How Do L&S Departments Approach Student Appeals Concerning Grades?
The L&S Academic Planning Council advises all departments to have in place a process for dealing with questions and concerns of students who ask about appealing grades. This process should preserve the integrity of an instructor's grade and prevent excessive pressure on the instructor while still allowing for the appeal of an alleged injustice.
All L&S Departments are encouraged to establish procedures for considering student appeals of grades. This document provides guidance about factors to consider in setting up those procedures.
Following are some of the considerations departments might want to keep in mind:
- Students should be informed of the procedure (e.g., posting a notice of the procedure on a departmental bulletin board or providing notice in written materials or on a website).
- A student with concerns about a grade should always be referred first to the instructor who assigned the grade.
- A process should be available at the departmental level for a student who is not satisfied with the results of an appeal to the instructor.
- While an appeal may be either written or oral, it is often helpful to have a student focus the complaint and the issues by putting the appeal in writing.
- Different types of departmental structures are possible. An appeal may be reviewed, for example, by:
- The department chair, alone.
- A small group of members of the executive committee, with or without the chair as a member. Group membership might vary for appeals of different courses or contents.
- A standing committee of the department, e.g., a curriculum committee or an appeals committee.
- The entire executive committee.
- The hearing body should request relevant information from the instructor in response to the complaint, including grading criteria.
- A procedure should exist for accommodating the recommendations of the review committee, and it should be clear whether the recommendations are advisory (and to whom) or determining.
It is everyone's hope that grade appeals will be infrequent, and that they can be handled by explanation and communication at the departmental level. A chair who is confronted with a potentially difficult situation may want to consult with the appropriate academic Associate Dean or General Deans' Staff members from Student Academic Affairs (for undergraduate student issues). In any event, since Student Academic Affairs approves changes only in the case of clerical or computational error, a special notification will be required in the case of a grade change resulting from an appeal.