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Do Universities and Professors Read Rate My Professors?

  • Sean 

Is it true that your professor is looking at the review you left on Rate My Professors? There is research indicating that they are and these ratings matter to them.

Do Universities use Rate My Professor?

A Study from the journal of Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education reports that while universities do not use Rate My Professor in an official sense the ratings still impact these institutions. This study reported that 84% of students use this website.

The reviews on sites like this have also gained importance because Rate My Professor, and other sites, sometimes rank schools using this data. Given that universities are competing for students these ratings are important to these institutions.

Do Professors Read Their Reviews?

Professor reading rate my professor reviews

So do professors read your reviews? Do they care about them?

A study in the journal of Computers in Human Behavior discussed that (anecdotally) most professors generally have a negative view of these reviews or do not take them seriously, especially compared to university-administered course evaluations. This does seem to hold true in many of these forums as well. If you have ever looked at a site like Reddit or Quora you will see that there is no shortage of professors discussing their reviews in this way.

Does this really mean that they don’t value these reviews? The previuos study also discussed that on the surface many professors do not seem to care about these reviews but under the surface, they might. In their experiment, professors seemed to value Rate My Professor ratings equally to university-administered student rankings.

Becuase of this, these ratings can affect professors quality of work. Poor ratings can affect self-efficacy (A professprs confidence in their teaching). Poor ratings could lower motivation to improve and faciliate student learning. Professors are people too and you should not leave negative reviews without justification.

Do ratings affect professors?

Is it possible that ratings affect professors even though they are unofficial? A study from the American Journal of Criminal Justice discussed that, even though these ratings are not used officially, they can still directly affect the career of the professor. low scores can affect the renewal of a professor’s contract and make tenure less likely for assistant professors.

New professors will grade more easily in their first few years because of this (this is something that I have actually seen personally a few times as well).

Finally, ratings indirectly affect how the university treats the professor. A study from the journal of Social Psychology of Education discussed that these ratings likely affect enrollment into a professor’s class. Enrollment affects performance reviews and raises. lastly, low-enrollment professors can have their courses canceled at the last minute.

The takeaway is If you are going to leave a review of a professor, make sure that your opinion is justified. Your rating will likely contribute to their career progression in some way.

Is Rate My Professors Accurate?

Dart Board showing the concept of accuracy

There is a lot of discussion and debste as to whether Rate My Professors is an accurate system. Firstly it is worth saying that Rate My Professors scores do track with university-administered student evaluations. So if you believe in university assessment, you should probably believe in Rate My Professors ratings as well.

However, there are all sorts of things that can affect the reliability of these ratings. You should be aware of these. However, the research articles on this issue seem to either strongly support or refute their accuracy. I think its safe to assume that you should not be taking the ratings at face value. This is the safest option and it has held in my experience.

Voluntary response bias

Rate My Professors is known for having voluntary response bias. Research indicates that the people who go to the site are people who either rate very highly or poorly. The silent majority of students who do not have such strong feelings ratings are not represented on the site.

Anyone can post ratings

Another issue with the site is that anyone can post a professor review. This means people who never took the class can posts. Professors can write fake positive reviews. Finally, faculty members could even write negative reviews of each other.

One person can post multiple times

Although Rate My Professor doesn’t allow multiple ratings from a single IP address this can easily be gotten around by simply using another device or a VPN.

The Takeaway

Professors are people too. They read what you say about them online. Their ratings affect their future progression and potential advancement. If you are going to leave a review, make sure you are being as fair and objective as possible. Finally, when reading these reviews, take them with a grain of salt.