The Rating Game

By Alex Bigelow

Horizon Reporter has become a virtual gateway for students to glimpse what their lives are going to be like for the next few months. Whether what you read strikes fear, sets your mind at ease or does nothing at all, allows students to see what awaits.

   is based primarily on past student reviews. After the class is completed, students access this open forum and post and read reviews about a specific teacher. The criteria and ratings for the teachers are based on three categories: helpfulness, easiness, and clarity, adding up to an overall quality. Each is based on a one to five scale, five being the best. In addition to giving ratings on the three categories, each reviewer is given a 350 character limit to say anything they want about the teacher and their class.  

            Many students use these reviews to help them prepare for the quarter to come.

“It’s good to know going in what to expect,” said Whatcom student Jordan Neuhauser, who said he mainly looks for teaching style because that’s what’s important to him.

            Western Washington University student Connor Hill considers other qualities. “With five professors teaching the same subject at the same time, I want to know who will best help me and who has the best balance between niceness and hardness,” he said.

Along with reviews, the website also offers a tab directly next to the teacher ratings that shows the books used by that professor as well as offering alternative methods to attain said books. Another common use of this website is to find out if the professor actually uses the book or not. Since many of us would love to avoid buying textbooks and just use the one on reserve in the library, reading reviews is a way to find out how often, if at all, the teacher uses their required text.

            This website not only contains professor reviews, but also school reviews. Each school has an overall professor rating quality based on all the professors’ ratings that have taught at that particular school. Whatcom Community College has an overall rating of 3.5 out of 5.   

            Along with school and teacher reviews, also offers teachers the chance to refute claims written about them. The only difference is that in order for professors to post a rebuttal, they have to have an account with the website; students making reviews do not. Regardless, it allows teachers to defend their methods.

             “Most commentary isn’t helpful to students and not constructive for instructors,” said nutrition instructor Kimberly Reeves. Without naming any names, Reeves also noted that she has known professors who have gone on and written reviews about themselves to mess with students.

            It is important to note that you do not have to be a student to post a review. Anyone can post a review about any professor regardless of whether they have had the teacher or not. Since it is an open forum, there is no way to police and regulate what is said.

            Questioning what you read on the site may be necessary. “The reviews for the most part are accurate but sometimes exaggerated,” said anthropology instructor Dominique Coulet du Gard. Du Gard also voiced concern that the reviews are not specific enough about content, which she feels is most important.

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