Most universities spend an enormous amount of time, money and energy in evaluating courses and faculty performance, but the information gathered is seldom available to students. A number of faculty ratings sites have been established that offer an totally open and accessible forum for students to evaluate their instructors with anonymity and “almost absolute impunity.”
This is a interesting study of RateYourProfessor.com. It’s long, but there are some interesting comparisons with traditional evaluations. At least a few traditional studies have questioned the impact of “attractiveness” on teacher ratings, with one study concluding that “attractive professors consistently outscore their less comely colleagues by a significant margin on student evaluations of teaching”. RateYourProfessor allows faculty members to assign “chile peppers” as an indicator of overall “hotness”. We’re still looking for ways to encourage students to complete on-line evaluations of their courses; maybe a faculty “hotness” item would help.