Top Lists Ranking Methodology
RateMyProfessors.com is the largest online destination for professor ratings. With 7,500+ schools and over 14,000,000 entirely student-generated comments and ratings, RateMyProfessors.com is the highest trafficked free site for quickly researching and rating 1,700,000+ professors from colleges and universities across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Each year, RateMyProfessors.com compiles Top Lists of the Highest Rated Professors, Hottest Professors, and Top Schools in the U.S. based on ratings from students.
The site uses a five-point Likert scale as well as a binary scoring system for students to rate professors. Below is a summary of the overall methodology used to compile the 2011-2012 rankings as well as notations for each of the categories1.
Professors are ranked according to the following methodology: Each individual professor rating is first standardized and subsequently the standardized scores for the years 2009,2010, and 2011 are weighted, putting more weight on recent years and fewer weight on ratings from the past (15% for 2009, 25% for 2010, 60% for 2011). Using the weighted score, professors are ranked from high to low. Only professors with 30 ratings or more are included to provide statistical significance.
In an attempt to break ties, professors with a greater number of ratings are ranked higher; the rationale is that a larger amount of information typically results in an estimate closer to the true parameter. Nevertheless, ties (i.e. professors with the same score and the same number of ratings) may still occur. In that case, if two professors are tied for the same place - say 5th - then the next available rank is 7th.
It should also be noted that school size does not affect the outcome of the lists nor does it give professors from larger schools an advantage over their corollaries from smaller schools. We performed a regression analysis on school size vs. number of ratings and found no noteworthy correlation.
Here now is a look at how each of the lists are compiled:
Highest Rated Professors
Students rate professors on several dimensions: Clarity, Helpfulness, Easiness and rater interest (interest level prior to attending the class). However, a professors Overall Quality rating (which informs the highest rated professor list) is determined by an equal weighting of only two criteria: clarity and helpfulness. 5 is the highest rating and 1 is the lowest rating for each of the above-mentioned dimensions.
A professor who receives a chili pepper is considered "hot." Chili peppers are awarded based on the sum of positive and negative (hot or not) ratings. For instance, if a professor receives 7 "hots" and 6 "nots" the hots will be counted as "+" and the "nots" as "-". The sum of these (7-6) equals 1, meaning the professor will receive a chili pepper. If the result had been negative, the professor would not receive a chili pepper. Professors are ranked by highest numerical value in this case. For instance a -3 result is higher than a -4.
Highest Rated Schools
School rankings are based partially on the above professor ratings. In order to assemble a school's rating, we include both its overall Professor Average rating, as well as its Overal School Rating which is an average of its campus ratings2. We weigh professor ratings and campus ratings equally (50% each) which implies that a top school scores high both in terms of academics as well as campus life. Similar to the professor ratings, in order to provide statistical significance, we only admit schools with at least 30 rated professors and 30 campus ratings. Using the resulting scores, schools are ranked from high to low.
1 Data analysis is conducted with the help of Wolfgang Jank who is the Anderson Professor of Global Management in the Department of Information Systems and Decision Sciences at the University of South Florida.
2 Campus Ratings is an element on RMP that allows students to rate schools based on reputation, location, career opportunities, school library, campus grounds and common areas, internet speed on campus, food on campus, clubs and events, social activities and whether or not the student is happy with their decision to attend the school.