I'm over at Rebbecca Moore Howard's awesome blog (how does she do it, people?), and I'm scanning through a kind-of-long post. About half way through I find a link to ratemyclass.com. Thinking it's a new version of ratemyprofessors.com, I head over to check it out.

I guess I would have known this if I was paying closer attention to what RMH was actually saying in her post (boo scannadelic blog reading!), but ratemyclass is indeed doing much the same thing that ratemyprofessors is doing, only Syracuse University is the only institution listed on the site.

In spending all of three minutes on the Syracuse page, I was struck by two things: 1) how non-university-y the site looks, what with this banner and all, and 2) that the first published student evaluation I came across reads:

(click to enlarge, if you're into that kind of thing)

Now, we've probably all seen offensive, condemnatory, vituperative evaluations of instructors written by students. But what's weird is that I happened to click over to this particular eval because I was interested in seeing the responses to the course touted by ratemyclass as the best of the "Highest Rated Classes." The course this comment is associated with received a combined score of 9.4 (out of 10).

Clearly, this commenter considers a "good" class one where it's both easy to cheat via (ehem!) copying and where graders are easily coerced into dispensing high grades based on topical choice. If you "do it on being gay," which means write a paper about being gay, this commenter claims you'll get an instant "A." Implicit in this argument are a number of things, obviously, but one I have been thinking about for the past few days is the way personally revelatory writing can be hard to grade since it can seem that what's being revealed is what's being assessed.

The other thing we see in this published evaluation is a personal attack on the appearance of the instructor/professor (not sure which term to use), a thematic common in YouTube videos of and about teachers. Dale Bauer has a piece on the way course evaluations often focus on the appearance of female instructors; here we see how anyone can be assailed as bodily deficient to teach.

(Interested in reading about this again? Check out Inside Higher Ed in a couple of days.)


  1. Tx for kind words! The site you visited is indeed specific to SU, but there's one for every big institution. Just cut the SU-specific stuff off the end of the URL, and you'll be at a site where you can search for your own institution. Be prepared for disgust and nausea.

  2. grandpa gets a high rating from moi.