Students get revenge for bad grades

Low marks lead to bad online reviews



Tracy Vaillancourt, a University of Ottawa professor, has proven that students who get bad grades take revenge on their professors by giving them a bad online reviews. That’s a problem. If professors fear giving low grades, then they may unjustifiably give better ones. When that happens, students lose because they never get the kick in the pants they need to start doing better.

From the U. Ottawa press release:

The popular professor ratings site Rate My Professors contains over 13 million comments and 1.7 million ratings of professors. The comments and ratings purportedly help students with their course and professor selection. However, from the perspective of many professors, a lot of the comments are downright mean. Professor Vaillancourt was interested in whether such vitriolic comments were made in response to a poor grade from the professor.

Results of her new study published in the journal Aggressive Behavior confirm Vaillancourt’s initial hypothesis. The results are unequivocal—students who were given a poor grade aggressed against the professor through poor teaching evaluations. In fact, students who received poor grades were 10 to 19 times more likely to make negative comments than those who received high grades. For example, one student issued a veiled threat: “Hope that I never find you!”

Vaillancourt also found that students who measured higher for narcissism and self-esteem were more likely to aggress against the professor in response to receiving a poor grade than students with a self-opinion that was not so self-aggrandizing. The “good” news for professors is that when these students were given a good grade, they returned the favour by giving the professor the highest scores.

Many professors have expressed concerns over the validity of students’ ratings, feeling that they reflect a popularity contest largely driven by professor’s easy marking. Such concerns are not trivial, since decisions about promotion, tenure and annual raises are based in part on students’ ratings. According to Vaillancourt, the findings suggest that “students’ ratings of professors are biased and that favourable evaluations can be bought with high grades.”


Students get revenge for bad grades

  1. A new website called ‘rate my student’ should be up. It allows professors to rate individual students. The fees of Canadian students are subsidized, as such if a student is not performing well the taxpayer has a right to know.

    • stfu you dumbass, the main reason students perform well is because profs dont know how to teach, what their teaching, and overall dont give a shit about their job or the people theyre screwing over

    • There used to be a blog called rateyourstudents that played into this a bit. It was more of a sounding board for frustrated profs and TAs to vent about their current and former students, and certainly names couldn’t be published.

  2. People should remember what the word professor means! To me the real issue is finding ways for students to learn. One of the best single line quotes I have ever read comes from Socrates and is something like – I couldn’t teach anybody anything but I got them to think. Most of the professors I have met in 30 years are serious about their teaching.

  3. I think there are plans for a website whereby professors can name individual students and assess their performance in public, this is not the same as the one that was set up as a bit of fun in the US. Additionally, professors will be able to make comments about a student’s attitude. Its necessary to single out poor and bad attitude students in order for employers in future to be able to avoid them. If professors can be assessed as a matter of public record and their salaries published on-line as they are on public-sector websites in Ontario, certainly the other beneficiaries of taxpayer’s money, the students, should be subject to the same rules.