Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Students shopping 

A colleague sends around the university by email today a notice sent at the Univ. of Minnesota that students are being invited to visit Pick-A-Prof to determine who to take for their classes.

Pick-A-Prof has posted the number of A-F's given by professors at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and lets you compare the grade histories in the courses you are about to register for. That means before you register you can look up the courses you are thinking about taking and see the number of A-F's professors historically give as well as their DROP RATE - straight from the official University of Minnesota, Twin Cities records.

For example, if you are interested in taking a Math course, Pick-A-Prof will tell you who is teaching it next semester at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and what they historically give in that course.

Pick-A-Prof has tons of reviews from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities students. That means you can learn WHAT IT TAKES to make the grade you want using other student's reviews with information including:

  • Exam Type
  • Homework Load
  • Lecture Style
  • Attendance Policy & More

NEW! - Discussion Boards Pick-A-Prof Discussion Boards are a place online for students to search for an answer, post questions, or answer other student's questions. They are a student-to-student support forum that enables anyone who uses Pick-A-Prof to discuss various class topics, ask questions about homework or projects, and get tips and advice about the courses you are taking. You'll find a wealth of information about courses that will help you get the most out of your classes and help you get the grades you want.

Shopping for professors has been around forever, of course -- in dorms, fraternities and sororities, at nearby coffee shops, etc., there has always been a desire to find out the "gut course" and the "easy A". The thing the internet is supposed to do best is to disseminate information, so it makes sense to me that Pick-A-Prof exists. And I'm not bothered either by someone creating a website, driving eyes to it and selling ads on it, particularly when I do it here myself. And I'm not sure other faculty would be bothered by this search for an easy grade either. (My colleague who sent it to the campus had as his subject line simply "Sigh".) It's discouraging, but it's hardly a surprise.

So why does this bother faculty so much? I suspect the biggest issue faculty have with it, as well as with online professor ratings/evaluations, is the same "gatekeeper" issue that others (such as Saint Paul or the folks at Oh That Liberal Media) are discussing about blogs versus MSM. Does the market for information work well enough in these discussion areas that the one student who had a computer failure cause her to miss a homework assignment, and who blames it all on Prof. X, cannot pillory Prof. X over and over in the discussion area and create the impression that Prof. X is a bad prof?