Jan 252012
Authors: Kate Winkle

An unfair grade may drag down you and your GPA, but only if you let it.

The countdown to appeal grades from last semester began the first day of classes and ends 30 days from that date, Feb. 15.

Students unsatisfied with a grade from last semester can follow a process outlined in the University Code to appeal a grade decision.

“My best words of wisdom before the process of appeal is to discuss the situation with the course instructor,” said Melissa Emerson, the assistant director of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services.

Whether students claim point miscalculation, attendance discrepancies, i-clicker failure, or lost assignments, they must prove at least one of the three following appeal criteria:

1. The grade given was not based on performance or as a penalty for academic dishonesty.

2. The standards for grading were unreasonably different from those applied to other students in the class.

3. A grade was given based on standards that differed from those originally explained.

“Most disputes can be resolved informally, obviating the need for formal proceedings,” said political science professor Stephen Mumme in an email to the Collegian. “The fact this informal process seems to work so well reflects the professionalism, student- centeredness and good faith of our faculty.”

“When informal discussions don’t work, the formal procedure in place is an effective tool that students can use to achieve a fair and thorough consideration of their complaints,” Mumme said.

To appeal a grade, a student must submit a written request to the department chairperson no later than 30 days after the beginning of the next semester. According to a department’s policy, an appeals committee will be formed to review the case and decide if the original grading decision will be upheld or changed.

The appeals committee’s decision is final and based on how well a student proves one of the three appeals conditions has been met, according to Emerson.

Conflict Resolutions, located in Aylesworth Hall, is available to guide students throughout the process.

“My role in Conflict Resolutions is to advocate a fair process,” Emerson said. “I can coach students on discussion to the department head or their professor, and we’ll go over what the policy looks like and the next steps they have to follow.”

Much like Mumme, however, Journalism Department chair Greg Luft said grade appeal issues can usually be solved outside of the formal process. According to Luft, instructors handle about 99 percent of appeals informally.

“I have found instructors to be very reasonable in agreeing to reconsider students’ grades if there is information that works in the students’ advantage,” Luft said in an email to the Collegian.

“Since we ask instructors to be the first line of appeals options, they resolve almost all appeals before they get to the department,” Luft added. “Appeals only make it to me if there is a significant difference of opinion that can’t be resolved.”

Collegian reporter Kate Winkle can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Looking to appeal a grade from last semester? Make sure your situation matches one of the following appeal requirements and contact Conflict Resolutions and Student Conduct Services at (970) 491-7165

1. A grading decision was made on some basis other than performance and other than as a penalty for academic dishonesty.
2. A grading decision was based on standards unreasonably different from those which were applied to other students.
3. A grading decision was based on a substantial, unreasonable or unannounced departure from previously articulated standards.

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