Tuesday, 31 January 2006


Econ prof James D. Miller think colleges need to “fight” RateMyProfessors.com. I don’t know if it needs fighting, per se, but I’d say it’s only marginally valuable. For example, here at Duke I’m allegedly easy but at Millsaps I was easier yet was considered tough (and had the grade distribution to prove it—my classes were consistently below the college’s mean GPA).

That said, I don’t mind student-centered evaluations and have even lauded one effort to compile such things here at Duke, where the “official” evals for last semester are apparently so shrouded in secrecy that I still haven’t seen them 6 weeks after turning in grades. And I don’t even mind student evals in general, although they almost certainly were a factor in my failing upward in the academic universe.

Though, as a political scientist looking for a job, the mentality noted by this commenter (allegedly a faculty member in my field) is somewhat disturbing:

I have been to two academic conferences within the year (academic year 2005–06) where colleagues were running tenure-track job searches (political science) and when I made recommendations regarding two individuals who I thought might be a good fit for both jobs, I received subsequent emails that,“after having checked RMP” (talk about unprofessional behavior!!!) there were “concerns” whether either of the recommended colleagues could teach in liberal arts enviornment. Clearly RMP is being looked at by folks on search committees. Don’t believe for a minute that after having looked at RMP folks are not influenced by what they read. And don’t believe that search committee members are not going directly to RMP to, as I was told, “a snapshot” of job candidates. AAUP and the national associations for the various disciplines ought to step in on this debate and come down clearly on RMP and its use in job searches etc.


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.
[Permalink] 1. mungowitz wrote @ Tue, 31 Jan 2006, 3:11 pm CST:


Chris, your evals are available in the office, and have been since one week after finals.

We don’t send them out, because we don’t make multiple copies. But they are there for you, whenever you want. I read them carefully over the holidays.

And, may I say, they are (inexplicably) very good! You are a very good teacher, bub! Well done!


Ah, I was expecting them to show up online somewhere, since I did the paperwork to put them online when you sent out the memo last semester. My bad!


Any thoughts on a comprehensive effort to measure RMP accuracy (i.e. the self-selected comments compared to the boradly based class evals)?


I just don’t see how you do it without a significant number of RMP evals per faculty member. I’d love to be proven wrong, though.

For what it’s worth, I think numeric institutional evals probably do work, even though recovering anything beyond a single dimension from the data is way too much to ask (since I suspect most students aren’t going beyond one dimension anyway).

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