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Ratemyprofessors.com Student Evaluations: Relationship Between Quality, Easiness and Hotness Ratings
    Michelle Chong-Macias     University of the Incarnate Word
    Stefanie Boswell     University of the Incarnate Word

Introduction: Ratemyprofessors.com enables students to rate instructors on quality, easiness, and “hotness”; students use the site to determine instructors’ quality and as a source to select professors. While some may question the validity of the site’s ratings; Otto, Sanford, Jr. and Ross (2008) found that ratings are representative of student learning. Previous research indicates that there is a positive correlation between quality and easiness and between quality and hotness (Felton, Koper Mitchell, & Stinson, 2008). This study investigated the relationship between quality and easiness ratings in professors at a specific university; it also investigated if quality and easiness ratings significantly differed by hotness status.
Method: Full-time faculty (N=196, 51% male, 49% female) were identified using the authors’ university’s website. Of the 196, 142 (54.2% male, 45.8% female) had a Ratemyprofessors.com profile; quality, easiness, and hotness ratings were recorded from each profile. Quality is rated on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (good) and easiness is rated on a scale from 1 (hard) to 5 (easy). Hotness ratings are represented by a chili pepper on the website; this was coded as either 0 (not hot) or 1 (hot); 47 professors (33.1%) were rated as hot.
Results: Quality and easiness ratings were positively correlated, r=.48, p<.001. A one-way ANOVA was conducted to investigate differences in quality and easiness ratings by hotness status. Quality ratings were significantly higher for professors with hotness (M=4.54) compared to those without (M=3.64), F(1,140)=34.04,p<.001 ; however, there was no significant difference in easiness ratings between professors with (M=3.48) and without (M=3.17) hotness, F(1,140)=3.04,p=.08 .
Conclusion: There was a relationship between quality and easiness. As quality rating increased, - easiness ratings also increased; professors rated as easy were more likely to be rated as high quality. Students may prefer easier instructors and therefore rate them as having higher quality than instructors who deliver a more difficult class. However, students may also have greater liking or satisfaction for courses offered by quality professors and be more likely to perceive these enjoyable classes as less difficult. Hotness is also related to the quality rating. Instructors with a hot chili pepper received a higher score for quality compared to those without a chili pepper. It is possible that instructors who are perceived as “hot” are viewed more favorably and have more positive characteristics attributed to them (Lorenzo, Biesanz, & Human, 2010). However, this conclusion is not supported by the non-significant relationship between easiness and hotness. A limitation to the study is the lack of a clear operational definition for hotness. Hotness can refer to physical attractiveness; however, there is no clear definition of hotness on the site. If hotness is not determined to be physical attractiveness by a specific rater, then physical attractiveness might not be what is influencing a higher quality score.

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