Fresno State professors have mixed reviews for the Rate My Professors website, which has 1,703 Fresno State professors rated online at a 3.82 total average out of five.
RateMyProfessors.com is the most often used website to review professors at various colleges and universities across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, according to the website.
Students have added more than 14 million ratings of 1.3 million professors at 7,000 schools to the site.
The website also released its 2013 “Top 25” professors in September. A classics professor from Loyola University Chicago came in first.
Four of the top-rated professors at Fresno State are communication professor Jonathan Hernandez, theatre arts professor Edward EmanuEl, mathematics lecturer Jim Ryan and history professor Daniel Cady.
Hernandez, Fresno State’s top-rated professor on the site, said that, though he has not read his reviews, he has been told numerous times by students that they decided to take his class solely because of his ratings.
He said he is humbled by his high reviews.
“I give it 120 percent every single day that I am in the classroom and it is such a wonderful experience to hear that my students appreciate that,” Hernandez said. “I appreciate them. I just want to do everything in my power to help every single one of them succeed.”
Hernandez also said he believes that professors do not pay much attention to or spend much time on the website.
“I feel that students should not let others dictate their decisions on who to take for a class,” Hernandez said. “When I was a student here at Fresno State, I would often hear of the professors who ‘I should stay away from,’ only to find out that I really enjoyed the professor and course material at the end of the semester.”
EmanuEl said the forum meant to help students choose professors becomes offensive when the ratings and comments become personal and about the character of the professor.
“I think the site is only useful when you’re looking at the amount of work that’s assigned by a professor, whether that professor demands that you show up to class or not,” EmanuEl said. “I think stuff like that is important—the factual stuff.
“The personality stuff, I think, is just awful. If you said some of this stuff and you weren’t anonymous, you could probably get sued for slander. And they can say it because they’re anonymous.”
Ryan said he has looked at his own ratings in addition to other professors’ as well.
“I think it’s perfectly fine,” Ryan said. “The students should have a chance to say what they think. It gives you a little insight. The numbers are not perfect, but if you see a professor with a 4.5 versus another with a 2, you’re probably going to want to go with the professor with a 4.5.”
Ryan also said that when he sees a comment criticizing his teaching, it sometimes sparks reevaluation of his methods.
“I think it’s a useful site, and students should try to be constructive if they have criticism,” Ryan said. “When you have students using slander against professors, that’s not useful. But if they give constructive criticism, that’s fine.”
Cady said he has not looked at his reviews in years and has mostly only looked at other professor ratings.
He said the site is useless since the ratings are only based on whether the student likes, dislikes or finds the professor attractive.
“I find it amusing because the professors who have received mediocre reviews are the better professors, and the professors that have received the better reviews are more of the boring professors,” Cady said.