Program in the Environment
Updated and Approved August 2012
Normally students agree with an instructor's evaluation of their work. Nevertheless, there are instances when a student feels that his or her academic performance has been unfairly or improperly graded. Examples of unfair or improper grading include prejudice, capricious changes in the course requirements, and lack of uniformity in applied judgment. When these complaints arise, discussion and arbitration reviews can bring out the factual basis for the situation and ascertain if there is a wrong that should be righted. However, such review is not intended to dispute the instructor's right to make his or her own evaluation of a student's work.
The following procedures have been established by the Program in the Environment (hereafter, the Program) in compliance with Section A.2.05 of the Faculty Code in order to deal efficiently with student complaints regarding alleged unfair or improper grading.
1. A) The student must communicate with the instructor of the course in question, in writing within 15 working days after the posting of final grades, stating his/her reasons for requesting a change in grade.
1. B) The instructor must reply promptly (within 15 working days). She/he must reply in writing that is dated, stating his/her reasons for the assignment of the grade in question.
1. C) A student's complaint will be considered for review by the Program only after the student and his or her instructor have discussed the matter together as described in 1A & B.
2. If a student is unable to obtain resolution of an alleged unfair or improper grade through discussions with his or her instructor, the student may seek redress by filing a written complaint with the Program Associate Director. The written complaint must be made within seven working days after the student receives the explanation by the instructor stating his/her reasons for the assignment of the grade in question. If the Program Associate Director is included in an appeal, the Associate Director will delegate administering the subsequent appeals process to the Director.
3. A) The Associate Director or the Director of the Program will appoint a Review Committee on Grading Appeals (hereafter, Review Committee). The Review Committee shall consist of at least three members. It shall be chaired by the Associate Director or the Director of the Program. The remaining two members shall be named ad hoc for each case that arises; one shall be chosen from among the current members of the Program’s Advisory Committee or faculty with at least a 25% appointment in PitE, and the other shall be a peer representative. The peer representative shall be an undergraduate selected by the Review Committee Chair from among students in the Program volunteering to serve on a panel from which Review Committee members would be chosen when needed.. If there are no student volunteers or panel members available, a representative will be selected by the Associate Director or the Director of the Program.
3. B) Initial arrangements regarding time and place for any meetings with the Review Committee and the instructor and/or student may be made by telephone or in person, but the Chair of the Review Committee shall confirm such understandings in writing.
3. C) Meetings with the Review Committee and the instructor and/or student shall be held at a time convenient for all parties concerned.
3. D) The Review Committee will have the final responsibility for promptly initiating and conducting an adequate investigation of student complaints regarding alleged unfair or improper grading.
4. At the discretion of the Chair of the Review Committee, an informal meeting may be held between an arbitrator appointed by the Chair and the two concerned parties in order to seek resolution of their differences of opinion. If the differences cannot be resolved in this manner, or if the Review Committee Chair believes the allegations are of a more serious nature, the Chair may proceed with a formal review by the whole Review Committee.
5. A) The Chair of the Review Committee will notify the student and instructor of the date and time of the formal hearing in writing at least two weeks before the hearing date. The student and instructor will be provided an opportunity to submit supportive documentation for review by the Review Committee. The Review Committee will provide each party with copies of all documents that it has received at least 3 business days before the formal hearing.
5. B) For a formal review, all available course work should be available to the student, instructor, and members of the Review Committee. The student is responsible for presenting work which was turned back to him/ her.
5. C) At any meeting held before the Review Committee, both the student and the instructor shall appear at the same time.
5. D) The student has the burden of establishing that the grade that he/she received was inappropriate.
6. If the Review Committee finds that the Instructor has not acted fairly or properly, it should attempt to persuade the instructor to change the grade. Should this attempt prove unsuccessful, the committee may at its discretion prepare a letter setting forth its view of the instructors conduct and forward the letter as a matter of record to the LSA Dean’s office noting the instructor refused to change the grade. The letter will be filed with the LSA Dean’s office, with a copy for the instructors file.
7. The Review Committee will notify the student and instructor in writing of its decision, within five business days of the hearing. The decisions of the Review Committee with regard to the validity of the grade grievance and any appropriate remedy are final.
8. A report stating what procedures were followed and what decision were reached will be sent to the LSA Assistant Dean of Student Academic Affairs within five business days after the conclusion of the review process.
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