Exploring the Context of Course Rankings on Online Academic Forums


University students routinely use the tools provided by online course ranking forums to share and discuss their satisfaction with the quality of instruction and content in a wide variety of courses. Student perception of the efficacy of pedagogies employed in a course is a reflection of a multitude of decisions by professors, instructional designers and university administrators. This complexity has motivated a large body of research on the utility, reliability and behavioral correlates of course rankings. There is, however, little investigation of the (potential) implicit student bias on these forums towards desirable course outcomes at the institution level. To that end, we examine the connection between course outcomes (student-reported GPA) and the overall ranking of the primary course instructor, as well as rating disparity by nature of course outcomes, based on data from two popular academic rating forums. Our experiments with ranking data about over ten thousand courses taught at Virginia Tech and its 25 SCHEV-approved peer institutions indicate that there is a discernible albeit complex bias towards course outcomes in the professor ratings registered by students.

2019 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM)