Plenty of people check out the Web rating site RateMyProfessors.com, including professors. Just ask Lawrie Gardner, a CPA and associate professor of accounting at Anne Arundel Community College.
She logged onto the site early on in her career to see what her students were saying about her, and then she looked up the names of other college professors to see what was being said about them. She said she wanted to find out whether anyone left a comment that she could use to improve her teaching style.
It appears Gardner is doing quite well, as RateMyProfessors.com recently listed her on the site’s ranking of the nation's top colleges and professors based on student entries.
Gardner ranked 21st among the nation’s top 25 junior college professors, and those who submitted entries on the site called her an awesome teacher and added that those who commit themselves in her classes succeed. They said she makes accounting concepts easy to understand.
Margaret Bolton, a biology professor from the College of Southern Maryland, ranked 18th among junior college professors on the site, and Towson University languages professor Lea Ramsdell ranked 22nd among the top 25 university professors.
“I actually find the website very interesting because it is indicative of the way that people in general communicate in this day and age,” said Gardner. “We Facebook, Twitter and text, so a website for students to go to and comment about a good or bad experience they have had with a college professor is just an extension of that.”
Gardner said that she wonders about the accuracy of the website, which says it's owned and operated by MTV’s college network, mtvU, and reaches 3 million students each month.
Yet Gardner added that she’s spoken to students about RateMyProfessors.com and they say they use the site in choosing their classes to avoid getting a teacher that some students have had problems with.
“Someone said [to her] that they overheard a conversation with some students and the student was complaining about a professor and the other student replied, ‘Hey, it’s your fault. You should have used RateMyProfessors.com,'” said Gardner. “So whether or not the site is accurate, students believe that it is and they use it all the time.”
And that said, Gardner said she felt “honored” to be considered among the top-ranked professors according to the site.
“I love what I do and without students in my classes I would not be able to do my job,” Gardner said. “I try to give my students every opportunity to be successful. I encourage them to push themselves, but also give them tools to do so.
“My greatest reward for teaching is that if I am able to encourage at least one or two or perhaps three students per class per semester to pursue my chosen field of accounting and to get the rest of the class excited about the topic, I have done what I wanted.”