The Psychology of Online Professor Ratings

“Journal of Marketing Education” (from Sage Publishing) has published a study by David Ackerman of California State University Northridge and Christina Chung of Ramapo College of New Jersey about the presence of bias in online student evaluations of their professors. Their research compared actual on-campus ratings versus online ratings for the same professor and class and found that the latter tend to reflect whatever tone early ratings give. Thus, if a professor gets a couple early very bad ratings, later ratings are typically not so good. The opposite also holds true. They theorize that a kind of peer pressure, once removed, may be at work. But I would just call it “framing” in the Kahenman-Tversky sense.

What I like best of all about their work is their characterization of “Rate My Professor” and similar forums as the online equivalent of bathroom stall walls–a place to vent one’s frustrations.

Now what we need is more research into on-campus ratings in terms of their accuracy.

Here’s the link:

About mediainmind

Education: BFA in Painting & Sculpture from California College of the Arts (Oakland); Executive MBA in Executive Management from the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University (Claremont); MA and PhD in Media Psychology from the Fielding Graduate University (Santa Barbara). Experience: Over 40 years experience in marketing, advertising, and public relations on the client and agency sides of the business; for-profit and nonprofit, as well as government. Special Expertise: The interface between human behavior and the media. It's all about "media in mind." View all posts by mediainmind

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