Professor Rating: Is It Students' Business?
In recent months the INOMICS blog has featured a series of posts about rankings of departments and universities. Traditionally, ranking has practically been an academic discipline in itself, with big names like QS, the Times Newspaper and in Economics the citation listings compiled by REPEC, dominating the field. However a trend towards a kind of “crowd-sourcing” of ranking has started to appear. The Shanghai ARWU was one of the earliest major ranking bodies to introduce this, but others are following.
Perhaps in some ways ahead of the game in this regard are the so-called “professor-rating” websites. These rely almost completely on input from (former) students and, much like hotel or holiday comparison sites, in many cases combine written comments and feedback with a fixed numerical rating system.
These platforms are not without their fair share of controversy, however, with criticism focusing on the anonymous nature of the feedback and the difficulty for lecturers to respond on some platforms. Some professors have also suggested that critical comments, especially when factually incorrect, may leave the person commenting and/or the hosting platform open to legal action.
Below are some links to leading professor ratings websites. If you use these or other services, or have an opinion about the merit of online rating platforms in general, unlike some professors, we welcome your comments at the end of the article!
Rate My Professor
Ratemyprofessor.com is probably the highest profile professor-rating site currently online. Focused on the USA, it also covers colleges and universities in Canada, the UK and some major universities in other countries too.
Ratemyprofessor.com allows users to post an anonymous rating according to a range of factors including easiness, friendliness and clarity, as well as write a comment. There is also an option to flag “hot” professors.
An interesting feature of Ratemyprofessor.com is the ability for professors to respond to the ratings and comments about them. In addition, there is a “Professors Strike Back” video section, where professors are filmed responding to a selection of the critical comments posted about them.
For many students in North America, Ratemyprofessor.com is the authoritative source for information about what to expect from the lecturer in a forthcoming course, and may increasingly become so for students in other countries.
Other organisations have also used the data on Ratemyprofessor.com to compile lists of the top universities according to professor ratings, implying perhaps that these platforms are starting to be taken more seriously by the wider academic community.
Meinprof.de is a German language professor-rating website covering universities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. To view the feedback and ratings, users are required to register for a user-account.
The listings are comprehensive, covering most if not all German higher-education institutions, and the site seems to be well used, with over 400,000 ratings for around 100,000 courses and just under 50,000 professors.
Myedu.com is more of a network and education planning website than a pure professor-rating site. The website requires signup, and is also heavily USA focused, although some information is available for Canadian institutions as well.
Students are able to give feedback on a professor or a course, and additionally can “recommend” the professor. It is not, however, a comprehensive rating system like those offered by other rating websites.
Rateyourlecturer.co.uk is a new British focused website, very much inspired by the American Ratemyprofessors.com. It is still growing, with many professor profiles still empty.
Interesting features include “league tables” for professors, courses, universities and cities, based on the ratings the professors receive. Recent press coverage makes this site one to watch.
Photo Credit: jvleis