Students use web to guide class choices

By LIAM McINERNEY

When picking classes for a new semester, there are a few factors to consider.

The time and place of a course is usually the main concern. Some choose morning classes, while others aim for the afternoon or night.

But after the initial when and where comes the “who.”

Sometimes, students choose to continue the student-instructor relationship from a previous class, but that’s not often feasible.

This decision process can be stressful. The unknown of a completely new instructor sparks numerous questions.

Do they have productive teaching strategies? Is there a lot of homework? Or, more pointedly — is this class an easy A?

Pima Community College freshman Peter Kraemer says coming into college was a hard enough task without the added uncertainty of choosing instructors.

“You need any information you can get,” Kraemer said. “College is a lot different than high school. We couldn’t choose our teachers.”

Luckily for students, there are numerous websites that can help answer some of the important questions.

Ratemyprofessor.com is a popular website where students from any college can add and rate their instructor in four categories: easiness, helpfulness, clarity and rater interest.

This website also allows a short blurb for students to summarize their experience with the instructor.

This can be a quick and easy way to ensure that the semester will hold no surprises.

Teachers also have access to this website and have the ability to comment in the “professor rebuttals” section.

Pima Community College instructor Mariana Carreras feels that surveying students can help better her classroom.

“I routinely give my classes an anonymous survey at the end of the semester to get a sense of how the class is perceived,” Carreras said. “I have immediate feedback from my students that I definitely use to tailor my classes.”

Carreras also feels that students need the ability to vent about their classroom experience, whether it was good or bad.

“When we feel really good about something, we share it with people we care about,” Carreras said.

Websites like ratemyprofessor.com are sprouting up all over the Internet.

Professor Performance, MyEdu and Rate My Teachers are other websites that, in one way or another, judge college instructors.

But do student ratings of professors have an impact on instructors teaching philosophies, or do they just serve as “beware” signs?

Kraemer believes that they serve as both.

“It’s good to know if the teacher isn’t nice, but some comments also show if they just use PowerPoints or lectures,” Kraemer said.

Carreras, who is an art instructor, believes hearing from the students is an essential part in growing as a PCC instructor.

“Teaching is a process of continuous growth and feedback from your students is important, but teacher rating websites, by their nature, offer very little,” Carreras said.

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