Graduate student grade appeal guide

Speak with your instructor. The instructor must be given the opportunity to consider a grade re-evaluation. At the same time, seek advice and guidance from your Supervisor.

If no, proceed.

Speak with your Graduate Program Director.

If no, proceed.

Speak jointly with the Faculty Dean and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

If no, proceed.

Prepare a formal appeal to the Student Senate Appeals Board.

Policies and Procedures

  • Graduate Grade Appeals are outlined in the Faculty Handbook.
  • The Graduate Calendar also outlines grade appeals.
  • Familiarize yourself with polices around Student Evaluation and Performance and Graduate Evaluation.
  • Evaluations Duties of the Instructor are found in the Faculty Handbook.
  • Prepare for the Student Senate Appeals Board.
  • SSAB appeals procedures are also found in the Graduate Calendar.

Ombuds guide

  • You have 30 days from course closure, to file a grade appeal.
  • You must follow the chain of command cited above: Instructor/Supervisor, GPD, Faculty Dean and Dean of Graduate Studies, SSAB. You cannot skip a step.
  • Ask for all outcomes to be offered in writing (e.g., ask your instructor to write down the reasons your grade re-evaluation was denied).
  • You have 30 days to file an Appeal with the Student Senate Appeals Board after the Dean has made a final decision.
  • Late appeals are only considered with exceptional circumstances.
  • You must present Grounds for Appeal, some examples include:
    • Human error (e.g., wrong addition; wrong data inputting)
    • Procedural error (e.g., instructor failed to follow rubric, syllabus; misinformation or poor guidance was given; TA/instructor lost paper).
    • Unfair Assessment due to perceived bias or discrimination (e.g., you had an altercation with your instructor and now fear reprisal).
    • Quality Assurance based concerns (e.g., TA or Instructor demonstrating inability to assess work fully or accurately).
    • Medical Reasons (e.g., you failed to communicate to your instructor that you were ill and missed class, resulting in a poor mark on major paper).
    • Life Event Issues (e.g., there was a death in your family).
    • Student Specific Issues (e.g., you failed to mention a disability or ailment that hindered your success in the course).
  • Typically, the following reasons for Appeal are not successful:
    • Travel plans conflicting with a piece of coursework.
    • Medical or personal events that happen outside your immediate family (e.g., death of a grandparent).
    • Personal sickness that is not profound or prolonged (e.g., a doctor’s note covering a day or two worth of course time).
  • Appeals are preventable by speaking with your instructor BEFORE these issues threaten your standing the course.
  • Instructors are best equipped to accommodate your needs if they can prepare ahead of time, rather than retroactively.
  • The Appeal Process takes time, energy and money.
    • Budget 30-40 days of appeal time in your schedule to meet with your Instructor/Supervisor, GPD, Dean, Dean of Graduate Studies and SSAB.
    • Appeals at the SSAB level cost $50 payable at the Registrar’s Office.
  • This stage is informal. Best practise means setting up an in-person appointment with your Instructor and Supervisor to discuss your grade and how it was evaluated. Email and phone aren’t as effective when trying to advocate for increased grades.
  • Speak with your Supervisor about your concerns with a course grade. They can offer you advice and guidance through the process; tips for speaking with the Instructor; and troubleshoot ways of moving past the issue.
  • Supervisors act to advise, monitor and mentor – utilize this resource and source of information, coaching and support.
  • You have the right to feedback on your work; so ask.
  • The instructor has the right to evaluate the work with academic licence and freedom (e.g., some closely follow a rubric while others offer instruction with no rubric and others, evaluate from experience with little formal breakdown of how the grades are considered). Ask your instructor how they achieved the final grade on the work.
  • Familiarize yourself with Academic Freedom section in the Collective Agreement between Brock and the Brock University Faculty Association on page 18 as well as the Faculty Teaching Rights and Responsibility section 12.04 on page 20.
  • Offer your Instructor specific reasons why you feel you have been assessed unfairly
    • (e.g., outline areas that you feel were graded harshly; point out areas in the rubric that may not have been abided by; present documentation that may explain poor grades).
  • Always speak with your instructor BEFORE a life event becomes an academic concern:
    • (e.g., if your mother is enduring cancer treatment, talk to your instructor and ask for an extension before the deadline)
  • Do not wait until last minute to announce an inability to meet a deadline.
  • Always communicate with your instructor about any issues you are having that can impede your success in the course. This increases the likelihood that your Instructor can and will help you.
  • Leave your instructor with a hardcopy of your grade rebuttal in full detail.
  • Give your instructor about 10 days to reconsider the grade.
  • Inform the Instructor that you are bringing your concerns to the Graduate Program Director.
  • Familiarize yourself with the roles and responsibilities of the GPD.
  • Book an appointment in person with your GPD.
  • Send your GPD a copy of your grade rebuttal and any communication between yourself and the Instructor that will be helpful.
  • Present your case verbally to the GPD in a meeting.
  • Give the Chair about 10 days to speak with your Instructor and get a sense of what the issue is; to investigate your claims and prepare a response to you.
  • The Deans are the final decision makers for your appeal.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Duties of a Faculty Dean.
  • Rehearse your points of defence for your grade.
  • Prepare a document for the Deans outlining all of your concerns about your grade, and about the process.
  • Act professional despite strong feelings or emotions. Do not express your personal anger towards the Instructor. Do focus on the grounds for appeal.
  • Offer a feasibly and equitable alternative outcome:
    • g., A third party to evaluate your work rather than the instructor.
    • g., If the work cannot be resubmitted or rewritten, offer an alternative.
  • If you are not satisfied with the Deans’ final decision, you are welcome to appeal within 30 days of the date stamped letter that he/she sends you via mail.
  • The final appeal would be addressed to the Student Senate Appeals Board.