A new web site launched March 14 enables students at PSU to rate and write reviews about the difficulty, effectiveness and availability of professors on campus.
The site, called "RatePSU.com," allows students to rate professors based on a one-to-five scale and produces an average rating score on all five categories. Students are also encouraged to leave thoughtful feedback about their classroom experiences for other students to read.
So far, most professors have fewer than 10 feedback posts, but the website is receiving many hits per day, according to student Tony Rasmussen, communications director for the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU). Since RatePSU.com was launched, over 3,000 ratings have been given to about 1,400 teachers.
A project spearheaded by student government, the idea was born from student feedback that ASPSU Vice President Ryan Klute received while running for office last year.
Many departments collect evaluations from students on their professors at the end of the term, but students usually do not have access to the results.
"I think this is going to be a really effective tool," Klute said. He found that the ability to find out about professors before taking a class with them seemed more important to many students than issues such as tuition increases or textbook prices. "It hit a nerve. It shows an untapped need."
In the first 12 hours after the site was launched, it received 1,500 hits and 1,200 professor ratings.
"I’m impressed that people are taking the time to leave thorough feedback," Klute said.
Comments can also be left about the site itself. Klute said most of the responses have been favorable, though there have been complaints from some professors that it will present inaccurate information because students with very strong positive or negative feelings may polarize the results.
Others worry that students will use the site to attack teachers or be used to print hurtful and personal comments.
"I think this tool is not going to do the job," PSU physics senior Sergio Lopez said, "It’s just a cheap way to vent frustrations."
The web site is set to flag obscenities and Klute says that so far there have been two objectionable comments, one implying that a professor had been fired and one that commented on a professor’s breasts. In both cases, the offensive comments were removed.
Regardless, adjunct communications professor Rebecca Black believes RatePSU.com will help unknown professors attract students to their classrooms. "Adjuncts especially are not recognized when they do well," she said.
Black also thinks that, while the site has its flaws, it will serve as an important public forum.
"There’s not enough public dialogue," she said, "It’s true, it’s not going to be statistically accurate, but it is going to be a place to voice. Voice in a democracy is never a bad thing."