Talking with a professor about a grade dispute can be a beneficial process for students and faculty alike, even if it sounds stressful. A professor may not know about individual grade issues and most students are unfamiliar about processes related to bringing a formal grievance to an authority figure. While all departments and schools use the same University of Washington policy, there are some procedural differences. Since FYPP is dedicated to working with first year students primarily, our aim here is to clarify the grade dispute process for FYPP courses, and provide students and faculty with resources if engaged in the process.
The University’s overall policy is as follows:
A student who believes he or she has been improperly graded first discusses the matter with the instructor. If the student is not satisfied with the instructor's explanation, the student may submit a written appeal to the dean or director of the student's academic unit (or their designee) with a copy of the appeal also to the instructor. The dean or director consults with the instructor to ensure that the evaluation of the student's performance has not been arbitrary or capricious. Should the dean or director believe the instructor's conduct to be arbitrary or capricious, and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the dean or director, with the approval of the voting members of his or her faculty, shall appoint an appropriate member, or members, of the faculty of that department, to evaluate the performance of the student and assign a grade. The Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs should be informed of this action.
Once a student submits a written appeal, this document, and all subsequent actions on this appeal, are recorded in written form for deposit in a department or college file.
For FYPP Classes, Please Follow These Specific Steps for Disputing a Grade:
Please read through our helpful suggestions below. If you’d like to chat with an advocate before talking with your professor, please contact Prof. Peter Brooks (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- When you’re ready, contact your professor by sending a professional e-mail to set up a face-to-face meeting to discuss your grade dispute and resolve concerns.
- If after one calendar week (7 days), your professor is not responsive to your request to meet, please contact a FYPP advisor at email@example.com or 425-352-3427.
If the face-to-face meeting does not result in a resolution, you may appeal the grade by writing to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success, and copying your professor on the e-mail, within ten calendar days of the meeting. The Associate Vice Chancellor will hear your request and consult with the FYPP Academic Oversight Committee.
Helpful professional suggestions & considerations:
Professors are aware they may occasionally make oversights on grading. Thus, bringing this to their attention can be helpful for you and them. Please carefully read then follow the steps here before immediately contacting a Dean or the Vice Chancellor.
Review and reflect on materials related to your concern about improper grading. For example, your class syllabus and/or a specific assignment. Referencing documentation will help to resolve the dispute with your professor.
When contacting your professor, please make sure you indicate what grade you’d specifically like to discuss. You can also provide additional details when you meet with your professor.
Here is a sample email to follow:
I hope you’re well. I’m struggling with a grade I recently received in your class and would like to talk with you to resolve those concerns. Specifically, I’d like to discuss the [insert name of exam, assignment, course grade, etc. here]. When are you available to meet in person? Please let me know at your earliest convenience.
[your full name]
When discussing your questions and concerns, you’ll likely share some form of constructive feedback; all people, even if they have erred, are due respect. Please keep in mind that critiquing or complaining about items unrelated to a professor’s teaching skills, course design, and/or grade evaluation are not helpful. Concerns that are influenced by a teacher’s race, gender, appearance, or other perceived personal attributes will not be tolerated.
When writing to appeal your professor’s decision to the Associate Vice Chancellor, please include the following information:
- The Assignment/Test/Course with the disputed grade (if there are handouts or related documents, please attach them).
- The specific concerns you have with the disputed grade, and how they meet the university criteria of “arbitrary or capricious” (see definitions below).
- The date/time/location of your meeting with your professor.
- A summary of the conversation between you and your professor.
- What resolution you were seeking with your grade.
Students may consult with a FYPP advisor or advocate at any time to discuss the steps of the university and FYPP Grade Appeal Procedure and how to move forward toward resolution.