Undergraduate Catalog
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Undergraduate Grade Appeal Procedure

Purpose of the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Procedure

The responsibility for evaluating student work and assigning grades lies with the instructor of the course. The purpose of the grade appeal procedure is to provide a review process 1) for a student to understand the reasons why the grade was assigned, 2) for the instructor to become aware of and correct possible errors, 3) for appropriate supervisors at the department and college level to review the basis on which a grade has been awarded and to correct cases in which a grade is determined to have been assigned based on arbitrary or capricious action, or other reasons not related to academic performance. If, after departmental and college review, the grade is still in dispute, an appeal may be submitted to the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee, which consists of faculty and student representatives, for final resolution.

In all cases of a disputed grade, the student has burden of proof that the grade assigned was not appropriate. If the case has not been resolved at the student/instructor level, then the student should submit a written petition that would include a copy of the syllabus along with copies of any tests, quizzes, assignments or other written work completed and graded as part of the class requirements to the appropriate step of review. At each step of further review, copies of any previously submitted materials and any written responses to those petitions should be included.

It is important to distinguish grounds for grade appeal from questions about quality of instruction. Successful grade appeals should be based on evidence that the student performed at a level sufficient to warrant a different grade. It is important for students to bring to the instructor’s and the department’s attention perceived deficiencies in instruction, but these by themselves do not normally warrant a change in grade. For a successful grade appeal, the student should be able to show, for example, not that the student could have earned a grade of “B” under different circumstances, but rather that the student actually did earn a grade of “B” according the standards set out on the syllabus for that course, but was assigned a lower grade. If, in the opinion, of the department or the college, deficiencies in instruction are so grave as to warrant an alternative accommodation, then the proper remedy will normally involve alternative assignments or examinations to allow the student the opportunity to demonstrate the appropriate level of competency in that area to earn a different grade than the grade originally assigned. The decision about these cases should be made at the departmental or college level. In disputed cases where the appeal is based primarily upon perceived quality of instruction, the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee has the option of referring the case directly to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs.

Procedures

A student wishing to appeal a grade must follow Steps 1-4 listed below. (The deadlines listed below apply to the dates when classes are in session during the fall or spring semesters.) If a student fails to observe the deadlines, the decision made in the previous step will be final. If a department or college fails to respond to the student’s complaint within the deadline, the student should contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs. The deadline for filing the appeal should be extended appropriately to ensure that the student retains the opportunity to pursue the appeal at the next step. All correspondence and records will be retained in the office in which the complaint is resolved.

Step 1: The student should first consult with the instructor, at the latest within two weeks of the beginning of the subsequent fall or spring semester, in an effort to provide a satisfactory resolution of the complaint. If the student cannot schedule a meeting with the instructor, the student may contact the department chair, who will schedule the meeting between the student and the instructor. The only exception to this step is the case in which the instructor is unavailable. In this case, the student may proceed directly to Step 2.

Step 2: If the complaint is not resolved in Step 1, the student may present the complaint in writing by the end of the third week in the semester to the chair of the department in which the course was offered. Included in the petition the student should attach the appropriate materials described above, and if available, the instructor’s written explanation for the assigned grade. The department chair will attempt to resolve the complaint in consultation with the instructor and the student. The department chair will provide a written response to the student within two weeks from the time the written complaint has been received. If the department chair was the instructor of the course, the student may proceed directly to Step 3.

Step 3: If the complaint has not been resolved at the departmental level, the student may appeal further by presenting a written petition to the dean of the college in which the course was offered, along with a copy of the materials presented at the previous stage and any written responses received from the department. At the latest, this petition should be presented within one week after the departmental response. Within two weeks of the time the complaint was received, the dean may use any resources available to resolve the conflict.

If the dean finds that the request does not have merit, the dean shall notify the student in writing, with copies sent to the instructor and the department chair. If the dean and the department chair agree that the grade should be changed, the dean shall be empowered to change the grade without the instructor’s consent. Either the student or the instructor may appeal this decision in Step 4. If the dean and the department chair do not agree, the dean shall present his or her view in writing to the student, with copies to the instructor and the department chair, so that the student may include that information in an appeal to the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee for final resolution of the complaint.

Step 4: If the complaint has not been resolved through the previous steps, the student may present a grade appeal petition addressed directly to the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee through the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs. Copies of written materials and petitions presented at the previous steps, along with any written responses received from the department or the college, must be included with the petition at the time of submission. The deadline for submission of a petition is March 15 for grades awarded during the previous fall term, and October 15 for grades awarded during the previous spring or summer terms. (The Grade Appeals Committee does not meet during summer months.) The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs will forward the petition along with the attached materials to the chair of the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee, who will distribute copies to the members of the Committee.

The Committee members shall review the petition and the attached materials and then forward their recommendation to the chair of the Committee about whether a hearing is warranted in this case. If a majority of the Committee does not vote that the case merits a hearing, the grade stands as issued. If a majority of the Committee votes in favor of a hearing, the chair of the Committee shall inform the student and the instructor, and shall arrange a hearing to be attended by the student, the instructor, and the members of the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee or their designated alternates. Copies of the Committee’s decision for the hearing shall be sent to the department chair and dean of the college.

Prior to the hearing, the instructor should be given a copy of the student’s petition and supporting materials. If members of the Committee feel that additional factual information is needed prior to or after the hearing to render a decision, the chair of the Committee should inform the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs of that request in writing, and that office should make every effort to provide that information in writing to the Committee. At the hearing, first the student and then the instructor will each have the opportunity to present their cases orally and to present any other written materials they deem appropriate. The Committee members shall have the opportunity to ask questions to both the student and instructor. At the end of the meeting, the student and then the instructor shall be given the opportunity for brief closing statements.

The chair of the Committee should inform the student, the instructor, the department chair, the college, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs of the Committee’s decision in writing within one week of the hearing. If a majority of the Committee agrees that the grade should be changed, the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs will notify Student Records of the grade change. Otherwise the grade shall remain as recorded. The decision of the Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee shall be final.

The Undergraduate Grade Appeals Committee shall be composed of seven members and seven alternates constituted as follows:

A chair designated by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs, a faculty member and alternate designated by the dean of the college involved, two faculty members and two alternates designated by the Faculty Senate, one student and one alternate designated by the college, two students and two alternates selected through the Student Government Association.

Although the primary responsibility of the Committee is to review grade appeals and assign the appropriate grade in cases where the appeal is upheld, the Committee shall also report any findings of discrimination or prejudice to the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Programs for further consideration and possible action.

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Last Updated: 9/18/13