Ratemyprofessor.com: A professor’s report card

Since the early years of a student’s education, most report cards stare back into three faces: the teacher, the student and then the parent, angry or proud.  What if it were possible to publish teacher report cards, for not three,  but for millions of people to see?  Now, it is.RateMyProfessors.com is a Web site that allows students to give professors a scorecard, similar to the class evaluations administered at the end of each semester, but with one difference — they are public.There are 864 UVM professors currently ranked by students, according to the site. The rating key ranges from Good Quality to Poor Quality, including a chili pepper for the additional “hotness” rating.  All ratings accumulate to create the professor’s scorecard, according to the site.”I’ve looked at [RateMyProfessors] a couple of times, but I don’t base my classes on it,” sophomore Gianna Vannelli said.  Some, however, do use the site to choose classes.”I looked at it for my Spanish 101 class,” sophomore Maria White said. “There were two professors, and I heard one was easier than the other.”Paul Martin, a professor of English at UVM, said he views alternative methods to picking classes as a sounder source of accurate information.”My sense is that the best way a student here can judge as to whether a class is worth taking is to talk to friends and fellow majors who have taken that class before,” Martin said.”My general impressions of the site were that the categories they chose to cover, such as how easy a class was or how ‘hot’ the professor is, aren’t really categories that will be of much help to the prospective student,” Martin said.UVM professor of history Abigail McGowan questions the accuracy of the site.”Essentially, my objection to the Web site is that it takes what should be a really useful tool — students sharing their responses to different professors — and makes it totally unreliable,” McGowan said”I’d be surprised if there were any profs here who don’t know about the Web site,” Martin said. “My guess, too, is that all of us have looked at least once or twice at our own ratings — and those of our colleagues.””No, I’ve never looked up my ratings — terrifies me to think about it!”political science professor Bob Taylor said.  Time Magazine included RateMyProfessors.com in its “50 Best Web sites of 2008,” by Anita Hamilton, but the site has some competition: PickaProf.com, Professorperformance.com and Studentreview.com.”The questions about how accessible or fair that respondent considers the prof are important, but the ratings I saw for me and others weren’t numerous enough to give a student a good sense of the professor,” Martin said.