[Air-l] Evaluation Logs

Frank Thomas frank.thomasftr at free.fr
Tue Jun 3 06:32:23 PDT 2003

I guess the public evaluation of a course and a professor - and its 
subsequent publication - can be quite an important tool in measuring 
customer satisfaction.  And as this is nothing more than an opinion poll 
in the same way a download site invites its customers to rate the 
program just downloaded I guess there can be no legal barriers to the 
publication of the poll's result.

HOWEVER, the tool as it is on the web can heavily distort the result as 
it invites everyone to vote. The sampling is as bad a convenience sample 
as other web surveys inviting anyone to give his or her opinion.  Maybe 
this is old school thinking, but as someone from Old Europe I stick to 
old school rules, like reprentativity of a sample.

And then comes all the questions if student evaluation is really the way 
to judge the quality of a teacher. But this is an entire different 

For me, the result produced by //www.ratemyprofessor.com is just rubbish.
Frank Thomas
Rosny, France

Charles Ess wrote:

>Interesting thread! (Aren't they all?)
>My _hunch_ would be that the issues involved would be analogous to
>publishing comments about a person in a newspaper or other public venue -
>and thus would depend in some measure on the laws and practices regarding
>libel (in the case of libelous comments that could be proven to be untrue).
>The complicating factors:
>1) whether or not professors can be seen as "public" figures (in which case,
>at least in the U.S., as I understand it, pretty much anything goes);
>2) whether the forum is seen as a public venue (hence, the laws apply) like
>a newspaper, or more like a private one (at least in the U.S., especially in
>light of 1st amendment rights of free speech, again, anything goes); and
>3) how these laws and practices vary from country to country.
>On all of these matters, there are _real_ experts on the Air list (you know
>who you are - smile!): I hope they'll pitch in and contribute their
>While I agree that such a site/process is not necessarily bad - at the same
>time, I would hope that no one would take such a site as anything more than
>a "customer satisfaction" measure - and that, among purely self-selected
>customers (probably those really enthusiastic about and those really pissed
>off at a certain professor).  Given the real anonymity of the comments and
>ratings, this information _could_ be useful, if read carefully - but I don't
>see anything at the site suggesting such caveats.
>At the same time,: this seems to take the "student as consumer" model to a
>new height -or low, insofar as, in my view, such a model is pretty much
>opposite to what I think higher education, at least as rooted in liberal
>arts traditions, should be about.  Perhaps this is why I received the lowest
>ratings in my university for "easiness"? (smile)
>In any case, looking forward to hearing from our real experts on this -
>Charles Ess
>Distinguished Research Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies
>Drury University
>900 N. Benton Ave.                          Voice: 417-873-7230
>Springfield, MO  65802  USA            FAX: 417-873-7435
>Home page:  http://www.drury.edu/ess/ess.html
>Co-chair, CATaC: http://www.it.murdoch.edu.au/catac/
>Exemplary persons seek harmony, not sameness. -- Analects 13.23
>>From: Homero Gil de Zuniga <hgildezuniga at wisc.edu>
>>Reply-To: air-l at aoir.org
>>Date: Tue, 03 Jun 2003 03:27:15 -0500
>>To: air-l at aoir.org
>>Subject: RE: [Air-l] Evaluation Logs
>>That was funny. Regarding your question, I don't exactly know where the
>>limit is but I guess that as long as they don't infringe any basic human
>>being rights, they should be fine. I also would imagine that it depends
>>on peoples' perception. In any case, it was interesting finding me
>>rated... :)  Probably the fact that they said I was good and evidently
>>HOT (just kidding) made me see it not necessarily and intrinsically
>>bad... More thoughts? Anybody with a cyberspace- law-policy background?
>>Homero Gil de Zuniga
>>Project Assistant for the Journalism & Mass  Communication Department
>>PO BOX 260022
>>53726 Madison
>>e-mail: hgildezuniga at wisc.edu
>>Office: (608) 263-7852
>>"It is nice to be important... but it is much more important to be
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: air-l-admin at aoir.org [mailto:air-l-admin at aoir.org] On Behalf Of
>>Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 12:05 AM
>>To: air-l at aoir.org
>>Subject: [Air-l] Evaluation Logs
>>I apologize if this has already been discussed here; I haven't seen it,
>>have looked through the archive.
>>What thoughts have ye on sites such as http://www.ratemyprofessor.com?
>>there legal boundaries to what the site can allow? Are things said there
>>contestable against the author and/or the site?
>>Given relatively small numbers of evaluators per professor evaluated, I
>>would presume there to be negative bias. Interestingly, however, the FAQ
>>that site in particular claims 60% positive ratings.

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