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Student evaluations of teaching: emerging surveillance and resistance

Kayas, Oliver George and Assimakopoulos, Costas and Hines, Tony (2020) Student evaluations of teaching: emerging surveillance and resistance. Studies in Higher Education. ISSN 0307-5079

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Abstract

Despite previous research claiming surveillance emerges from student evaluations of teaching (SET), there is an absence of research using surveillance theory to determine whether it emerges, the nature of the surveillance should it emerge, and how academics resist its effects. Through an analysis of four university business schools, a top-down vertical surveillance imbued with disciplinary procedures is identified, involving a few managers scrutinising many academics through the observations of many students. A bottom-up vertical surveillance is also identified, involving many academics scrutinising a few managers through the observations of many students. The similarities and differences between mystery shopping and the surveillance emerging from SET are also explored to highlight the crucial role students play in the surveillance. A further contribution is made through an analysis of how academics engage in resistance activities designed to disrupt the flow of performance information between observer and observed.

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