Updated and Approved February 2012

I.  Preamble

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 presumed to be the correct grade.  Because instructors are in the best position to determine the quality of student work, a grievance cannot be grounded on a mere disagreement with a grade, nor can it normally be based on the claim that one instructor’s grading standards are stricter than those of others.  For a grievance to be considered, a student must normally provide evidence that the grading has deviated from previously stated standards, or applied such standards inconsistently, or failed to take into full consideration all graded components of a course, or assigned a grade on a basis other than course performance.

II.  Consultation with Instructor

The first step in inquiring about the fairness of a final grade should be directed to the lead instructor of the course. 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.  The student must confer with the lead instructor to make sure that both parties are aware of all pertinent facts and to identify the issues in dispute. Both parties must engage in an open-minded discussion of these issues and try to reach a solution both regard as equitable.  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 Chair of Undergraduate Studies (CUS) of Philosophy before the end of the fifth week of classes in the first full term following the term in which the disputed grade was issued (or within five weeks after the submission of a grade replacing an Incomplete, if that time period lies within a full term).  The initial contact may involve a preliminary oral discussion of the basis of the student’s complaint.  If, after this discussion, the student still believes that a formal grade grievance is warranted, the student must proceed in writing.

III. Formal complaint to Chair of Undergraduate Studies (CUS)

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 should summarize the outcome of the initial inquiry to the course instructor, indicating what aspects are in dispute. The student should accompany this letter with any relevant graded materials and all written grading rubrics provided by the instructor during the term.  Upon receipt of the written complaint, the CUS will provide this complaint to the instructor and ask the instructor to provide a written summary stating how the final grade was determined and to respond to the specific claims made by the student.  Normally the instructor will be expected to respond within two weeks.

After receiving this information from both the student and the instructor, the CUS will then determine if sufficient evidence exists to convene the Department’s Grade Grievance Appeal Board.  If the CUS determines that there is insufficient evidence for the grade grievance, the matter is considered closed, and the original grade stands.   The CUS shall inform the student and instructor of this decision in writing.

If the CUS determines that the grade grievance should proceed, a date for a formal hearing with the Grade Grievance Appeal Board will be set in consultation with all parties.

IV.  Grade Grievance Hearing

The CUS shall convey all written materials to the Philosophy Department Grade Grievance Appeal Board.  For Undergraduates, the Board shall consist of the CUS, one other faculty member on that committee (appointed by the CUS), and one student, selected randomly from a group of volunteer undergraduate majors. For graduate students the Appeal Board will consist of the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee, one other faculty member on that committee (appointed by the Committee chair), and one student, selected randomly from a group of volunteer Ph.D. students.  If the instructor in question is a member of the Appeal Board, then she/he will be excused and the relevant committee chair will appoint a substitute faculty member. The Appeal Board may, at its discretion, ask another faculty member to act as a consultant on the issue.

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 written response 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 Appeal Board members, the formal hearing will be adjourned.

V.  Grade Grievance Appeal Board’s Recommendation

The Grade Grievance Appeal Board will then have ten University business days to determine its recommendation and submit a written report to the CUS. 

If the Grade Grievance Appeal Board decides that a grade change is not warranted, the CUS will convey this in writing to the student and the instructor.  The original grade will stand and the matter is considered closed.  

If the Appeal Board recommends a grade change, the CUS 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 CUS indicating whether or not he/she will abide by the Grade Grievance Appeal Board’s recommendation.  If the instructor agrees to a grade change, the CUS 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 Appeal Board’s recommendation to change the final grade, the original grade will stand.  By College policy (Faculty Code B 5.01), a final course grade rests solely with the instructor and, as such, a course grade cannot be changed without the primary instructor’s consent. [1] When this occurs, the CUS will convey in writing this decision to the student.  The matter is considered closed.  There is no appeal beyond the Department.  However, the Appeal Board may, at its discretion, prepare a letter setting forth its view of the instructor’s conduct and forward the letter to the Department Chair for inclusion in the instructor’s personnel file. The Board may also prepare a letter for the student; the student may request to have a copy of the letter retained by the Office of the Assistant Dean.



[1] An exception may occur when the instructor is no longer at the University of Michigan. In that case, if the CUS has been unable to elicit a response from the instructor, the CUS may approve a grade change in consultation with the Appeal Board and the Chair of the Department.

 


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