Opinion — Which feedback is more effective for student learning: Rate My Professor or NMU’s course evaluations?

EVALUATIONS — Professors are supposed to give students time in class to fill out course evaluations at the end of each semester. Which form of evaluation has more value to students: Rate my professor or NMUs course evaluations?
EVALUATIONS — Professors are supposed to give students time in class to fill out course evaluations at the end of each semester. Which form of evaluation has more value to students: Rate my professor or NMU’s course evaluations?
Megan Poe

It’s almost time to start signing up for fall classes again. Whether you’re a lower classman still jumping the Gen Ed hurdle or you’re onto your fifth year, there are always changes to the faculty schedule based on the semester. You could always have a professor you’ve never had before.

Rate My Professor is a great place to suss out the situation. The people who take the time to comment on the website have an opinion one way or the other that’s so strong they feel compelled to go through the trouble of letting the public know. Oftentimes, the consensus on the quality of the professor is inconclusive, so you have to wait to make that judgment yourself. While the Rate My Professor results aren’t the sole reason to find a different class, it’s still a helpful tool to know what you’re in for.

What should hold more merit than Rate My Professor, is the class evaluations at the end of each semester. When it’s time to fill those out, everyone’s anonymous reviews come out of the woodwork. After a few years of consistent evaluations, it should be clear what professors are helpful and supportive of learning and which ones need further guidance. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is the case. There needs to be a change to how class evaluations are used so that they’re more effective.

The wonderful thing about Rate My Professor is that it’s public and you can make a comment any time. Class evaluations just vaguely drift away after you submit them, and it’s uncertain who even looks at them and if they are receptive to your feedback. It’s usually the professors that students critique the most who believe that they have nothing to change about their teaching methods and grading.

Story continues below advertisement

No matter how many terms go by where student after student reports that “the professor refuses to put in any grades until after the last day of class” or “the professor doesn’t respond to our emails” the professor continues to conduct their class in the same way. It’s not that the course evaluations don’t accomplish anything, it’s that students aren’t accessibly informed about how they accomplish anything. From the student’s perspective, it’s hard to tell if they’re making a difference from term to term.  

The ambiguity in these practices makes me ambivalent about filling out the class evaluations at all. Professors heavily stress to be honest and write something qualitative, but for me, it seems to be wasted time. From professors who spew their unrelated personal political agenda, to professors who don’t let students miss a single class, students hope that by informing professors how they can improve the course, that they take our ideas into consideration. Hypothetically, if a student checks Rate My Professor to see a plethora of two-star reviews littered with sentiments of students claiming that a professor is condescending, why should that student have any expectation for effective learning in that class?

We have all written scathing evaluations to no avail. If the course evaluations were more public, similar to Rate My Professor, they could hold the professors accountable for listening to their student’s constructive criticism. We don’t leave evaluations to offend a professor, we write evaluations in the hope that the next set of bright-eyed students might have an easier time and get their money’s worth out of the class they’re paying for.

The ultimate goal is to learn, and if students can’t learn effectively because of a professor’s ignorance to feedback, then how can we assure that a change will be made? Similarly, if the evaluations were more public, the excellent professors would receive more recognition for their hard work and connection to students.  I think there are so many wonderful professors at NMU that go unrecognized. 

No matter the reviews, all the professors at NMU are passionate and knowledgeable about the subject they teach. There are no “bad” professors at NMU. However, students shouldn’t have to go to a third-party website like Rate My Professor to figure out what quality of education they’ll receive the next semester– it should come directly from NMU with public course evaluations so that there’s more open communication between professors and their students. That way, the learning environment is effective and fair for everyone. 

More to Discover