Concerns of Academic Issues Questions regarding the conduct of a course, including grading, should be directed to the instructor of the course. If the issue cannot be resolved in discussion with the instructor, the student should invoke the additional steps outlined below. The following three items of an academic nature have specific procedures to address concerns:
1. Course content that veers significantly and substantively from the content and requirements as set forth in a course syllabus
2. Demonstrably arbitrary/unfair evaluation of student produced coursework
3. Accusations of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty
Course Content that veers significantly and substantively from the Content and Requirements as set forth in a Course Syllabus
Deviation from the syllabus will be considered a grievable situation only if the student can show that significant material, vital to future courses for which this course is a prerequisite, has been eliminated, or the expectation of student performance has significantly changed.
Students who have a grievance about major deviations, additions or changes to a course’s syllabus are encouraged to first, take up the issues with the course instructor. Significant reasons may have developed and such a major discovery which necessitates changes in the course content or contextual developments which change the way the course may be delivered or evaluated, to warrant such changes in the curriculum.
In the event the student is unable to resolve the issues with the instructor, the student may speak with the Division Dean, Graduate Dean, or Program Director. If the Dean or Graduate Program Coordinator is the Instructor in question, the concern should be directed to the Provost. If the Provost is the instructor in question, the concern should be directed to the President. The purpose of these meetings is primarily informational, although if there is evidence that the course did not generally match with the basic description provided in the college catalog, remedies may be offered to the student, including, but not limited to, re-offering the course to the student, providing an opportunity for mentored independent study, or extending the option of course withdrawal.
These meetings must be initiated by the student prior to the end of the semester of the course in question, as this process exists for review of course content and not as an avenue for soliciting review of grades, Grievances initiated after the end of the semester will be treated as grade appeals.
Demonstrably Arbitrary and Unfair Evaluation of Student Produced Course Work
Students have a right to expect fair and consistent issuance of course grades. The grading policy employed in each class, including the comparative weight of each component used to determine the final grade, is outlines in each course syllabus. It is the student’s responsibility to read and comply with the grading policy outlined in that syllabus.
Students who have questions about grades on projects, tests or final grades for the semester are encouraged to meet with their instructor and review the grades. In the case of a final grade only, if the student still does not understand the basis for the grade or believes that the composition of the semester grade conflicts with the grading policy stated in the syllabus, he or she may request an additional meeting with the instructor and the Division Dean or Graduate Program Director. If the Dean or Graduate Program Director is the instructor in question, the concern should be directed to the Provost. If the Provost is the instructor in question, the concern should be directed to the President. This meeting must be requested within two weeks of receipt of the final grade, and must take place 30 days of the beginning of the next semester.
At this meeting, the student will be asked to provide evidence to substantiate the claim that the grade was either arbitrary or unfair. The role of the Program Dean or Graduate Program Director is to facilitate communication, and clarify understandings. At the instructor’s sole prerogative, the final grade may be modified, although no grade may be lowered as a result of these meetings, or the assigned grade may be sustained. If the dispute is regarding the accuracy of a grade assignment, this meeting is the final step of the review process.
If, in the opinion of the Dean or Graduate Program Director, significant discrepancies exist between the grading policy stated on the syllabus and the actual process used to assign a final grade, one last step may be utilized. The Dean or Graduate Program Director may recommend a review of the grading process by the Provost. This person does not have the authority to change the final grade, but can extend to the student the opportunity to retroactively withdraw from the course, if sufficient evidence warrants such as recommendation. The grade appeal process is not designed to address accusations of discrimination or harassment. If such concerns are the premise upon which the appeal is made, the student is directed to use the processes established by the University to resolve discrimination or harassment charges.
Accusations of Plagiarism or Other Forms of Academic Dishonesty
Plagiarism is the offering of work of another as one’s own. Plagiarism is a serious offense and may include, but is not limited to, the following:
1. Complete or partial copying directly from a published or unpublished source without proper acknowledgement to the author. Minor changes in wording or syntax are not sufficient to avoid charges of plagiarism. Proper acknowledgement of the source of a text is always mandatory.
2. Paraphrasing the work of another without proper author acknowledgement.
3. Submitting as one’s own original work, however freely given or purchased, the original exam, research paper, manuscript, report, computer file, or other assignment that has been prepared by another individual.
In the cases of alleged academic dishonesty, such as plagiarism, cheating, claiming work not done by the student, or lying, where a faculty member observes or discovers the dishonesty, the faculty members may choose to confront the student and handle the matter between the faculty member and the student, or the faculty member may choose to refer the incident to the Dean or Graduate Program Director. If the Dean or Graduate Program Director is the instructor in question, the concern should be directed to the Provost. If the Provost is the instructor in question, the concern should directed to the President. If the faculty member chooses to confront the situation and it is not satisfactorily resolved between the faculty member and the student, the matter may then be referred or appealed to the Dean or Director.
In either case, the Dean or Graduate Program Director may choose to resolve the matter through a meeting with both the student and the faculty member, or refer the matter to the Provost. The findings, in either case, are final.