Making the Grade

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Published January 23, 2019
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The Montclarion
Sunah Choudhry fills out her course evaluations. Sheyla Baez | The Montclarion

The beginning of a new semester means the start of a new schedule. Ask any student about how they picked their courses, and they’re likely to mention Rate My Professors.

Students at Montclair State University still think it’s important to complete course evaluations, but consider the use of Rate My Professors (at ratemyprofessors.com) in hopes of being able to help other students for the upcoming semester.

Course evaluations are offered for each class that a student takes and are made up of a group of open-ended and multiple choice questions about the class and the professor. The survey is submitted anonymously and never disclosed to future students.

Lismarie Quiles, a sophomore majoring in communication studies, thinks course evaluations are important but feels that filling them out has no guarantee that professors will tweak their teaching methods.

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From left to right: AJ Nichols, Lismarie Quiles, Ashley Getchell and Sunah Choudhry submit evaluations on the last day of their communication theory class. Sheyla Baez | The Montclarion

Quiles explained that she chooses to use Rate My Professors at the end of the semester as a heads up for other students.

“I write reviews, even if I don’t like them,” Quiles said. “I’m like ‘If you think you’re going to this class [and] you’re going to get taught, that’s not what is going to happen.’”

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A screenshot of Montclair State University’s page on ratemyprofessors.com.

Rate My Professors is a website that provides a free platform to rate professors at college campuses across the country. Students are able to create their own ratings based on a professor’s level of difficulty and write comments on whatever they feel is important for other students to know. Unlike course evaluations, these ratings are public and open to everyone.

Vernard Gantt, a professor in the School of Communication and Media, believes that Rate My Professors is a great thing for students to use as a resource to pick their professors, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that students turn to.

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Professor Vernard Gantt from the School of Communication and Media values feedback from student course evaluations. Photo courtesy of Montclair State University

“I wish the students could see the evaluations that the other students wrote for the same professors to go along with Rate My Professors,” Gantt said. “This would give them the ultimate source.”

However, because Rate My Professors is so easily accessible, this leads to concerns over regulation. Gantt compared Rate My Professors ratings to Amazon ratings. He believes most people only write them when they have something really good or really bad to say. There usually aren’t many in-between ratings. Although Gantt thinks that Rate My Professors is a good resource for students, he said it should not be the only way a student measures the quality of a professor.

Gantt explained that course evaluations are also a way to actually get professors to be aware of what things worked and what things didn’t in order to enhance their classes.

“It helps to hone in to what [students] think is important,” Gantt said.

For AJ Nichols, a junior film major, course evaluations aren’t on his priority list. He’s done them before, but feels like professors don’t take them into consideration.

“I typically don’t [fill out course evaluations],” Nichols said. “After taking the same class twice and after everyone gave [the professor] the same exact feedback, he didn’t change anything.”

For this reason, Nichols prefers the use of Rate My Professors over course evaluations.

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Professor Bond Benton teaches his public relations principles course. Sheyla Baez | The Montclarion

Bond Benton, a public relations professor, believes course evaluations are very important because student feedback can help improve the quality of teaching.

Benton explained that course evaluations also ensure that good teachers are recognized for their hard work.

“You could be doing amazing stuff, but unless the students let the world know about it, nobody else will ever know about it,” Benton said.

 

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