Course Grade Appeal Policy

  • Custodian of Policy: Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
    Relevant Minnesota State System Policy: 
    Effective Date: May 28, 2002
    Last Review: Spring 2015
    Next Review: Fall 2021

    Policy

    A. All students have the right to expect thoughtful and clearly defined approaches to course grading, but it must be recognized that varied standards and individual approaches to grading are valid. Course grading methods should be thoroughly explained to students at the beginning of the semester and must appear on the course syllabus.

    B. In a course grade appeal, only arbitrariness, prejudice, and/or error will be considered as legitimate bases for an appeal.

    • Arbitrariness: The grade awarded represents such a substantial departure from accepted academic norms as to demonstrate that the instructor did not exercise professional judgment in the matter.
    • Prejudice: The grade awarded was motivated by ill will, and is not indicative of the student's academic performance.
    • Error: The instructor made a mistake, or failed to give students required notice of grading policies in the syllabus.

    If a student believes that discrimination or harassment were factors in the determination of the course grade awarded, a complaint should be filed with the Affirmative Action Officer under Minnesota State Colleges and Universities board policy.

    C. A student may appeal a grade reduced for academic dishonesty through the Course Grade Appeal Policy.

    D. The Course Grade Appeal process must be initiated by the student prior to the close of week six of the following semester. If the student moves to the formal grade appeal process it must be completed before the end of the semester in which the appeal was initiated.

    In cases where an incomplete was originally assigned, an appeal must be made within six weeks of the date the final grade is posted by the Registrar's office and available to the student on the web. If the student uses the formal process, the process must be completed during the first ten weeks of the next academic year term.

    E. The Course Grade Appeal Process

    1. Step 1: Informal Process:
      1. The student will discuss the issue with the instructor, and may consult with the department chairperson, in an attempt to resolve the matter.
      2. If the matter is not resolved to the student's satisfaction, the student may discuss the issue with the dean in whose college the course was offered. If the matter cannot be resolved informally, the student may choose to file a formal appeal.
       
    2. Step 2: Formal Process:
      1. The student must request a Course Grade Appeal form from the dean. The student will submit the completed form, along with any supporting documentation, to the dean. It is recommended that the student keep a copy of all materials submitted. The dean will send the Course Grade Appeal Form and supporting documentation to the instructor.
      2. The dean will discuss the matter with the instructor and the student in an attempt to resolve the appeal.
      3. If no resolution can be reached, an ad hoc college committee will be formed. The dean will contact the Faculty Association President and request the appointment of one faculty member from the academic department offering the course, two faculty members from other departments within the college, and two upper division students who are majors in fields represented in that college. The dean will ask for a volunteer from among the appointees to chair the committee.
      4. The instructor of the course will submit a written response to the appeal and supporting documentation of their choosing. The student will receive a copy of the material. Any material content protected by data privacy statutes will be redacted.
      5. The ad hoc appeals committee performs an investigative role and may request additional written information from the student and/or the instructor through the committee chairperson or the dean.
      6. Based on the information submitted, the committee will prepare a written finding with regard to the issues raised in the appeal (alleged arbitrariness, prejudice, and/or error on the part of the instructor). The committee will speak to one or more of the criteria as the basis for its finding. The committee chairperson will forward a written copy to the student, the instructor, and the dean.
      7. The instructor and the student may each respond in writing to the dean if they believe the committee's findings are acceptable or unacceptable. If either does not respond within seven days, the dean will assume that the committee's written findings are acceptable to that person.
      8. If no resolution has been reached, the dean will review the written findings of the committee and the responses of the instructor and the student. The dean will send his/her recommendation, the committee's written finding, and all supporting documentation and correspondence to the Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs (or designee), the student, and the instructor.
      9. The Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (or designee) will review all the materials, and submit a written recommendation to the President (or designee), and copies of that recommendation to the student and the instructor. The President (or designee) will make the final decision.
      10. The final decision may take the form of a:
        1. recommendation to the instructor and/or
        2. change of grade and/or
        3. determination that no action is warranted.
         
      11. If at any time during the formal Course Grade Appeal Process resolution is reached, the Course Grade Appeal Process terminates.