Q&A: How Dependable Are Teacher Rating Websites?

Answer: This is a great question. There are several websites that allow students to post comments about their professors and teachers. For some sites, you must know the full name of your instructor. However, more popular and/or larger universities are listed as a whole. This means you can review both comments on the professor and on the specific courses they teach. Let's address the pros and cons of using this information when choosing your classes.

There are several advantages to these websites. The first is that you have some information on the class and instructor. At most schools, you may find a teacher/professor bio and general class information on the school's website. On the school/professor rating websites, you might see specific comments on how the class is organized, work load of the class, how the teacher responds to students and the overall perception of the professor from students' point of view.

The main disadvantage of these websites is reliability. Individuals, including students, tend to comment more when they've had a negative experience. Therefore, if you look up a specific professor and see they have ten negative comments, this doesn't mean they are a horrible teacher. It means out of the hundreds or thousands of students they've taught, ten were upset enough to write online comments.

Ultimately, we all have our own individual experiences in school and in life. Think of an event or place (i.e. movie, concert, restaurant, etc.) that you've gone to. Haven't there been times when you had a great time or thought the food was really good and your friend didn't? The point is that we respond to situations and people differently. Don't cheat yourself out of an educational opportunity because you don't want to do "too much" work. Instead, think of it simply as a chance to learn from someone more experienced than you, and don't forget to leave comments.

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!