Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


How to Pick a “Good” Professor

Coming from high school, it’s a new concept to think you can not only pick your class and what time you take it, but you can choose your professor too. In fact, in college,

picking who you want to teach your class is just as important as deciding which class to take.

As a freshman, almost all of your general education classes are taught by multiple professors. This gives you the opportunity not only to pick a class that fits your schedule, but also the professor you want to take it with.

So, how do you avoid signing up for a class with the Wicked Witch of the West? The best way is to find out what others thought.

Here are some ways to ensure your next professor is like Oz’s good witch.

1) Rate My ProfessorWeb site: www.RateMyProfessor.comRateMyProfessor is really user-friendly and actually fun to use. There are currently over 1,700 FAU professors on the site and you can search for their ratings by name, department or even campus.

Students can rate professors using a 1-5 scale on easiness, helpfulness and clarity while adding comments about textbook use and attendance.

Professors can even post their photo. But the best part – you can also rate if your professor is “hot” or “not.” Granted, their level of “hotness” might not help your grade, but it’s always good to know.

Keep in mind: This site is based solely on volunteer ratings, which are often one extreme or the other. But don’t forget to pay it forward – make sure to use the site and come back to add your ratings at the end of the semester.

2) FAU SPOT Analysis FormsWeb site: http://iea.fau.edu/reports/spot.aspx.Another great way to find out what other students think of your soon-to-be professor is to check out FAU SPOT (Student Perception of Teaching) forms.

SPOT surveys, divided by campus, college and department, are given to students at the end of each term to rate their professor’s effectiveness. This form also goes more in depth about the professor’s ability to teach and how content is covered in his or her class. The survey consists of multiple-choice questions, with more than 15 areas for you to rate the professor.

Although you can’t find out if the professor is hot, these SPOT forms are turned in by every FAU student at the end of the semester. (In fact, the university requires your professor to give them to you.) So, there are a lot more evaluations to look at for each professor, as opposed to RateMyProfessor where you may find only five to 10 ratings per teacher.

Keep in mind: Since the university generates this survey, the questions on the SPOT forms are often geared toward academics. You can find out what grades students received and whether they felt the pace of the class was “faster than usual” or “just right.”

3) Social NetworksWeb sites: www.MySpace.com While you’re commenting on a friend’s wall or filling out a survey for a bulletin, take the time to get in the know about your professors.

MySpace offers a service called Grade My Professor where members can log in to their school and rate a professor based on a letter grade scale. Much like RateMyProfessor, there is a comment section and students can rate each professor on their lectures, amount of homework, fairness and accessibility.

Currently, there are more than 800 professors to rate on MySpace and you can search ratings by a professor’s name, department or FAU campus.

4) Word of MouthTalk to peopleOf course the best way to find out about a professor is to talk to someone who took their class. Ask everyone – your friends, their friends and random people in your classes. Also, keep in mind if you have professors you like, you can ask what they think. You’d be surprised how much teachers have to say about another professor in their department.

But most importantly, ask more than one person about the professor you are considering and when they give you their recommendation, be sure to ask why.

Whatever method you use, be sure to always research the professor before signing up for his or her class. In the worse case scenario, if you end up with a horrible professor, drop the class during add/drop week and find someone better. Nothing is worse than taking a bad class with a lousy professor.

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