What do teachers think of RateMyProfessors.com?
Here's an example of why I hate it: Once, a student wrote that "the average student can't get above a C." So "average" means A?
I actually looked recently and saw that a student wrote that the assignments were confusing. In reality, however, after I give out an assignment sheet and explain it thoroughly, I ask the students to submit any question they have at all about it, and I answer each one. Every class before the due date involves me explaining an aspect of the assignment and then having them work on a part of the essay within class and/or out of class. They submit the parts online and I give them feedback. I have office hours and an email address. Any student who gives a review like this is one of the students who simply don't ask questions, don't submit the work, and/or don't show up to class consistently.
I've also seen reviews that say I'm biased when grading essays. All students throughout time have had a tendency to think that a bad grade means the teacher doesn't like them. It's a failure of the student to take accountability. The problem: I grade blind and can't see the name of the student whose work I'm grading. It's not even possible for me to be biased.
In short, the negative reviews can be easily traced back to student who are negligent and who refuse to take accountability for what they failed to do. In my class, the only ways to fail are A) absences, B) not completing work, or C) consistently ignoring directions and feedback. Hell, I give them a checklist of everything they need to examine on their rough drafts before turning them in. That's a gift they won't get from other teachers.
In short, yeah, sites like that piss me off and I would love to give evaluations of students.
I hate it.
Like most "rating" systems, disgruntled students are much more likely to use RMP.
In my experience, most of the ratings violate the site's terms of service. The site is essentially unmonitered, so good luck getting any help getting false information removed.
The lower the level of the courses you teach, the less likely students are to leave a rating, because they tend to be less tech-savvy.
I've had colleagues receive comments such as "she has sweaty armpits" and "his ass looks so good in tight jeans."
My favorite comment about myself says that I am "the worst instructor at the college." Reminds me of when my ten year old gets angry for not getting his way and tells me I am the worst mom EVER.
Once upon a time, a colleague of mine caught several other colleagues leaving fake comments about others in the department. Those comments are still on the site.
I've also seen students complain about an instructor over things which are completely out of the professor's control, such as course outlines of record and scheduling.
Fortunately, at the colleges where I teach, I've found word of mouth to be the strongest factor that drives students into my classes.
And the "hot" pepper thing is just so inappropriate.
So yeah, screw RMP. It's the worst site EVER.
It's pretty much useless. If you go look at mine (look under "Nancy Heckel" at APUS), you'll see that I have 19 ratings. That's less than 0.5% of the students I've taught since I began teaching with APUS in 2009 (I wish I were exaggerating, but that's actually a lowball). What can you learn about me from that 0.5% of my students? Not much, beyond the fact that pretty much everyone agrees I'm a tough grader. That doesn't tell you much about the rest of my teaching, though, and the comments left can probably tell you more about the students who left them than about how I teach.
Once you know the sorts of comment patterns that are common on teaching evaluations, it becomes fairly easy to chart out which students were expecting a course to be easier than it ended up being, or who expected instructors to roll over and give them an A for meeting the minimum requirements. You can also identify the students who were willing to put in the work, and who were probably the ones who actually read their assignment feedback (and maybe even asked questions or for more input).
But if you're trying to use RMP to figure out what professors to take? Just don't. It won't really tell you anything very useful. Instead, go on the recommendations of people you know (you'll have a better idea of what they mean by "hard grader" or "unfair"), or just go into a class with an open mind and a willingness to politely ask for more support/feedback if you need it. Doing the latter will take you far in my courses . . . for the students who are putting in the work and really engaging, you'll feel proud of what you accomplish no matter what grade you get.
Overall, I hate it and the concept of students rating professors.
First of all, students tend to remember the classes that they did poorly in. These sites are much more about bashing professors and getting revenge for poor grades than they are highlighting and lifting up good professors.
What bugs me the most about students evaluations is they are highly dependent on the ease of getting an A and little else. I had one student last year who even admitted as such. He explained how he had a very high rated physics instructor, all the students loved him. He gave him high ratings as well. Then his students took the next course in the sequence and did horribly because they didn't learn a darned thing in the previous semester. in spite of so many A's. In graduate school, I also knew another student who gave out A's like they were candy and he got high ratings as a result.
Evaluations should be done by fellow faculty members like in High School, when a department head would sit in on a lecture every quarter.
Like most of my colleagues, I don't put a lot of faith in that site. While I'm probably never going to win "most popular teacher" awards, I know I'm competent, provide good, solid information, and if students are paying attention, valuable insights into the field of Deaf Studies.
I teach over 100 students per semester, and have been teaching for 17 years now, more or less. So 17 times 200.... What's that? About 3,400 students over the course of my career so far. If you go to my profile on RMP, I think you'll find that I have less than 20 ratings. So out of more than 3,400 students, only 20 have either loved or hated (and that's pretty much what I saw, last time I looked, maybe 10 years ago) me enough to go on the site and leave a rating. In other words, less than 1 percent of my students have rated me. Hardly significant enough to really get a good picture of my teaching.
The ratings that are there are also pretty much the same - no new ones - so they are also about 10 or more years old, and my teaching has evolved since then. So what you see there is not necessarily indicative of how I teach now.
So overall, I ignore the site. I look at the evaluations I get from my CURRENT students. This gives me better information.
As a student, I found it helpful for a while. According to the site, the worst professor in the school was set to teach a required course in my upcoming semester. I petitioned to squeeze me into another section with a higher rated professor. No dice.
Turned out the lowest rated professor was the smartest professor in the college - by a mile. His was the most interesting, engaging, thought provoking, and meaningful course I'd taken. The C students in his class couldn't make heads or tails of his lectures, though.
His RateMyProfessor score was entirely because kids who were too dumb to succeed were not given participation grades. He was a fantastic professor, far better than many of the better rated teachers. That is how RMP taught me to not trust public opinion.
You rock, Dr. Ettlie!