Putting it out in the open…

Hey man-

I like it. I like it a lot. When I was in college there were a few times that the topic of professor feedback came up. We had the opportunity to evaluate our professors at the end of every semester, but a) that information was not used by the administration in evaluating the performance and competency of the professors, and b) that information was not made public. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could look at some aggregate of that data in choosing our classes? One of the things that has been instrumental to the success of Amazon and E-bay is the access to feedback data. I believe in the merit of what you are suggesting, a few things come to mind…

  1. When we want to provide data to people, I think it is based on the assumption that people are rational decision makers. It does not seem to me that this is actually the case. Dan Ariely and others have shown repeatedly that we are not naturally rational decision makers.  I think that what data is made available and how it is made available makes a huge difference.
  2. I think that what we measure is also critically important. Are we making sure that the data we collect is directly aligned with what we really care about? Feedback on professors might easily let me know which professors are the most popular…but that does not necessarily mean that they are the best professors.

Like I said, I like it, I just think the implementation has to be really well thought out.

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