Still choosing classes? Here are some of Cal Poly’s best and brightest. These professors hail from diverse colleges, from the College of Engineering to the College of Liberal Arts. Each professor had at least 40 Polyratings, and still managed an overall rating of at least 3.90. Check out polyratings.com to read some reviews and make your own decisions.
Dylan Retsek (mathematics): 3.90 with 73 ratings
Robert Detweiler (history): 3.91 with 46 ratings
Todd Grundmeier (mathematics): 3.93 with 41 ratings
Jim Mueller (mathematics): 3.93 with 143 ratings
Jonathan Wilson (liberal studies): 3.93 with 154 ratings
Bryan Mealy (electrical engineering): 3.94 with 64 ratings
Meg Streiff (geography): 3.94 with 64 ratings
Bill Fitzhenry (English): 3.95 with 46 ratings
Debra Wacker (accounting): 3.96 with 48 ratings
Colette Frayne (international business): 3.98 with 43 ratings
Students leave college with a grade point average (GPA), why shouldn’t professors?
Thanks to polyratings.com, a professor rating website, Cal Poly students have been able to “grade” their class experiences for the last 12 years.
The site, original to Cal Poly, allows students to give grade ratings to help peers decide which classes to take with which professors. Postings are made anonymously, and proof of enrollment at Cal Poly is not required when posting information about professors. This creates a potentially dangerous forum, according to some.
“I think that Polyratings can be a very useful tool to gauge students’ sentiment toward their professors,” said journalism senior Emily Morelli. “But it can also be used as a medium to passive-aggressively trash talk professors who maintain strict policies or are tough graders.”
Polyratings was created by two Cal Poly students, Doug Dahms and Forrest Lanning, during a winter break in 1998. The site went online January 9, 1999.
In the spring of 2001, J Paul Reed approached Lanning about updating the Polyratings rating engine. Reed now runs the site on his own, working from his office in San Francisco.
The site is constantly updated, with more than 900,000 professor searches since August 2010.
Is the Polyratings site useful or not?
Kristin McCarty, political science junior: “The site was useful but I didn’t take the ratings too seriously. Obviously, most people only take the time to complain and don’t always give professors the credit they deserve. I confirmed my findings with my roommate who had had all of the professors in the past and that influenced my decision most.”
Basia Gonzales, journalism junior: “I use it every quarter. I like knowing what I’m facing this upcoming quarter.”
Bryce Donavon, business administration senior: “I’ve used rate my professors, but I’ve never used polyratings.”
Nathan Phelps, aerospace engineering senior: “If the professor is an attractive female, you have to sift through the, ‘She’s got nice cans, take her class and sit in the front row baby!’ comments.”
Bryan Mealy, College of Engineering professor: “Polyratings is massively important.”
Joe Grimes, computer science professor: “I never look at the site, but students should use any source of information like that. Students should have the opportunity to decide which professors are the best for them.”
Philip Bailey, dean of the College of Science & Math: “I’m a dean and I evaluate other professors, so I don’t ever look at the site. I don’t see it as a comprehensive evaluating process. The data is not accurate.”
Colette Frayne, Orfalea College of Business professor: “I’ve never read Polyratings because I’m too afraid. Anything anonymous makes me nervous.”
Q&A with the owner of polyratings, J Paul Reed:
Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am a software engineer in San Francisco.
Q: Why do you still run the site? What’s in it for you?
A: I’ve just been doing it as a service to the Cal Poly community.
Q: Why don’t you sell the site?
A: I’ve been approached by mega sites before, wanting me to sell the site. I’ve resisted doing it.
Q: What’s interesting to you about polyratings.com?
A: What’s interesting to me is that they’re still using it. I don’t know if we thought we’d continue running it at this point.
Q: Why haven’t you reached out to the Cal Poly community for help with Polyratings?
A: I don’t know where I would start. It’s like leaving your college town when you graduate. You leave and stuff has changed.
Q: Has polyratings.com ever made any money?
A: Money is not really the motivation.
Q: Many Cal Poly professors dislike polyratings because they feel the data on the site is inaccurate. Is this valid?
A: The professor complaint is valid. To the professors that complain: I hear you, and if you really think that’s a huge problem, you should push for that data to be given out by the university. Cal Poly could anonymously give professor feedback, but they don’t.