Appeal of Final Course Grade

Students should be protected from prejudice and capriciousness in the awarding of grades. They are entitled to a reasonable explanation of their performance in relation to the standards of the course. They also are entitled to (1) a review of their grade by a responsible group of faculty members in cases where the student can establish a reasonable doubt that the grade was awarded fairly and (2) a reconsideration of the grade where prejudice or capriciousness is established. A student may appeal a final course grade by the following steps:

Step 1

If a student has a question concerning the final grade, he or she should discuss the matter with the faculty member within the first three weeks of the following semester. If the faculty member who awarded the grade is not on campus during the regular term, the student should contact the Office of Academic Affairs or the department chair. When the faculty member who awarded the grade is not available, the department chair or someone designated by the chair would, in normal circumstances, be responsible for reaffirming or adjusting the grade. The original faculty member would be consulted whenever possible. If no agreement is reached between the student and the faculty member, the student must file an appeal letter with the Office of Academic Affairs by the end of the fourth week.

Step 2

The chair of the department concerned then mediates negotiations between the faculty member and the student (normally for two weeks, or the fifth and sixth weeks of the term). If the department chair is the faculty member concerned, the Office of Academic Affairs will appoint a mediator.

Step 3

If mediated negotiations are unsuccessful, the student may file a formal written petition with the AAC before the end of the eighth week of the semester stating the reasons why he or she feels the grade was awarded in a prejudicial or capricious manner and presenting evidence to support the case. As with other petitions, the student may request the presence or absence of the AAC student representatives. The petitioning student will be responsible for presenting any papers, tests or exams that were returned to him or her. The faculty member will be responsible for making available any papers bearing on the case that were not returned to the student.

The AAC receives the petition and based on their experience as educators and their evaluation of the fairness of the grade, decides by a simple majority vote whether to hear the case. If they choose not to hear the case, the committee has completed its review of the appeal. If the AAC decides to hear the case, the student and the faculty member will present any evidence or other information that is required by the AAC. In those cases where a member of the committee is involved as the faculty member who awarded the grade, that member shall resign from the case and the Faculty Affairs Committee, serving as a nominating committee, shall appoint another faculty member to serve on the AAC to hear the case. The committee also may call for whatever other information members deem significant to their decision, including testimony from the mediating faculty member from step two. The mediating faculty member also will be heard if he or she so desires. The AAC will then decide if prejudice or caprice was involved in determining the final grade. A two-thirds majority vote is required to establish prejudice or caprice, in which case the grade will be reconsidered. In the absence of a two-thirds majority vote, the case is closed.

Step 4

In reconsidering the original grade, the department chair, in consultation with the AAC, should review all pertinent materials. If a change in grade is deemed warranted, the new grade will be established by the department chair in consultation with the AAC. If the department chair is the faculty member who awarded the grade, the same person who functioned as mediator will determine the grade.

Step 5

All decisions of the committee on such petitions will be subject to automatic review by the Office of Academic Affairs and thereafter move into the normal channels of the university.