Lehigh faculty members respond to ‘Rate My Professors’ comments

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Professors can make or break a class. They are in charge of what you learn, your grades and ultimately what you can take away from a course.

In recent years, students have taken the process of choosing a professor even more seriously. As a result, the website Rate My Professors has become a staple when it comes to the academic community. Students log onto the website, check the ratings and comments and, based on those standards, decide which professors suit them the best.

Rate My Professors is an online database that gives students the chance to look up ratings of professors at universities and colleges. According to the website, “RateMyProfessors.com is built for college students, by college students. Choosing the best courses and professors is a rite of passage for every student, and connecting peers on the site has become a key way for millions of students to navigate this process.”

When a student logs onto ratemyprofessors.com, they search for specified schools and professors. The ratings are based on easiness, helpfulness, clarity, rater interest and grade received. Students are also able to leave comments, which provide more detailed descriptions about their experiences.

A few weeks ago, Lehigh faculty members read exactly what students have written about them on the site, and it was all caught on tape in the Digital Media Studio. Most of the professors reacted by laughing at the comments or by explaining why students might be critical of them. The faculty members included in the video were from all different departments, ranging from engineering to economics.

The video shows professor Monica Miller, assistant professor of religion, reading one of the reviews about her first-year seminar.

“’Too difficult and too much work for a freshman seminar. Three papers, a midterm and (a) 10-page final paper,’” she read.

Her reply: “Really?”

Miller counted on her fingers the four books she currently has in press and the two lectures she needs to prep for her classes. Miller also added that she needs to wake up at 4 a.m. before her classes.

After finishing reading during the segment, she simply smiled and handed the index card listing the comments back to the cameraman.

Economics professor Todd Watkins read one of his reviews, which stated that he is “useless to the IPD program” and “a moron.” His response was insulting to his sensibilities because he is the professor who started the IPD program.

Students have reacted in different ways to the Rate My Professor website. Sara Mason, ’17, said it depends on different reasons why she sometimes does and does not check the site. One of the main reasons is her friends.

“Sometimes I check the site, but usually (I) check with my friends first and see what their opinion is on certain professors,” Mason said.

Victoria Ricles, ’18, has had a different experience with Rate My Professors. Since Ricles is a first-year student, she did not have a great deal of flexibility in choosing her classes, but said that she did check the website when she found out who her professors were.

“One professor had a negative review, and it made me a little bit (nervous), but I feel that the professor is not as bad as the review was,” Ricles said.

Ricles said she is going to make sure she checks the website in the future before deciding on what classes she is going to take.

The fact is that the majority of students do, in fact, log onto the site and check the ratings, but in some cases do not make reviews based on their own experience after the class is finished.

Gabriella Pomerantz ’18, likes the fact that all her professors had positive reviews.

“So far the reviews are accurate,” Pomerantz said. “All four of my professors got positive reviews, but I certainly will check the website in the coming semesters.”

Whether the reviews are accurate or not, students will keep checking reviews and the ratings before they sign up for their classes. At the end of the day, some professors will receive good reviews and some bad, but if a student truly believes the negative reviews they might be missing out on a great experience in their college career.

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