Phi Beta Cons

Re: Colleges With the Best (and Worst) Professors

Nathan’s post has generated some comment activity, and as someone who is rated on (e.g. here and here), I’d like to add my two cents on this issue.

RMP is like the Jose Canseco book that threw several baseball players under the steroids bus — the information provided is somewhat factual, but the source’s credibility weakens the message.

Incompetent (boring, can’t speak English, vague grading standards, etc.) professors get low ratings on RMP, but friendly professors get good ratings regardless of how effectively they teach. I can attest to that, because my ratings and comments have not changed much as I’ve moved from school to school, even though my teaching is much more mature now than it was when I started as a graduate student. 

Another problem with the site is that it gives low ratings to the professor who likes to mark papers up with red pen and who doesn’t hand out trophies just for showing up to the game. Such teachers can have a positive and lasting impact on students.

Yet there is nothing inherently wrong with RMP. If students want to share personal opinions on professors, they’re free to do so — they have done that for eons. Problems arise when other stakeholders use the information on RMP to suggest that these students’ opinions of professors are anything other than a data point for 360-degree feedback.

Dare I say that students don’t always know what is best for them and that professors need to maintain their authority in the classroom to teach effectively?

Most Popular


Trump and the North Korean Tipping Point

The world has been stunned by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s announcement last week that he was suspending his country’s nuclear tests in preparation for the impending meeting with President Trump. Even critics have had to concede that Trump’s bellicose rhetoric since last summer regarding the North ... Read More
Politics & Policy

E Pluribus . . . Gridlock

A mantra we hear everywhere these days is that diversity is a good thing. And no doubt, it is. Diversity facilitates an exchange of ideas and opinions, and it promotes economic growth. Moreover, the alternative to diversity is to suppress the views and opinions of some subset of citizens, which is completely ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More