Rating your professors

Aimee Coons, Staff Writer

The fall semester is coming quickly to a close and registration for spring semester is here. As students gear up to register for the next semester, discussion begins with opinions on professors. For many students the general consensus on professors will dictate whether or not they will be registering for a course.

RateMyProfessors.com is a commonly used tool for many college students. The website is “built for college students, by college students,” according to the website. It is easy to navigate with a simple to use search bar and a 1-5 rating system. Students can rate their professors on overall quality, level of difficulty and leave comments. Additional information such as which course was taken, if a textbook was used, if attendance was mandatory, what grade the poster received and if the poster would take the course again is also available.

Over the summer, while registering for fall classes I used RateMyProfessors.com to cross reference information I had heard about different professors. This information along with the websites ratings determined my registration for certain courses.

Being an English major, I am thankful that overall the English department has excellent professors. However, some students find that having access to excellent professors isn’t always an option. Students find themselves in a position of picking the “lesser of two evils” when faced with poor and slightly less poor ratings for professors on RateMyProfessor.com.

What kind of defense do professors have against the all-powerful and judgmental RateMyProfessors? Ideally, the SELFI (Student Evaluation of Learning and Feedback for Instructors) questionnaires at the end of each semester. Professors push students to fill out the SELFIs for feedback on their courses and ask for comments on any way to improve.  

It would be beneficial for students to be privy to the overall results of the professors SELFIs. UND publishes SELFI evaluations per semester. SELFI evaluations for the summer 2016 semester showed how many students participated in filling out the SELFI and their level of education. The evaluation looked at factors of learning, engagement, organization and clarity, classroom environment, individual rapport, graded materials and overall opinon. For 2016 summer semester, there was an average score 4.29 out of 5.

Although the 2016 summer SELFI evaluation provides overall positive feedback for the semester, it does little to provide students with viable information. The SELFI evaluations for a professor can give students a larger view of how previous students actually felt after completing a course.

Having the power to rate a professor not only allows students to provide critical feedback but can also potentially cause great damage through rating sites like RateMyProfessor. Students must remember that professors are people too. They have lives and families outside of UND.

If a student has constructive criticism for a professor, it should be given through the SELFI survey. However, one should think carefully before posting to RateMyProfessor, and not use the site as a place to bash on a professor. Comments and ratings on RateMyProfessor should be posted in taste and with fairness.

Although RateMyProfessor is a great tool to help students decide whether to take a course by a certain professor, I encourage students not to let the ratings be the end all to their decision. One of my professors this semester was given a 2.2 out of 5 on RateMyProfessor. The comments on the professor were not favorable. I took a chance and took the class with the professor anyways. This professor is an excellent teacher and is dedicated to the success of students. Sometimes the best opinion or rating can come from yourself if you allow the opportunity to occur.

Aimee Coons is opinion writer for Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]