Koofers, Rate My Professors offer insights on professors

As the beginning of the semester progresses, students scramble to find out more about the professors teaching their classes: What are their tests like? How important is class participation? Do you really need to read the assigned material?

Student review websites such as “Koofers”:https://www.koofers.com/ or “Rate My Professors”:http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ are popular ways to find this information. These sites allow students to provide feedback on past courses and professors.

Katherine Meehan, freshman in Engineering, used Rate My Professors to look up all of her professors for her first semester of college. When she read that one of the instructors was so difficult that it was hard to get a high grade in the class, Meehan decided to drop it.

“As with any review, I realize when I am reading that this person (writing the review) is different from me … but I can figure out the general advantages and disadvantages of a professor,” Meehan said.

Though Catherine Mesyef, senior in LAS, said she also checked reviews on Rate My Professors while registering for classes, she took them with a grain of salt.

“I never listen to the statistic ratings,” Mesyef said. “I read the individual comments … to hear what types of experiences former students have had, while keeping in mind how circumstantial those could be.”

Dr. Susan Curtis, an accounting lecturer, questions the legitimacy of reviews on Rate My Professors as well.

“Although (I have) over 150 reviews on (Rate My Professors), I have taught over 150,000 students over the past 15 years,” Curtis said. “The size of the sample, along with the self-selection of students who choose to make postings renders the data on (Rate My Professors) or any other similar website questionable.”

Mesyef and many other students, however, still trust the website to give them an idea of a professor’s teaching style and whether they can do well in the class.

“The key is to find the tone of the comments most similar to your own,” Mesyef said.

Though the website Rate My Professors is utilized mostly by students, some professors take a peek at their profiles from time to time.

Dr. Ellen Fireman, a statistics lecturer, often checks the reviews students write for one of her largest classes, Statistics 100.

Though Fireman agrees that reviews are usually written by students who “either love you or hate you,” she noticed a correlation between her reviews on Rate My Professors and the ICES reports that students fill out at the end of the semester. Fireman pays attention to reviews from both sources, and takes them to heart.

Mesyef also recognizes the potential for professors that these websites offer, even if reviews come from students who “love you or hate you.”

“If the same negative reviews have been posted for multiple semesters, then yeah, hopefully a professor would have the sense to switch up some stuff,” she said.

Whether the reviews on websites like Rate My Professors are a fair representation of a sample or not, they offer students more information when choosing classes.

“The more information the students have access to about their classes, the better,” Fireman said.

To combat the limited reviews these websites have, Fireman offered another alternative.

“A more extreme direction would be for the University to release ICES scores and grade distributions of the instructors and courses,” she added. “If we did that, students wouldn’t have to resort to tabloid websites for information.”

_Zefan can be reached at [email protected]_