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Determinants of online professor reviews: an elaboration likelihood model perspective

Yaojie Li (Department of Management and Marketing, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA)
Xuan Wang (Department of Information Systems, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas, USA)
Craig Van Slyke (Department of Computer Information Systems, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana, USA)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 22 December 2022

Issue publication date: 27 November 2023




Drawing on the elaboration likelihood model (ELM), the authors examine the influence of perceived professor teaching qualities, as central cues, on online professor ratings. Also, our study investigates how the volume and period of reviews, as peripheral cues, affect online professor ratings.


Leveraging stratified random sampling, the authors collect reviews of 892 Information Systems professors from 250 American universities. The authors employ regression models while conducting robustness tests through multi-level logistic regression and causal inference methods.


Our results suggest that the central route from perceived professor qualities to online professor ratings is significant, including most qualitative pedagogical factors except positive assessment. In addition to course difficulty, the effect of the peripheral route is limited due to deficient diagnosticity.

Research limitations/implications

Our primary concern about the data validity is a lack of a competing and complementary dataset. However, an institutional evaluation survey or an experimental study can corroborate our findings in future research.

Practical implications

Online professor review sites can enhance their perceived diagnosticity and credibility by increasing review vividness and promoting site interactivity. In addition to traditional institutional evaluations, professors can obtain insightful feedback from review sites to improve their teaching effectiveness.


To our best knowledge, this study is the first attempt to employ the ELM and accessibility-diagnosticity theory in explicating the information processing of online professor reviews. It also sheds light on various determinants and routes to persuasion, thus providing a novel theoretical perspective on online professor reviews.



The authors would like to thank the editors and the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of the manuscript and their many insightful comments and suggestions, which helped us improve this paper.


Li, Y., Wang, X. and Van Slyke, C. (2023), "Determinants of online professor reviews: an elaboration likelihood model perspective", Internet Research, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 2086-2108.



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