This article presents a synthesis of previous ideas relating to student evaluation of teaching (SET) results in higher education institutions (HEIs), with particular focus upon possible validity issues and matters that HEI decision-makers should consider prior to interpreting survey results and using them summatively. Furthermore, the research explores relevant legal issues (namely, defamation, breach of the duty to take reasonable care for an employee's welfare, breach of the duty of trust and confidence, breach of the right to privacy and, if the lecturer is forced to resign as a consequence of such infringements, constructive dismissal) that decision-makers, in UK HEIs, should appreciate if survey results are widely published or used to inform employment decisions. The resulting recommendations should enable HEIs to avoid litigation and/or a deterioration of the employer-employee relationship of trust whilst still allowing SETs to be used for quality enhancement purposes. The research is timely as most studies to date have been completed in the context of the US or Australian education systems. Additionally, current major changes in the UK higher education sector, such as the increase in the use of the student as customer metaphor and potential job losses, mean that decision-makers need to be cautious if utilising SET results summatively.
- performance management
- student evaluation of teaching (SET)