Rec'd with a technical glitch. --gw
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 29 Jan 2012 15:52:26 -0500
From: Scott Barker <[log in to unmask]>
To: Open Lib/Info Sci Education Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: RE: RateMyProfessor.com
At the University of Washington Information School as it is elsewhere,
teaching is an extremely important factor to consider when evaluating
faculty for tenure and promotion (as is their research and service).
Like most universities, student evaluations take place at the end of each
course through an institutionally approved set of forms and processes.
The evaluations are looked at by the chair of each program, our assistant
dean for academics, and of our dean as part of the annual merit review
process. For guest faculty those evaluations may be looked at more
regularly, especially if the person is new to teaching for us. For
faculty up for tenure and promotion, students and alumni are also asked to
give additional feedback on teaching beyond the standard course
We are aware that students use sites like "RateMyProcessor.com" but we
don't look at them as part of our standard processes. Some of our faculty
look themselves however. Some like what they see and some don't as you'd
expect. I'd also note that some of our very best teaching faculty
occasionally will have a negative comment posted there, and they sometimes
agonize too much over one negative statement. But that's good to me,
because that shows how much they care.
My PERSONAL opinion is that the vast majority of our faculty do a good
job, and I don't object to sites like "RateMyProcessor". We have nothing
to worry about. I am chair of our undergraduate program and I actually
find very few students that like a faculty member because the "class was
easy" or the professor tells good jokes.
In general, when I look at our institutional student evaluations, for the
most part students are very fair. The faculty that do the best on student
evals are typically the best teaching faculty we have if I had to rate
them myself. And it isn't because they are "easy". Instead it is because
they are passionate, they get students excited about the material, they
engage students, the class is well organized, their knowledge is
up-to-date, they bring past professional and research experience into the
This is harsh, but I'd suggest that if a faculty member is worried that
most comments on "RateMyProfessor" are negative, they should look hard at
themselves and the content of their course. Like I said, you can never
please everyone in a class and everyone will get negative comments. But
if the faculty member and the class routinely are evaluated poorly, the
problem is not likely to be with "RateMyProfessor", it is likely to be
with the class or instructor.
University of Washington
From: Open Lib/Info Sci Education Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gretchen Whitney
Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2012 5:29 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
A concerned jESSE reader brought this site to my attention privately and
asked that I bring it to your attention for discussion.
I have not found very many SIS faculty on this site, but I have found a
The reader wonders how your institution handles such student evaluations
on such a web site, and how these evaluations factor into tenure decisions
and other faculty evaluations. The reader notes the differences between
course choices by students (which these appear to be having writ large),
and peer evaluations, but also notes that there is a connection between
the two: if students don't sign up for your courses, that is going to
have a bearing on your evaluation by peers.
The reader also wonders how you as an individual and as an institution
balance negative reviews ("He asked us to do too much work!!") with
positive reviews ("She's really sexy", "He tells great jokes", "Attendance
isn't mandatory because he posts his lectures online", "Easy!!, "Homework
was not collected" "I only came on test days".
I and the reader would appreciate your comments on this site.
And I and the reader would appreciate your comments on such student
evaluations of professorial performance.
Gretchen Whitney, PhD, Retired
School of Information Sciences
University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 37996 USA [log in to unmask]