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12 September 2012

Student Grade Appeals

Just a quick note, mostly for my own benefit as an exercise. What is the institutional purpose and role for student-initiated grade appeals/challenges and what is the proper process? Professorial autonomy in the classroom should be sacrosanct. That said, professors, like our students, are human and are capable of bias, both overt and unconscious. Because of that, a third-party review system is necessary.

What exactly should be the purpose and role of the appeal system, though. To me, there seem to be two things that these appeals can do, but only one that they should do. First, grade challenges can be a time to adjudicate equity. Was the student's performance judged in a way consistent with the expectations in the syllabus? Additionally, was the the student's performance judged in a way that was consistent to the judging of his classmates? Second, grade challenges can be a time for the evaluation of a faculty member's pedagogical technique and implementation. Does the professor do an effecting job of getting the students to learn? Does the professor adequately measure that learning? Additionally, are the standards that the professor sets too rigorous? I contend that faculty evaluation already happens outside of this process and, thus, has no place in the appeals process. Faculty are typically reviewed annually by a committee and/or a department chair, and the course goals and outcomes are regularly assessed internally (and infrequently externally) for accreditation.

To put it succinctly, I believe that there is no place in the student grade appeals process for faculty evaluation; the only issue in these proceedings should be equitable treatment of the student.

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