The Department of Sociology has confidence in the qualifications and good judgment of its faculty and believes the instructor is in the best position to determine the quality of a student’s work. Nevertheless, there are instances when a student feels that his or her academic performance has been unfairly or improperly graded. When this situation arises, discussion and arbitration can help ascertain if there is a wrong which should be righted. However, it is ultimately only the course instructor who can determine the substantive value of a student’s performance, and only the instructor can change the grade, except when a faculty member has left the institution. In that event, the undergraduate director will resolve the problem with the student.

To successfully appeal a grade, the student must make the case a grade was unjustly assigned and substantially different from the grade that was justified. The difference between an A- and a B+ is not, for example, a substantial difference. Dissatisfaction with a grade alone is not sufficient for an appeal nor, except in extraordinary circumstances, will appeals be heard where a student has not attended class regularly or turned in all required work.  

Grade appeal procedures are available only for review of alleged capricious grading, and not for review of the judgment of an instructor in assessing the quality of a student’s work. Capricious grading constitutes any of the following: the assignment of a grade to a particular student on some basis other than course performance; the assignment of a grade to a particular student by more exacting or demanding standards than were applied to other students in that course; or the assignment of a grade by a substantial departure from the instructor’s previously announced standards. Changes in course or examination requirements that apply equally to all students shall not ordinarily be grounds for an individual student’s grievance.  

The first step in any grade grievance is to speak with the instructor of the course; this should be done within three weeks of receiving notice of the grade. If you think you have a case for grieving a grade, email socadvisor@umich.edu for additional procedural information.