Here’s a very interesting tip from a Médialogues listener: meinprof.ch, a website that shows ratings of Swiss university profs as judged by students. In the March 5, 2008 episode of RSR’s Médialogues show, the item “Wie gut ist dein Professor?” (How good is your professor?), mentions several sites that publish students’ ratings.
Coming from Swiss higher education, I of course checked out meinprof.ch. Very nice layout and organisation, easy to browse or look for a specific school, field or prof within a school. Of course, as discussed on the medialogue podcast, the tricky part is that any “student” can sign up and leave an evaluation behind; so the validity of the ratings depends heavily on the earnestness of the students’ entries. Along those lines, the French equivalent site, note2be.com, was recently shut down by a court decision: Apparently the danger of slandering profs was seen as too great.
Hmmm. Going on the assumption that the ratings are based on honest opinion and not petty motives (admittedly a big assumption), maybe it’s not such a bad idea to publicize students’ evaluations of professors. It could be one way to tip the balance a bit, providing a forum where teaching – finally – gets some weight in judging a prof’s preformance.
The criteria on meinprof.ch, listed per prof and course, are pretty straight forward: fairness, support, materials, understandability, fun, interest, plus an overall rating averaged over those six. Additionally each course gets a ratio of grade/effort, meant to reflect the effort needed to get a good grade (not included in the overall rating).
I can hear the shouts now: “What?! Fun?! Interest?! That’s not a professor’s job!! We’re not clowns up there to entertain those lazy students!” Of course not. But I definitely find those 2 criteria valid. If anything, they serve to separate the good profs from the great profs: Presenting your academic field in a fair, understandable way is fine to be good enough; but sparking students’ interest in the academic field that is your passion (yes, passion) is what it should take to be called a great prof. And that’s good for teaching *and* for research. OK, rant over. 🙂
Some more links…
note2be.com French students rate their profs (currently censured by court order)
Studimedia.ch a marketing agency for higher education institutions, responsible for meinprof.ch
studisurf.ch surfing fun for uni students in Switzerland
meinprof.de German students rate their profs
coming soon: monprof.ch Swiss students from French-speaking Switzerland rate thier profs