RateMyProfessors.com versus formal in-class student evaluations of teaching

July 24, 2007

Using data for 426 instructors at the University of Maine, we examined the relationship between RateMyProfessors.com (RMP) indices and formal in-class student evaluations of teaching (SET). The two primary RMP indices correlate substantively and significantly with their respective SET items:
RMP overall quality correlates r = .68 with SET item, Overall, how would you rate the instructor?; and RMP ease correlates r = .44 with SET item, How did the work load for this course compare to that of others of equal credit? Further, RMP overall quality and RMP ease each correlates with its corresponding SET factor derived from a principal components analysis of all 29 SET items: r = .57 and .51, respectively. While these RMP/SET correlations should give pause to those who are inclined to dismiss RMP indices as meaningless, the amount of variance left unexplained in SET criteria limits the utility of RMP. The ultimate implication of our results, we believe, is that higher education institutions should make their SET data publicly available online.

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