(Updated and Approved September 2014; replaces previous version from May 1992)
Within the College of Literature, Science,and the Arts, instructors are expected to set fair and consistent grading procedures for their respective courses. The key to implementing fair grading procedures in courses across the College is that individual instructors adhere to grading rubrics that are applied evenly and consistently to all students within a respective course. If the grading rubric is used consistently for each student, then the final grade is assumed to be the correct grade. Nevertheless, students can inquire about a grade and subsequently initiate a grade grievance when they think that the grade was unfairly given.
Two principles should be clearly understood as part of the context of any grade grievance:
- A grade given by a faculty member may be changed only by that faculty member (Faculty Code B 5.0.1).
- While the Program wishes to see demonstrably unfair grades rectified, it will not automatically invoke the full procedure described below for every grievance. For example, a grievance based on the argument that one instructor’s grading standards are stricter than those of others will normally not be pursued.
Consultation with Instructor
The student should first confer with his/her instructor (and with the course coordinator, if there is one) to make sure that both are aware of all the pertinent facts and to identify the issues that are in dispute. This initial inquiry should take place within the first fifteen*University business days of the first full term following the term in which the disputed grade was issued. If, after this inquiry,the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s response,the student may choose to initiate a formal grade grievance. To initiate a formal grade grievance, the student should contact the Director of the Program in Biology or the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies of the home department of the course in question before the end of the fifth* week of classes in the first full term following the term in which the disputed grade was issued.
If the course is cross-listed with another school or LS&A department, the affiliation of the person responsible for submitting the final grade report should determine the department or school in which the grade grievance is processed.
Formal complaint to the Director of the Program in Biology or the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies in EEB or MCDB.
To initiate the formal grade grievance process,the student must convey in writing the basis for the complaint, with specific evidence in support of the argument that the grade either was given in error or was unfairly determined. This formal complaint also should summarize the outcome of the initial inquiry to the course instructor, indicating what aspects are in dispute. Upon receipt of the written complaint, the Program Director or Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies will ask the instructor to provide a written summary restating how the final grade was determined and to respond to the specific claims made by the student.
After receiving this information from both the student and the instructor, the Program Director or Associate Chair will then determine if sufficient evidence exists to convene the Program’s Grade Grievance Committee. If the Program Director or Associate Chair determines that there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is considered closed,and the original grade stands.
If the Program Director or Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies determines that the grade grievance should proceed,a date for a formal hearing with the Grade Grievance Committee will be set. The Grade Grievance Committee shall consist of the Program in Biology steering committee members (the Program Director and the two departmental Associate Chairs) and a student. The student member will be an undergraduate if the grievant an undergraduate, or a graduate student if the grievant is a graduate student.
If several appeals are being filed, all of which are derived from a common grievance, a single Grade Grievance committee will consider all of the appeals. If the grievants include both undergraduate and graduate students, the status of the student member of the Grade Grievance Committee shall be determined by the level of the course.
Grade Grievance Hearing
Once it has been determined that a formal hearing will be held, the Program Director or Associate Chair will empanel the appropriate Grade Grievance Committee. Both the student filing the grade grievance and the respective instructor will be provided with copies of the written student complaint and the instructor’s summary in advance of the formal hearing. During the formal hearing,the student will be asked to first present the basis of his or her complaint; the instructor will then be asked to present his or her explanation for how grades were determined. Following an open period of questions to all parties, i.e. the student, the instructor and the Grade Grievance committee members,the formal hearing will be adjourned.
V. Grade Grievance Committee’s Recommendation
The Grade Grievance Committee will then have ten* University business days to determine its recommendation and submit a written report to the Program in Biology steering committee and appropriate departmental chair.
If the Grade Grievance Committee decides that a grade change is not warranted, the Program Director or Associate Chair will convey this in writing to the student and the instructor. The original grade will stand and the matter is considered closed.
If the committee recommends a grade change,the Program Director or Associate Chair will communicate that decision directly to the instructor. The instructor will then be asked to respond in writing within five* University business days to the Program Director or Associate Chair indicating whether or not he/she will abide by the Grade Grievance Committee’s recommendation. If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the Program Director or Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies will in writing inform the student of the instructor’s decision and the student’s final course grade will be changed. The matter is considered closed.
If an instructor does not accept the Grade Grievance Committee’s recommendation to change the final grade, the original grade will stand. By College policy, a final course grade rests solely with the instructor and, as such, a course grade cannot be changed without the instructor’s consent.When this occurs, the Program Director or Associate Chair will convey in writing this decision to the student.The matter is considered closed. There is no appeal beyond the Department.
For further information, please contact the Student Services Manager at 734-764-2446.
*All time frames are based on faculty availability and are subject to change without warning. Student should consult with the Program in Biology for specific timing.
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