor of media studies Jonathan Nichols-Pethick also shared his thoughts on the forum. “I don’t think it’s a very accurate description of the classroom experiences for many teachers. Mostly because the people who are most inclined to post on there are either really like you or really don’t like you. The ones I have seen of myself, I don’t recognize what I’m like as a teacher, both good and bad,” Nichols-Pethick said.
“Teachers need to approach the classes like new experiences. Each class, even with the same title, will always have something new and professors will learn to change their delivery methods based on students’ evaluations. Rate my Professors wants to box us in, gives us numbers and scores us, which makes changes unrecognizable and I don’t think that’s how things should work,” Nichols-Pethick said.
When asked about sources for students to consider as a reference before taking future classes, Miles and Nichols-Pethick shared some suggestions. “I think it’s a good idea that professors post their office hours to the departments’ website. I would welcome all the students considering taking my class coming and talking to me about their questions. Students should meet directly with their potential professors to get a better sense of things,” Nichols-Pethick said.
Nichols-Pethick also suggests that students go to every class with an open mind, meet everyone without worrying too much about the professors’ characteristics as he believes every teacher is here because they are good at and love what they are doing. On the other hand, Miles encourages students to design and put into action a website that focuses on overall classroom experiences besides professors' teaching methods.