Well, it’s that time of year again. Spring semester is fast approaching and that means registration dates are being doled out and future classes discussed.
The time-honored tradition of choosing certain classes with a few good friends to sit in the back with and make fun of the kid who won’t stop watching anime on his laptop (that was me) sadly fades as upper-division classes accumulate.
As the selection of classes narrow down in the later years of college, it gets tougher to decide what’s best to take.
Instead of being able to play it safe with almost every general education teacher, upper division classes require a bit more fine-tuning when it comes to finding the right teaching methods for each student.
Luckily, there’s Rate My Professors. It’s not a secret to most college students, but surprisingly some don’t take advantage of the website for its incredibly useful information regarding teachers at nearly every college campus nationwide.
While the site shouldn’t necessarily be the only thing one looks at to decide their curriculum, it can be a great asset in finding an easier, more fitting path for next semester.
Unfortunately, the website isn’t so well revered by teachers.
Despite the usually honest nature of students reviewing teachers on the site, it seems to be that most teachers find the reviews skewed by ratings fueled by emotion rather than merit and don’t ultimately find anything useful to come from the site.
In an article on Slate, English professor William B. Harrison III said the rating systems are ultimately a waste of time, seeing it as “(a) sheer, unadulterated consumer model imported into higher education (that) makes me and others cringe.”
But however professors see the website, it won’t slow down the reliance that students have on online ratings.
Also, a professor’s opinion on the subject really, and as unfortunately cold as it is, doesn’t matter.
That said, there is one important discrepancy — the tendency for reviews to be only given by students that have had either a great or horrible experience. The lukewarm student might not care enough to even leave a review, which leads to a polarity of reviews.
This problem is entirely up to students. Instead of giving teachers their own reviews, all students who want to leave ratings should be required to give an online review via Rate My Professors at the end of each semester for every professor.
It’d be an easy solution and one that would help future students.
In a study published in the British Psychological Society, researchers looked into the the effect that positive and negative reviews have on individuals.
The study was conducted on undergraduates who were tricked into believing that a fictional coffee brand was environmentally friendly and health conscious. It was later revealed that the information was false.
The interesting bit is that many of these students retained favorable opinions of the fictional brand, despite their newfound knowledge, indicating that reviews are just as important as first impressions, which would suggest information found on Rate My Professors could have a more significant impact than one might think.
Obviously, students should be reading every review on the internet with a grain of salt. That’s rule No. 1 of internet perusings.
But looking to this tool as a way to guide oneself through the vast array of professors and their different methods of teaching is much easier than rolling the dice the first few weeks of school and hoping that first impressions won’t end up like the fictional coffee brands undergrads fell for.