Graphic
|

Six Tips for Handling Grade Complaints

by Peter Connor

It’s a given—students are going to complain about the grades they receive. Also given, is your responsibility to handle such complaints. Generally speaking, this will go far better if you pre-establish your classroom protocols, put them in writing and discuss them on the first day of class. Include a page in your syllabus providing a clear picture of your grading policy, the criteria by which grades will be earned, and any attendance and class participation requirements that play into the formula. In addition, spell out the circumstances by which a grade might be reviewed and changed. You’ve put a lot of effort into creating a level playing field, one on which each student has an equal opportunity to make their mark. Inform your students of this. Explain that any request to review an exam, paper, or project in order to have its grade changed puts you in a very difficult position. In fact, requesting extra consideration is requesting an unfair advantage over other students. Explain that tilting the playing field that way will require an extremely sound argument.

Here are some grading policy suggestions for your syllabus:

■ Establish a 24-hour buffer following all class sessions in which exams, papers and projects are returned that absolutely no grade discussions will be allowed. Apply the same 24-hour rule to the time period after which grades have been posted on an electronic bulletin board. In addition, clearly explain that grade disagreements will only be discussed in a scheduled appointment.

■ In the 24 hours after receiving their grades, suggest that students who are disappointed reexamine their assignment or syllabus instructions carefully. Did they follow them correctly? An essay, for instance, must tackle the relevant points in the question. A paper or project must satisfy the scope or fulfill the goals laid out in the instructions. If the requirements are not satisfied, there is no basis for a complaint.

■ In addition, suggest that students take advantage of the 24-hour rule to examine your margin-comments. If the reason for the grade they received remains unclear, or they feel that credit was withheld or points were unreasonably deducted, they may then make an appointment. During that time you will be happy to explain your reasoning, go over their work, and discuss those areas which need improvement. Hint: Post your office hours and try to confine these appointments to those hours.

■ Ask your students to come to the appointment prepared. Require that their complaint be in writing, and that they explain their disagreement in specific detail. Instruct them to bring relevant lecture notes, reading assignments and other supporting evidence with which to illustrate their reasoning—and then to be open to discussing how, when, why, or where they went wrong, as well.

■ Ask your students to highlight specific sections of a paper, or questions on an exam, so that you can focus on their main areas of concern. Explain that if a mistake on your part is clearly evident, it will be rectified. Also explain that if it seems that a contradiction exists between the evidence they present and the course material provided, you will make every effort to clarify, explain and/or demonstrate otherwise. Whichever the case may be, promise a rich and rewarding discussion.

■ Lastly, inform your students that if they are absolutely convinced that they have been wronged, and that their final grade or GPA is adversely affected, there are departmental and/or university grievance procedures through which they have every right to lodge a complaint and register an appeal.

One final note: if a test has been given and graded by a teaching assistant, she or he is the one positioned to provide the most help. Instruct your students to make an appointment with that person. Going over the head of a teaching assistant is an unnecessary slight and is not likely to move the student’s agenda forward. If a grading issue remains unresolved after meeting with a teaching assistant, students may then request a meeting with you directly.

 

Short URL: http://www.adjunctnation.com/?p=634

Leave a Reply

Keep in Touch With AdjunctNation

Graphic Graphic Graphic

Graphic

Want to see your advertisement on
AdjunctNation.com? Click here.

Graphic

Want to see your advertisement on
AdjunctNation.com? Click here.

Graphic

Want to see your advertisement on
AdjunctNation.com? Click here.

Archives

Graphic

From the Archive

  • MIT Summit Looks At The Future of Online Learning

    On March 4, 2013 at the MIT Media Lab, MIT and Harvard University, the founders of the online-learning initiative edX, convened a group of academic leaders and other online-learning experts for a daylong summit meeting titled “Online Learning and the Future of Residential Education.” On hand were, among others, the presidents and provosts of MIT and Harvard; […]

  • SEIU Targets Adjuncts at DePaul U. in Chicago

    by Brendan Moore DePaul could soon be at the forefront of the debate over adjunct unionization as DePaul President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M. informed faculty last week of attempts by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to add DePaul faculty to their ranks. In an email with the subject line “Union Solicitation at DePaul,” Holtschneider […]

  • Don’t Poke Me: Professors’ Privacy In The Age Of Facebook

      By Rich Russell Before seeing the new movie The Social Network this past weekend, I first read the article on co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in The New Yorker. His own Facebook profile is quoted in the piece: “I am trying to make the world a more open place.” But an open world does not necessarily […]

  • Review of The Teaching Professor

    by Mark J. Drozdowski Each week I receive my fair share of unsolicited newsletters of various ilk. For a price, they promise to help me raise more money, become a better public speaker, reduce stress, manage people or time more effectively, or somehow improve my job performance and make me a happier camper. In most […]

  • The Reluctant Professor

    by Cynthia L. Corritore, Ph.D. Most faculty in higher education tend to teach the way they were taught—I know this is true for me. And like most of my colleagues today, I have never taken an online course as a student. So when I was asked to put my course online, I felt quite unprepared, […]

Graphic

Want to see your advertisement on
AdjunctNation.com? Click here.

Graphic

Want to see your advertisement on
AdjunctNation.com? Click here.

Recently Commented

  • Rick: If your looking for non-academic jobs, or “menial” jobs do not even mention your graduate...
  • AdjunctNation Editorial Team: @Jeffr thanks for pointing out the distinction.
  • Jeffr: Note that adjunct faculty are considered to be on a “term” basis and receives no protection except...
  • Scott: I believe Sami is correct in that this no reasonable assurance language will allow adjuncts continuing access...
  • Nancy West-Diangelo: It’s as if we’ve lost the ability to listen critically. If the point of the work we...