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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Pick-A-Prof co-founders discuss options

Pick-A-Prof co-founders Chris Chilek and John Cunningham participated in the Conference on Student Government Associations to discuss how student governments can make the Web site’s service free for students.
“A lot of student governments we work with ask us to attend conferences to explain our services to other student governments that might be interested in our site,” said Karen Bragg, director of University Relations for Pick-A-Prof.
Pick-A-Prof (www.pickaprof.com) allows students to post professor reviews and rate professors based on their workloads, lecture styles and exam types. The site also offers grade distributions for each instructor.
When Chilek and Cunningham, both Class of 1999, founded the site three years ago, students could browse and post information for free. Accessing the Pick-A-Prof site now costs $5 a semester.
Texas A&M students can purchase this membership from the A&M Bookstore located in the Memorial Student Center and receive $5 back when they use the Pick-A-Prof site to reserve their textbooks online from participating local bookstores. But the service is free for students at universities such as the University of Maryland, where the student government pays for the Pick-A-Prof service.
Bragg said some student governments pay the Pick-A-Prof fee for students, while others add it to student fees.
Brooks Landgraf, speaker of the A&M Student Senate, said no legislation pertaining to Pick-A-Prof is currently on its agenda, and declined to comment on whether the senate would take up the issue in the future.
The Student Government Association offers a grade distribution system similar to Pick-a-Prof on its Web site (sga.tamu.edu), which allows students to view the breakdown of grades in any given course by professors from as far back as1985, Landgraf said
This service is free of charge, but lacks student reviews.
“When I register for classes I first check the grade distribution from the SGA Web site, then I check the student reviews from Pick-A-Prof,” said Anna Hollier, a sophomore finance major.
According to feedback from panels of students in focus groups, the student reviews posted on Pick-A-Prof are what keep users coming back to the site, Bragg said.
Pick-A-Prof also offers a new service called Professor Support System, which allows professors to post their syllabi and biographical information on the site prior to registration. Professors can use this feature to make their own course evaluations.
Associate professor of English Paula Matthews said while the information should be available to students, she would have mixed feelings about participating in the Professor Support System
“Why don’t we just have this for the University instead of on a commercial site,” Matthews said.
Matthews said she supports full disclosure of information to students, admitting that she looked herself up on the Pick-A-Prof Web site when it first began. But she said the site would work best if everyerson in a class wrote a review.
The Pick-A-Prof service began as a pilot program at A&M and the University of Texas at Austin, and is now utilized on more than 50 campuses nationwide.

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