Rate My Student

What better place to learn more about one’s students, John Mark McFadden asks, than a portal filled with ratings of students by teachers and professors?

October 10, 2019
 
 
Istockphoto.com/Redlio design

For Immediate Worldwide Release

On the first day of the term, many college students know far more about their instructors than their instructors will ever know about them. As of July 2019, RateMyProfessor.com had seven million active users and close to 20 million ratings. A vast majority of those users are undergraduates who range in age from 17 to 21. Roughly one-third of the people now enrolled in college have an active Rate My Professor account.

The information on those pages fills the hearts and minds of our students. Many enter our classrooms clinging to preconceived notions about the nature of our courses, their level of difficulty and, until very recently, whether or not other students considered their professors “hot” enough to earn a rating of five jalapeños. But what if someone designed, hosted and maintained a website where professors could post valuable information about their students? How could such a website be anything but a win-win for all?

Well, the wait is over! Going live on Oct. 15, RateMyStudent.com will provide educators with a fair opportunity to post their own constructive and honest statements about their students. What better place to learn more about one’s students than a portal filled with ratings of students by teachers and professors?

The site’s rubric for student ratings will contain five categories: (1) Smartphone Use/Texting, (2) Level of Effort Exerted (extraterrestrial, semi-extraterrestrial, subterranean or alien), (3) Would You Like to Have This Student Again? (Yeah or Um, no), (4) Textbook Use (purchased the book, still waiting for the book to be delivered from Amazon, purchased and brought the book to every class but with no visible cracks in the spine, roommate gave this student the correct book but the wrong edition, or too smart to buy the required book), and (5) Attendance, with the lowest rating being Dismissed from the course for failing to meet the university’s attendance requirement. Additionally, instructors will be allowed to select up to three tags to describe the student.

Directions and tags will include the following:

(Choose carefully -- the fate of future professors lies in your hands.)

  • Ceaselessly reads the wrong pages
  • Class participation does not matter to this student
  • Gives too much feedback to instructors
  • Get ready to receive insolent, grammatically incorrect emails
  • Disruptive
  • Skipped too many classes: student did not pass
  • Insensitive
  • Inaccessible outside of class
  • After missing class, dutifully asked if we did anything important
  • Consistently completed daily homework assignments except on the day of a pop quiz
  • Failed to complete many of the graded assignments
  • Some difficulty understanding crystal-clear grading criteria
  • Feels entitled to extra-credit assignments
  • Writing assignments contain mildly informal diction: I’d, you’d, we’d, idk, u, it’s all good, no worries, dude, bro and so on
  • Reliably turns in essays/lab reports at least one page short of the minimum
  • Peers laugh at this student -- not with them
  • Not a huge fan of group projects

The Backstory

Professor Shamus McContingent founded RateMyStudent.com in May. In June, being like other adjunct faculty -- overpaid, underworked and overinsured -- he booked a first-class seat on a Greyhound bus bound for Silicon Valley. A week later, the bus dropped him at a stop only a short five miles from the same fertile soil that sprouted the unprecedented cataclysmic failures of Theranos, Kozmo.com and Pets.com.

Fully expecting the Valley’s venture capitalists to treat him and his idea with the same deferential respect he receives from his colleagues, McContingent spent close to an entire hour in front of the makeup mirror in his room at the Half Seasons Hotel, honing his pitch. The following morning, fueled by a free sub-continental breakfast consisting of a Styrofoam capsule of piping-cold Fredrick’s Free-Range Coffee and Decayedapplewood Smoked Bacon Particles, and overwhelmed by an entrepreneurial spirit, he pulled out his laptop and started sending query emails.

Sadly, after a solid week of unreturned phone calls and dozens of electronic missives ignored by their recipients, experiencing bumptious bullying and egregious exploitation for the very first time in his professional life, McContingent booked a coach seat and returned home -- empty-handed but nonetheless undaunted.

Using some of the funds bequeathed to him by his late father to start the company, in July 2019, after McContingent spent an hour tinkering with a ground-hardening algorithm, RateMyStudent.com had a semi-clandestine hard launch.

Sample Posts

Below are a few sample posts from a cohort of randomly handpicked educators.

No. 1. Nakkita Nineoneone; Montauk State University; English 101

Texting: 4

Question Tags:

Textbook use -- Still waiting for the book to be delivered from Amazon

Level of effort exerted -- Subterranean

Would you like to have this student in another of your courses? -- Yeah

Descriptor Tags:

After missing class, dutifully asked if we did anything important

Peers laugh at this student -- not with them

Skipped too many classes: student did not pass

Comment:

I had this student last year. Delight not to have in the course; missed three gargantuan handfuls of classes due to so-called family emergencies. Absent for five classes for hometown significant other’s grandmother’s funeral; absent for four more so as to drive on-campus significant other to high school BFF’s uncle’s wake and another three to deal with drama stemming from hometown significant other seeing pictures of campus significant other on Nakkita’s Instagram account. Tardy a mere 60 percent of the time, but upon each late arrival, Nakkita was considerate enough to walk directly in front of me, myopically focused on sending out texts, and proceed to a corner seat (with a fully obstructed view of the whiteboard) in the back row. He once confessed to daydreaming during class of the various ways he might spend an involuntary gap year

No. 2. Blair Buttigott; University of DuLac; Social Psychology 200

Texting: 5

Question Tags:

Textbook use: Too smart to buy the book

Level of effort exerted: Semi-extraterrestrial

Would you like to have this student in another of your courses? -- Um, no

Descriptor Tags:

Gives too much feedback to instructors

Not a huge fan of group projects

Consistently completed daily homework assignments except on the day of a pop quiz

Comment:

Students like Blair Buttigott enthusiastically enjoy sparking debates by questioning every single posited method, theory or idea. From the first day of the term until long after the semester ended, he questioned my teaching methods, the way I formatted the course syllabus, the page requirements for the course essays, my use of PowerPoint instead of Prezi and even my choice of whiteboard markers.

Another benefit of having students like Blair in my courses is that they possess impressive memories: "That’s not how my eighth-grade psych teacher taught us APA format"; "You said something completely different three months ago"; "On page 8, paragraph 3, line 8 of the Student Handbook, it states that if all of the first-class seats on all of the nonstop flights to a student’s hometown are booked then the student is fully entitled to demand that their professor create an online exam to be taken anytime during the following semester"; "I haven’t received a grade below an A since middle school, so I really don’t see why you keep giving me all these low grades."

No. 3. Okon Okoye; Palm Coast Community College; International Relations 300

Texting: 3

Question Tags:

Textbook use -- Purchased the book

Level of effort exerted -- Extraterrestrial

Would you like to have this student in another of your course -- Um, no

Descriptor Tags: [None selected]

Comment:

Unfortunately, in 25 years of teaching, I’ve never had a student quite like Okon. Perfect attendance, never tardy, thoroughly enjoys learning new ideas, attended weekly extra help sessions and acutely questioned only the ideas of certain political scientists but never my pedagogy. Okon earned an A in my course. Mature, focused, polite and highly motivated, I felt like dismissing Okon from the course at times for excessive obsequiousness. My fellow educators, if you see the name Okon Okoye on your class list, then my advice would be to request a new section; if you don’t, you will spend the following six months completely confounded. On the off chance that your request for a different section gets rejected, you will have lost your only hope. Okon’s instructors should, as soon as possible, encourage this student to pursue as many independent study opportunities as possible.

******

Shortly after the trifling success of the semi-clandestine hard launch, McContingent hired We Get the Results You Want, a bottom-tier marketing research firm, to conduct candidly dubious market research. The data from its team provided an unpromising snapshot into the monetization prospects of RateMyStudent.com: five out of four randomly handpicked friends, family members and a few die-hard ivory-tower-climbing members of the adjunct army professed to know about RateMyProfessor.com but never felt one iota of compulsion to read what their students posted about them.

But that said, six out of four of those surveyed stated they would closely read and actively post ratings on RateMyStudent.com. The overwhelming number of McContingent’s family members, friends and colleagues loved the idea of helping their peers learn more about their students’ conduct in previous classes, the amount of time each student devoted to texting in class and which students were obsessed with their high school accomplishments and which would be better off pursuing independent study opportunities.

After spending a little more time fiddling with the algorithm and adding a few more descriptor tags, along with the recent hiring of Greg Ponsi, the former longtime CFO of Theranos, McContingent and his ever-expanding talented team fully expect RateMyStudent.com to go live on Oct. 15, 2019. If you are interested in becoming an investor in RateMyStudent.com, please contact [email protected]

Bio

For the past 10 years, John Mark McFadden has taught English at the University of New Haven. He holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Wesleyan University.

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