The Phoenix Editorial Board discusses why rate My Professors is an unreliable tool for class evaluations.
Staff Editorial: Don’t Rely on Rate My Professors
When picking classes, Rate My Professors is a common tool used to evaluate which classes to take. The platform allows students to give honest feedback on professors anonymously, without fear of retribution. Methods of evaluation include rating the quality and difficulty of a class, as well as writing short descriptions justifying the ratings.
It sounds like a great tool — on paper.
The reality is Rate My Professors shouldn’t be relied upon to give an accurate picture of what a professor or class is actually like. Oftentimes, what you’ll find are two drastic ends of the spectrum.
Many reviews come from students who either love a professor or class enough to leave a glowing rating, or those who hate a professor or class enough to leave a horrible one. It’s rare to find an evaluation from students who have left a class with a neutral opinion, leaving the website void of reviews from students who had an average experience in a course.
Since the reviews are anonymous, the credibility of those offering them is dubious. You don’t know if the person reviewing the professor was a good student who aced it because they worked hard or a bad one who’s ticked off they got a bad grade. The website doesn’t even verify that reviewers took the class or went to the school in the first place.
In theory, the purpose of Rate My Professors is undeniably valuable — students deserve to hear from other students who can provide a glimpse into what a class is like from a similar perspective. Information like attendance policies and textbook requirements, which are included in some reviews, are useful in determining what classes work best for someone’s lifestyle and learning preferences.
In last week’s staff editorial, we recommended our favorite classes as spring registration approaches. While we’re passionate about the classes and professors we love at Loyola, we recognize this is a similar method of evaluation as the one used on Rate My Professor — we just happened to have extremely positive experiences and wanted to voice them.
Unlike Rate My Professors, we didn’t write those recommendations anonymously. Someone could easily write a letter to the editor challenging us on anything we said in that piece.
Students deserve a space to retrieve an accurate understanding of what a class or professor is like from a student perspective. But Rate My Professors’ unreliable and often dramatized illustrations of classes shouldn’t be the determining factor in someone’s decision to take a class.
Featured image by Aidan Cahill / The Phoenix