English Language and Literature Department
Updated and Approved June 2012
The Department of English Language and Literature strives to set fair and consistent grading procedures. However, students may inquire about a grade and subsequently initiate a grade grievance when they think a 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 5.01). A grade given in a class taught by a teaching assistant may be changed only by the faculty supervisor of the course. Departmental grievance procedures are intended to issue in a recommendation, for or against a change, to the appropriate faculty member.
- While the Department 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.
II. Consultation with Instructor
The student should first confer with his/her instructor (and with the course supervisor, 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.
III. Formal Complaints to Grade Grievance Officer and Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS)
If the first step does not lead to a resolution, the student should then write a letter detailing his/her objections and send it with all the written work for the course to the department's grade grievance officer. Grievances should be filed by end of the fifth* week of classes in the first full term following the term in which the disputed grade was issued.
The grade grievance officer will invite the instructor to reply in writing to the objections of the student. Any such communication will be made available to the student.
If the grievance cannot be resolved in conversations between the instructor, the student, and the grade grievance officer, the case goes forward to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). All pertinent written documents will be forwarded to the DUS, and the DUS will also meet separately with the officer, the instructor, and the student to obtain their accounts of the case. After considering the case, the DUS will make a recommendation to all parties.
After receiving this information from both the student and the instructor, the DUS will then determine if sufficient evidence exists to convene the Department’s Grade Grievance Committee. If the DUS determines that there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is considered closed, and the original grade stands.
If the DUS determines that the grade grievance should proceed, a date for a formal hearing with the Grade Grievance Committee will be set.
I. Grade Grievance Hearing
Once it has been determined that a formal hearing will be held, the DUS will empanel the appropriate Departmental 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.
II. 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 DUS.
If the Grade Grievance Committee decides that a grade change is not warranted, the DUS 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 DUS 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 DUS indicating whether or not he/she will abide by the Grade Grievance Committee’s recommendation. If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the DUS 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 DUS will convey in writing this decision to the student. The matter is considered closed; there is no appeal beyond the Department.
If a grade change is permitted, a Supplemental Grade Report must be submitted by the professor so the student can have the grade reported on his/her academic record.
For further information please contact the Undergraduate Administrator at 734-764-6330
*All time frames are based on faculty availability and are subject to change without warning. Students should consult with the department for specific timing. English Language & Literature – 5/24/2012.
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