Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Satire: Rate My Professor ratings are a self-fulfilling prophecy

Another reading assignment? Sounds like “2.3 out of 5” behavior to me
McKenna Premus / Daily Collegian

Editor’s Note: The following column is satirical. It is meant for humorous purposes. All interviews and individuals are fictitious.

The spring semester is finally here. Students at the University of Massachusetts have once again entered that magical time of year where scheduling crises, frantic emails to counselors and general disappointment are waiting around every corner. That’s right, we’re talking about Add/Drop week.

According to studies by Student Union Scheduling Statistics Yearly (SUSSY), 2 percent of UMass students are lucky enough to end up with schedules that they actually want, while the remaining 98 percent will obtain schedules that are often described as “all right, I guess.”

After struggling with the volatile nature of Spire, students across campus desperately reach out for something constant that they can count on for their scheduling needs. One website has risen to the top, bringing the most accurate, unbiased information for planning out the semester:

Reviews left by students on the Rate My Professor website are considered factual. After all, student experiences with professors are 100 percent consistent, especially considering that variations of learning styles and work habits do not vary whatsoever between individuals. Despite what my high school statistics teacher might say, the voluntary sample of UMass students that post on Rate My Professor is fully representative of the wider population of students at the University.

We interviewed freshman informatics major Pearson Coeffischente about his opinions on the statistical accuracy of the site.

“That’s the basic rule of informatics. You make opinions based on the data, especially when we’re dealing with such accurate data as this,” said Coeffischente. “I mean, what are people supposed to do? Come up with opinions on their own? I don’t think so.”

To investigate the influence of Rate My Professor, we spent the first few weeks of the fall 2021 semester sitting behind Coeffischente during his Intro to Macroeconomics lecture. About two weeks into the semester, Coeffischente stopped coming to class. This is a very common occurrence with many students in introductory level lectures, but we decided to follow up with him a few weeks later to see if there was any correlation between Rate My Professor and his sudden absence.

“I really liked this professor, but one day during a lecture, I looked up and saw that the girl in front of me was typing his name into the RMP search bar. His rating was 2.3. I was stunned. I felt confused, betrayed … I cried a little bit.” said Coeffischente.  “After I found out that he had a 2.3 rating, I just couldn’t enjoy his class anymore. I have been endowed with the sacred wisdom of the students who came before me, and I must treat it as such.”

On the Rate My Professor site, the latest student that had reviewed this Macroeconomics professor gave him an overall rating of “1 out of 5,” rated his difficulty level at “4 out of 5,” and stated that their own final grade in the class was “pretty bad.” The written review read, “He doesn’t even know econonomonics!! You’re going to have too much homework. Worst professor ever, they’re exams will kill u dead.” After inserting a few indents, the student reviewer simply added, “Btw add me on snap @Jud_Gement25.”

“That review really spoke to me.” said Coeffischente. “It was so powerful and honest. After reading that, I was convinced that the class was just doomed from the start.”

When asked what he would do to substitute going to lectures, Coeffischente said that he would opt to watch the Echo360 recordings as needed.

“That’s a lie,” said Cora Lation, Coeffischente’s girlfriend. “I asked him to show me where to find Echo360 on Moodle and he clicked on the link to register an iClicker. I’m worried for him.”

We checked back with Coeffischente at the end of the fall 2021 semester. Lation had already broken up with him at this point.

Coeffischente reported that he had only attended six lectures in total. He decided that he was qualified enough to add his own review to the professor’s Rate My Professor page. Contributing a devastatingly low overall rating of “1 out of 5,” his written review simply stated, “It’s not a fair class. I didn’t learn anything :(“

It’s clear that RMP ratings are a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the University wants to combat this trend of confirmation bias among students, University administration should consider an ethical, simple solution: program a herd of bots to submit inflationary ratings across the board. Just like that, UMass’ students would naturally start looking for the best in their professors, and we might even score a little higher on the next Princeton Review ranking.

Kelly McMahan can be reached at [email protected].

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