For University of Idaho student Brandon Jank, scheduling classes each semester requires two essential tools—a course catalogue and an online connection.

Before he registers, Jank, a sophomore computer science major at Idaho, taps into to "see how teachers are rated, see how hard their classes are, see what kind of teacher they are and how they fit into my paradigm."

Such web-based evaluations are the bane of some high school and college faculty. But students are using the sites to avoid tedious instructors and classes with—as one...

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