Faculty assess validity of Rate My Professors

By Sarah F. Griffin

After a long semester, many students share  their frustrations and gratitude for course instructors with other students online on RateMyProfessors.com, a site that allows students to rate their professors in terms of quality and difficulty on a scale of one to five stars, disclose their grade and comment on their experience in the course.

The site tags professors with the most common descriptions used for them and their classes, like “group projects,” “caring” or “get ready to read.”

As of Feb. 27, Bosah Ebo, a communications professor, who has worked at Rider for the last 37  years, is rated 3.3 out of 5 on the site, which was calculated from 73 ratings. Some students that rated him called him a “tough grader”and a professor that assigns “lots of homework” and wrote that “participation matters” in his class.

“The way I look at it is that it’s individual. It’s students putting their thoughts, how they think and how they feel. That’s fine — everybody has the right to evaluate someone,” Ebo said on the scoring system, adding that he didn’t look at the scores as good or bad but rather as someone’s view of him.

Ebo compared the site to the evaluations that he gives his students through the grades they receive in his class.

“Evaluations are oftentimes subjective. As a professor who evaluates people’s work, I understand that evaluations are very individual.” said Ebo. “My colleague might look at my evaluation of a student and see them differently than I do.”

Rate My Professors, in Ebo’s eyes, is a “wonderful thing” because it allows students to express their beliefs, adding, “However a professor chooses to look at it is irrelevant. The point is that it offers students a place to go and express themselves.”

In response to the opinion of some students on Rate My Professors that he is a tough grader, Ebo said, “I grade appropriately. I don’t think I’m a tough grader, but I can see someone saying that. In my view, if you do your work, you’re going to get a grade that reflects the work; if people do B work and expect an A, it’s not gonna happen.”

Ebo described his ideal student as someone who has a “commitment to improvement and a commitment to learning.” 

As of Feb. 27, David Dewberry, a communications professor, has a 4.4 out of 5, calculated from 29 ratings on Rate My Professors. The adjectives used to describe him most often are “hilarious,” “gives good feedback,” “tough grader,” “lecture heavy” and “participation matters.”

Dewberry said he hasn’t checked his rating on Rate My Professors in a while.

“I don’t remember when the last time I checked it was. I haven’t checked it in quite some time — I’d say maybe 2015.”

Dewberry said he didn’t have a strong opinion about his current score and doesn’t “put much value in it.”

Dewberry added he doesn’t tell jokes to make class more fun, but to “make class tolerable” when the material could get dry, and he encourages people to participate because “it’s boring to hear yourself talk so much.”

As for new professors who want to make a positive first impression, Dewberry said they should “Remember what it was like to be a student … treat students how you wish you had been treated.” 

William Totaro, an accounting professor, has a 4.9 on Rate My Professors, which he attributes to how he treats his students. 

“If I’m a student and I’m motivated … and the class made me comfortable about the arena I’m about to enter, then I would be happier if I could share the information about how the professor made [me] feel,” said Totaro.

While he doesn’t habitually check his rating on the site, some of his close family members have brought it up to him.

 “My daughters look at it,” said Totaro.“They said, ‘Did you know that you were on this?’ and I said ‘Yes.’ One of my daughters said, ‘They think pretty highly of you.,’” He described accounting students as “all over-achievers,” and said good students “show up on time, do what [they] say [they’re] going to do and say please and thank you.”

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