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 Students Dish Out the Red Ink on Campushopper - Article

by Campushopper Kevin Lang

The idea is simple. What if students could rate their professors based on their teaching proficiency? What if bad teachers could be exposed before students had to bare the burden of their shortcomings? And, what if there was a place where students could recommend good professors to fellow students? With Campushopper.com's Grade My Professors, the creators hope to help answer the recurring question that students face each semester, "Who should I take for my classes and what can I expect?"

It's hard to know what to expect from most college professors, and too often do students have to struggle through poorly taught classes. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2003, and I can attest to this first hand. I had a graduate level computer class whose teacher only showed up for half the classes. He wasn't present to answer our questions or to explain the material. A group of my fellow students and I had to go before the dean to get the matter resolved. The department didn't force the teacher to come to the class. Instead, they just gave almost all of the students a passing grade.

As often reflected when students rate their professors online, situations like this happen often in college. Just ask Beth Meyer, a junior at Mississippi State University. "All of my teachers are foreign this semester," Beth says. "This doesn't matter to me, except that I often can't understand two of them, and I end up missing a lot of the lecture. Why do American universities hire teachers who can't effectively communicate the material?" Beth told me that she wanted to go to the department chair, but she hesitated because she felt that it might seem racist.

Many teachers are speaking out against sites that allow students to rate their college professors, citing that they are being unfairly critiqued by students who are unwilling to learn.

"Sure, there are a few questionable posts," says Grade My Professor's co-creator Kevin Lang. "That's why we have an option where users can flag inappropriate and vulgar comments...we want to be fair to everyone." Kevin also says that in the same regard, it's obvious that a lot of teachers are grading themselves with near perfect scores, which is in turn rather unfair to the students.

In the end, Campushopper.com's Grade My Professors is another useful and unforeseen tool that has emerged because of the internet. It's giving once silent students a voice in bringing both bad and good professors into the radar of their classmates.
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