An Evaluation of Student Conformity When Using Professor Rating Websites

Authors:  Jenna Swiggard and Steven Seidel
Date:  October, 2012

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Abstract

Are all students equally likely to utilize websites like RateMyProfessor to determine the appropriate courses to take in college? Positive and negative professor reviews were examined to discover whether previous student feedback might influence future students’ perceptions of instructor attractiveness and anticipated academic effort. Two hypothetical professors, Professor X and A were created for this study. Each professor had either positive or negative commentary. Two hypotheses were formulated: (1) there would be a main effect between the low self-esteem individuals and the likelihood of choosing Professor X, with positive student commentary; and (2) students that are attracted to a professor review will anticipate more positive academic effort for the course. The Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale was used to evaluate whether self-esteem level would be predictive of choosing a professor with positive student commentary. Additionally, perception questions were formulated to assess “attraction to professor” and “positive academic effort.” Results indicated that students that received a positive feedback review were more attracted to the professor. Attraction ratings to the professor review failed to predict a students’ academic effort. Overall, the findings support the reliability for the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Attraction to Professor measure, and the Positive Academic Effort measure. Further studies should measure perceptions of the RateMyProfessor reviews as students are actually examining potential professors as well as, whether a students' grade point average is a variable in the likelihood of students to use the website to locate professors with more favorable student com
mentary.