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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 1, 2005

Pick-A-Prof at a glance

by Linda Charles

Pick-A-Prof, a Web-based site that provides student evaluations of classes and professors at nearly 100 institutions, is adding Iowa State to its roster.

The Government of the Student Body is working with the Web firm and hopes to have the ISU section fully operational by the end of the semester.

Here's a quick look at how Pick-A-Prof works.


To use Pick-A-Prof, you must register (registration is free). Even if you're not a student, you can register as one by falsifying some answers. However, the company verifies faculty registrations.

Class reviews

A main feature of Pick-A-Prof is student reviews of classes and professors. The company encourages students who've taken classes to provide reviews that offer information about homework load, lecture style, exam type, attendance policy and study tips.

Pick-A-Prof's Web site states that all reviews are read before they are posted and that reviews containing profanity, personal attacks on professors or references to other reviews or professors are not allowed.

Students can search for reviews by course number, professor name or browsing through the course catalog. Students can compare courses by viewing more than one course's information at a time.

Faculty who register have access to the reviews, too.

How many got Bs?

The site also offers grade histories, for courses overall and individual sections. For example, the site shows that of 160 Iowa State students in Hort 121 (Home Horticulture), 34 percent received As, 41 percent Bs and 17 percent Cs. Also provided is information on the average grade (2.97) and the percent of students who dropped the course (nearly 5 percent). The site also shows the grade histories for the two sections that make up the class.

The site says grade histories "are obtained directly from university records."

Judy Minnick, program coordinator in the registrar's office, confirmed that following the last two fall semesters, Pick-A-Prof has requested and received (for all ISU fall courses enrolling at least 10 students) course and section numbers, grade distributions, and numbers of students who enrolled in, completed and dropped each course. Instructor and student names were omitted.

Engl 105 at 1:10

A schedule planner provides a week's calendar and lets student try out class schedules. However, students cannot register for classes from the Pick-A-Prof site.

The Iowa State course catalog for next fall semester was added to the site on March 17. In addition, spring and summer class schedules are listed. These can be accessed through a course catalog.

For the faculty

Faculty who register can provide course descriptions and expectations for classes they teach. They also can provide personal biographies, office hours and contact information.

Another feature is the student feedback system, which can be used anytime during the semester. For example, at mid-semester faculty could check with their students on the pace of the course. To use the feedback system, faculty select survey questions and students to be surveyed. Pick-A-Prof collects the responses and statistically compiles the data. All feedback remains anonymous.

ISU reviews

Reviews on the Pick-A-Prof site ask students to rate their professors from "poor" to "excellent" (these show up as stars, with five as the top rating. The ratings are divided into "strengths" and "drawbacks."

Students also are asked for their GPAs, the grades they expect to receive in the courses they are evaluating, their majors and classifications. None of that information shows up on the reviews.

Very few reviews of Iowa State professors have been posted so far. Here are two that are on the site now:

Professor 1 -- ***


does a good job in the discussion portion of the class explaining topics from the week


This class is run horribly. the self guided computer tutorial is hard to understand, especially when the lab TA's are too busy to help you or don't understand the topics themselves. Don't take this class if you don't have a farming background!!!" - 02/27/2005

Professor 2 -- *****


XX explains things really well and keeps everything simple. Attending class is essential to understanding the material, but the book is okay too (amusing, yes amusing!). She uses overheads to give a step-by-step look at each concept that she teaches. The homework is identical to what she teaches and isn't too heavy at all (one assignment per week, with about 4-15 problems, and no assignment on test weeks).


She could do a better job of explaining where different variables come from. It seems like you go to class and this new variable for something just appears from nowhere. The only other drawback I can think of is that the tests are always on Fridays, but that's not XX's decision." - 11/19/2004

Web site

Pick-A-Prof can be found at