‘Rate My Professor’ An Unreliable Source of a Lot of Information

Vaughn Lawrence

Enter at your own risk.

Some visitors will be misled. Some visitors will find the information they were looking for. And some will find a flaming hot chili pepper.

Ratemyprofessors.com is an open forum for students to express their opinions about teachers at any institution, including Glendale Community College.

Choosing the right professor has always been an issue of importance for college students, and now that classes are being cut there are fewer options available. Since students have a decreased amount of options picking the right professor is more important now than ever.

To find ratings for GCC’s professors all a student needs to do is enter the aforementioned URL into a web browser, and then click on the button that says “Find a School.” From there enter “Glendale Community College” into the given field, and press enter. After this make sure to choose the correct GCC, and not the one that is located in Arizona.

The ratings, good or bad, are now at the fingertips of anyone who could follow those simple instructions. There are 1,075 ratings for professors, and the average rating for GCC professors is a 3.39 out of five.

Is Ratemyprofessors.com a fair and effective way of finding information about instructors at GCC?
The answer is yes, and no.

After cruising the website for a while, any web surfer will begin understanding the rating system. This system is compromised of five categories that make up the “overall quality” rating. The categories range from one to five, and are as follows: easiness, helpfulness, clarity, and rater interest. There is also a hotness rating, but that does not affect the “overall quality.”

This system has its own strong points, and weaknesses. A professor can be helpful, but are they available? Do they return e-mails and phone calls, or are they in their office at the times they have listed on the syllabus?

The rating system is missing another key aspect, and that is do students learn? Students are at GCC to learn afterall. If they enroll in classes that do not mold their minds in some way, then what is the point?

These ratings can tell a GCC student the basics about a professor, but leave much to be desired.

After developing an understanding of how professors are rated, a visitor of this website should start to notice the comments from students. These comments can be plagued with spelling errors, in all capital letters, or both. There are ratings that appear sincere, but others seem to be written out of anger and distaste for the grade that the reviewer received.

How does one sift through all of the information ratemyprofessors.com has to offer? There is no better way than to ask the students, professors, and administrators of GCC.

Jennai Pellerin and Mark Dunnigan are both students that use the website. Pellerin said that she uses the website “because I can get a lot of people’s opinions in a short amount of time.”

Dunnigan said that although he uses the website, “I haven’t found it to be too accurate. I think it is worth a look, but you have to take it with a grain of salt.”

There is no doubt that each rating on the website is not completely correct. The ratings posted are opinions from students, and due to that fact, it is difficult to decide which are correct or incorrect. Professors who have poor ratings might turn out to be exactly what a student is looking for.

Pellerin discovered one of her favorite teachers by not following the ratings that the website had given. She said, “The reason why students didn’t like her was because she pushed students to excel.”

Ratemyprofessor.com is a tool. How useful of a tool it is relies completely on the individual student.
“It’s a good tool if you need a vague idea, but I wouldn’t rely on it too heavily,” said Pellerin.
Dunnigan said that for the website to be a tool, students have to understand how they learn, and what professors they will work best with.

Neither Pellerin nor Dunnigan said they would tell a friend to use ratemyprofessor.com as advice for how to choose a professor.

Pellerin said “ask around, ask counselors” and “ask people you trust.”

Professors and administrators are as aware of ratemyprofessor.com as the students are. There are professors who choose to look at the website and see what students have said about them and others that completely ignore it.

No matter their opinions on the website, professors understand it is a tool, but also that the ratings are hot and cold with no happy medium.

Professor Mark Maier said that on the website one would “see the people who are motivated to post.”
Maier believes that the number of ratings is important in determining how valid each teachers rating actually is.

As a tool, Maier said that ratemyprofessor.com is “one of many, and you’d be silly not to use that information.”

Interim Vice President of Instruction Mary Mirch is involved in the evaluation of professors by the college itself.

This process involves students filling out an evaluation form while in the class of the professor they are evaluating. The results are then given the professors after they have turned in their final grades.

Mirch said this about ratemyprofessor.com, “it can be a tool, it can be something to use, but there has been no validation of the rankings.”

As advice for students Mirch said that to choose the right professor they should “go talk to the faculty member and see if it’s a good match.”

Certain aspects bring down the website’s legitimacy, such as the hotness rating, which carries no weight in deciding what professor to take. The hotness rating might be just for fun, but picking a professor is serious. The open forum aspect also brings down the website because there is no regulation of what people say, and no means of determining fact from fiction.

Overall, ratemyprofesor.com is a website that can provide some information when choosing professors, but there are more viable sources that are readily available to students. The website is a jumping off point, and not necessarily conducive to decision making.

The helpfulness of the website can be summed up by one sentence. “I wouldn’t base my decisions solely on it, but it can be helpful,” said Dunnigan.