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Student creates website to rate syllabi

Bryan Krajewski, a sophomore business major at the University of Buffalo, recently developed a website where students can upload and comment on professors’ class syllabi.

Similar to the idea of the popular website “Rate My Professor,” SyllabusRate.com is a student resource that includes syllabi from between 100 and 150 colleges and universities across the nation, now also including Grand Valley State University.

“I was a student who would register for the maximum (number) of credit hours each semester, get the syllabus on the first day of class, then add and drop classes until I finally got a course load that I could appreciate,” Krajewski said.

“I liked using Rate My Professor, but it just wasn't thorough enough. So, I thought, ‘wouldn't it be awesome if students could view the syllabus for a class before registering, so they would be able to see materials, class content, expectations, assignments and homework, grading policies, attendance policies and more?’ I then pieced all the information I had together and came up with the idea for Syllabus Rate.”

Krajewski had been interested in websites since the age of 13, designing a support website for design programs GIMP and Photoshop where users could post work, get help and download extras.

Krajewski purchased the domain name www.syllabusrate.com in January of 2013, and sat on the idea for almost a year to see if it was something he actually wanted to go through with, finally launching Syllabus Rate in December of 2013.

“The goal of www.syllabusrate.com is to give students an advantage and help them out. Students pay a premium dollar for college classes and they should know exactly what they're paying for. Students are able to help each other out,” Krajewski said. “In addition, professors can upload their course syllabus if they're looking for feedback and insight from students on their class.”

One GVSU professor that uses Syllabus Rate is Wendy Burns-Ardolino.

"I post sample syllabi, so students and other faculty can see what I have taught before and have an idea of how I construct my courses," she said.

However, Burns-Ardolino warns students that syllabi on the site are not always the most up-to-date.

"I think most faculty are constantly improving their syllabi and their teaching, so a sample syllabus online is just that -- a sample," Burns-Ardolino said. "It's possible that a faculty member will change the books and the assignments and the order of readings etc. the next time the course is taught. So, while I always think more information is helpful, students and other faculty should be aware that curriculum and course syllabi are always changing."

Syllabus Rate differs from Rate My Professor in many ways. For example, Syllabus Rate is more thorough than Rate My Professor in the sense of class workload. Students can view and upload course syllabi, so they know everything about a class before registering for it. With Syllabus Rate, the class is rated rather than the professor.

Syllabus Rate does not have irrelevant things like professor hotness, Krajewski said. Students are asked to rate the class out of five stars and leave comments and feedback. Professors are not rated as a person since the website is focusing on classroom requirements as a whole.

For GVSU’s fall 2013 semester, the number of students who dropped classes during the designated drop time was 3,186 students. One of the goals of Syllabus Rate is to educate students on what a class will entail. With this, the number of students dropping classes could be reduced when students had a more concrete understanding of classroom expectations.

“Students will know everything about the class before registering for it. This way, they can decide if the class is a good fit for them,” Krajewski said. “From my experience, most students who drop classes drop them because the class was not a good fit for them or they came into the class clueless and unprepared. With Syllabus Rate, students will be more prepared for the classes that they intend on taking.”

Students and staff from GVSU can currently upload their course syllabi to Syllabus Rate for other students to reference when registering for classes, reducing the stress of going into a class without previous knowledge. 

hlentz@lanthorn.com 



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