Grade Appeals

Grade appeals are governed by Teaching and Instruction Policy 20.01. The following are key points of that policy to consider when seeking to appeal a grade in one of your courses.

Timeliness

It is important that you address the issues in a timely fashion. If you dispute a grade you received, bring it up with your instructor ASAP, ideally within 10 days of receiving the mark on your assignment/test/paper etc. Do not let a long period of time pass before dealing with a mark you believe is unjustified.

Clarity

The basis on which you are graded should be communicated clearly and specifically by your Instructors or TAs. You should know the criteria they are looking for in advance. Should the conditions of the assignment change, (for example, the 2020 rapid switch to online learning in light of COVID 19), any changes in standards or expectations MUST be communicated clearly to the class. Any specific departmental guidelines on grades and distribution should be communicated to you as well.

Instructor Rights and Responsibilities

  • Course outlines usually should advise students how marks will be allocated among such activities as final exams, mid-term exams, tests, term papers, tutorial participation, projects, laboratory work and any other requirements.
  • The Instructor will grade and return as promptly as possible mid-term, essays and other course requirements.
  • The Instructor is responsible for maintaining clear records of the marks given, to weight those marks to establish a final grade, and to ensure those records and any student work retained (exams, essays, etc.) are kept for at least one year following the end of the semester.
  • The Instructor is responsible for attempting to resolve each request from a student to reconsider a grade, and to cooperate with the Department Chair in the resolution of any request the Instructor is unable to resolve directly.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

  • Upon request, a student shall be given access to his or her own work, as well as information about the evaluation, grading and weighting of it.
  • A Student is responsible for retaining exams and assignments that are returned in case the Student wishes to appeal a grade.
  • Students are expected to seek clarification or to express his/her concern to the Instructor in a timely manner if there is any confusion about expectations and marking criteria, normally within 10 days of receiving the information.
  • A Student who is seeking reconsideration of his/her final grade in a course is expected to raise his/her concern with the Instructor without delay, normally within 10 days of the release of the final grade.
  • The reconsideration of a grade may result in the grade being raised, lowered or remaining unchanged.
    • NOTE: Historically, failing grades are never assigned lightly and therefor are seldom overturned unless there has been a technical or administrative error.
  • In the event that a Student is unable to contact the Instructor, or does not receive a timely reply from the Instructor, or wishes to pursue further a request for reconsideration of a grade after receiving a response from the Instructor, the Student may present in writing his/her request and supporting reasons for it to the Chair. Such a request will normally be submitted within 60 days of the release of grades.
    • When an Instructor and a Student are unable to reach agreement on the reconsideration of a grade, the Chair is responsible for assisting them to achieve a fair reconsideration of a grade.

Process

1). Instructor

Try to work with your Instructor first. Explain any lack of clarity over the expectations, any clerical or technical problems that may have occurred, or any extraordinary circumstances that occurred.

2). Department Chair

If you Instructor does not respond, or you are not satisfied with their response, you may appeal to the Department Chair.

  • Provide them with all of the evidence and a detailed overview of the situation and why you believe your grade was unjustified.
  • When a Student has requested a grade be reconsidered, it is the Student’s responsibility to provide to the Chair all the relevant work returned by the Instructor,
  • It is the Instructor’s responsibility to provide to the Chair all relevant work which has been retained.
  • The Chair shall first seek to resolve the concern through consultation with the Student and the Instructor. If the matter cannot be resolved during this consultation, the Chair will arrange for an appropriately qualified person (or persons) to reevaluate the work and establish a grade, or to take such other steps as are necessary. Should the student request anonymity in such a re-evaluation, reasonable steps shall be taken to ensure it.

3). The Dean

A Student who is concerned that his/her request for reconsideration has been inappropriately addressed at the departmental level may convey his/her concern to the Dean. The Dean will review the events and:

  • a) where he/she is satisfied that no new evidence has been presented and that judicious and proper procedures have been followed throughout, will confirm the grade awarded at the departmental level;
  • b) where significant evidence appears not to have been appropriately considered at the departmental level, the Dean may refer the reconsideration back to the Chair with instructions;c) where, in his/her judgment, the matter cannot be resolved at the departmental level, the Dean may initiate reconsideration by alternative means.

4). The Senate (RARE)

The decision of the Dean shall be final, subject only to an appeal to Senate. Such an appeal may go forward only with the permission of the Chair of Senate on clear evidence satisfactory to her/him that there have been improper procedures in reconsideration as undertaken.

Advice

You are welcome to consult the Advocacy Coordinator at any time about grade appeals. If you wish to proceed with a grade appeal, consult the resources on appeal letters.

You may also consult the Ombuds Office

When composing an appeal, the Ombudsperson recommends including the following information (where relevant):

  1. What was the original expectation for the class/assignment/test? 
  2. What change was made?
  3. Was there an explanation for the change? What was the explanation?
  4. Why do you believe the change was unfair?
  5. If you had concerns about the change, did you raise them with the Instructor or anyone else? When? How? What was the response? If you didn’t raise your concerns is there a reason you did not do so? 
  6. How were you impacted by the change or event? Would the change or event likely have impacted the entire class? Was there anything about your particular circumstances that would have impacted you differently from others?
  7. Why are you appealing the grade? What is the issue you are trying to resolve?

Photo credits: RODNAE Productions, SHVETS production on Pexels.com

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