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A version of the lecturer review website Rate Your Lecturer recently became active in the UK.

Do you know of any studies which consider to what extent students use this or any other review websites to guide their choice of university?

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This is necessarily incomplete, but I do recall a few studies on the correlation between ratemyprofessor.com rankings and student evaluations. Two such studies are:

These are disappointingly old though (2006/2007)

There's a more recent study from 2011:

As for other studies, your google is as good as mine :)

  • People still use RateMyProfessor.com? This was a thing when I was in undergrad, and I have a Ph.D now :) – Irwin Jun 26 '13 at 23:33
  • Well the studies are from a few years ago :) – Suresh Jun 26 '13 at 23:54
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    Hmm. I must say that the study does not impress me. Teacher evaluations by the students on the internet correlate with teacher evaluations by the students on a pencil-and-paper questionnaire? Not really shocking. Correlation coefficient of 0.68? Not really shocking. (that said, it's always good to read some real data rather than speculations). – Federico Poloni Jun 27 '13 at 7:09
  • What did you expect? They are not journalists, so it's not their job to distort numbers to impress people, right? – Volker Siegel Oct 26 '14 at 15:23
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Not confirmed by genuine research, but a very strong hunch based on some decades experience: I'd anticipate that having a few crank-negative reviews among mostly-positive is tremendously beneficial, for more than one reason. First, your "supervisors" (dept head, dean, etc) are often not so naive as to think that there'd be no complaints, so it's harmless. Even better, and more significantly for your day-to-day life, the rants of a few cranks may significantly inhibit other cranks from signing up for your courses. "For the wrong reasons", but to your benefit, etc.

This would apply currently to top-50-research-schools in the U.S., I think, and I'd imagine to most other places in the U.S., since most have not committed to any quasi-automated officially validated anonymous rating system, or any other rating system for faculty teaching.

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