By Allysia Fine
Students rate professors they have strong opinions about, giving either negative or positive feedback about classes they’ve attended.
Employees at AskAC, the campus information department, said there is no way for students to view evaluations of professors online or in hard copy. Dr. Daniel Ferguson, English department chairman and a professor, said there was a meeting a couple of years ago where AC staff and faculty members discussed the possibility of putting the reviews online for students to access publicly.
“The assessments should be available to students online due to the Freedom of Information Act,” said Dr. Brian Farmer, a political science professor.
Through the FOIA, public entities such as universities are subject to full disclosure of public information. However, the reports are not online, something Ferguson attributes to incomplete information.
Ferguson said if more students were to participate in the evaluations each semester, AC might be more inclined to post the reviews online. Currently, with such a small sample size, the results would be distorted.
“Our numbers for student participation in reviews are low; therefore statistically, there will be inaccurate results,” Ferguson said.
Students Stephanie Thompson, an education major, and Angel Foster, a general studies major, said they aren’t sure how to access reviews AC was rumored to have available, but both said that in the past, they have used a site called “Rate My Professor” to evaluate professors.
The site, ratemyprofessor.com, boasts 14 million ratings, with reviews from 7,000 schools and of 1.3 million professors. Students can search for instructors by name and school and see how others rate them and their classes. An overall rating includes how the instructor stacks up in ease, helpfulness, clarity in teaching and how interesting they are. There’s even a place for students to rate the professor’s attractiveness: “hot” professors are awarded a chili pepper.
“It is very useful,” said nursing student Delia Gonzalez.
She uses the site before she signs up for courses. The site gives students the ability to survey and analyze professors at any time. Graphic design major Garrett Appling, like Thompson, Foster and Gonzalez, said “Rate My Professor” has the potential to be helpful.
After students have completed a course, they can log in, find their course number and submit their own rating. The site gives them the ability to add comments in addition to their rating. Still, some instructors feel the site could do more bad than good.
“What difference does it make?” said Farmer of the reviews.
Farmer said with sites such as “Rate My Professor,” “You are going to get a dichotomy,” so all surveys potentially could have a stark contrast of feelings or ideas. Students using the site to pick a professor are likely to get only extremes on each end of the spectrum. Other professors say the site could be helpful for instructors who want to improve their course materials or teaching style. The assessments can help them critique their courses and make them better.
“When I see a review that bothers me here and there, I think of things to work on,” Ferguson said.