AbstractThis study critically examines the value of a university-based staff-student shadowing scheme, the aims of which were to increase staff understanding of the daily experience of students and through this to suggest ways in which students’ experience could be enhanced, for example through improvements to services, systems or facilities. The value, as perceived by eleven staff participants, is situated within an exploration of issues of ethics and power relations arising from the application of a limited form of corporate ethnography to a higher education context, when both researcher and ‘shadowers’ are insiders.
Shadowers were drawn from a range of academic and non-academic roles across the University, with differing levels of seniority. Students were volunteers representing a variety of programmes. Principal research methods were interviews with staff, together with questionnaire surveys of staff and students and my own participation as a shadower. The project was conducted as insider/practitioner action research and was, in a sense, institutional research into a form of institutional research, investigating the insights gained by staff.
The study employed ethnographic methods to explore ethical issues which emerged for participants and the effects of power relations and positions on perceptions of the scheme, its operation and outcomes. These are discussed with reference to Foucault’s writings on discipline, surveillance and power. The study raises questions about shadowing as a method, discussing in particular its focus on unique experiences of individuals, thus aiming to contribute to the limited body of literature in this area.
A key contribution of the study is its exploration of the interplay of power relations in a senior management-initiated scheme, within a context of increased marketisation in higher education in which students may be more likely to perceive themselves as consumers.
|Date of Award||20 Feb 2014|
|Supervisor||Bridget Egan (Supervisor) & Rachel Locke (Supervisor)|