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.
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
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.