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Proposing a working definition for the concept of teacher’s pet in the Iranian higher education context


The teacher’s pet phenomenon is generally regarded as a negative concept by both teachers and students as it violates the principle of fairness. A careful review of the existing literature reveals that the concept of ‘teacher’s pet’ is taken for granted and therefore no inclusive definition has been provided. In response to this gap, the present paper aims to offer an inclusive definition of the concept of teacher’s pet in the Iranian higher education context, placing more emphasis on instructors’ and students’ perceptions. To this end, thirty graduate- and undergraduate students from both genders in addition to fifteen instructors were interviewed. Interpretative phenomenological analysis of the interviews yielded three master themes: (1) ‘pet’s goals’, (2) ‘advantages gained’, and (3) ‘what a teacher’s pet does’. Moreover, a number of subthemes were identified for each of the main themes. Taking the three master themes into account, a working definition is proposed. In the end, the results are discussed and implications of the proposed definition are presented.

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This project was financially supported by Ferdowsi University of Mashhad (contract code: 43009).

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Correspondence to Behzad Ghonsooly.

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The authors declare that there is no potential conflict of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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Vahidnia, F., Ghonsooly, B. & Shahriari, H. Proposing a working definition for the concept of teacher’s pet in the Iranian higher education context. Soc Psychol Educ 22, 113–132 (2019).

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  • Teacher’s pet
  • Working definition
  • Higher education
  • Perception
  • Iran