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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
- About Us
Online Course Reviews Bare All
18 November 1999 7:00 pm
Getting slammed by students about one's teaching can be painful for professors, but now there's an even greater danger to faculty egos: uncensored Web forums where students offer unrestrained praise--or denunciations--of their classes. At least one professor has thrown a counterpunch, last month suing a site over its public vetting of his teaching.
It's common for academic departments to use confidential student reviews in promotion decisions, and at some campuses students for years have produced booklets of edited reviews to help peers choose classes. Posting raw, anonymous reviews on the Internet, however, is a recent phenomenon. For example, Teacher Review, a 2-year-old site, posts unedited comments on courses at two San Francisco schools. Some reviews are thoughtful, others are vicious, and many are peppered with remarks ranging from "way cool" and "he da man!" to "tells raunchy jokes" and "this guy is anal!" Angered at some of the reviews posted about himself, English professor Daniel Curzon-Brown of City College of San Francisco last month filed a lawsuit seeking to block the postings and remove links from the college to Teacher Review, which is run off-campus by a student. Curzon-Brown, who's also seeking monetary damages, alleges that false and defamatory statements were made about him and others.
Not all professors oppose the sites. San Francisco State University biologist Ralph Larsen, also rated on Teacher Review, says, "Students are going to get the word out, anyway." Gary Freeman of the University of Texas, Austin, whose developmental biology class is rated at another site, says that to him it's no different from a tradition at Austin, where departments post big sheets of paper at registration for students to scrawl their opinions: "This kind of information is all over the place." But chemist John Moore of the University of Maryland, College Park, who's also been reviewed, worries that the sites could give students a one-sided view--not to mention cause "psychological harm" to professors. "I don't see that it's very helpful," he says.