Note: FERPA guidelines state that a student has a right to privacy of his or her education record. As such, students' records are confidential. FERPA guidelines prohibit teachers from discussing the status of a student/students' record with parents or others. Please review the FERPA guidelines in the USF Handbook
(page 44-45 "Student Records Policy").
[See "Student Academic Grievance Procedures" in the 2009/10 USF Undergraduate Catalog]
Students sometimes have difficulty understanding the USF and FYC grade grievance policy and procedure. Information about grade grievance follows:
If a student has questions about project grades or the final course grade assigned in a First-Year Composition class, the instructor always should be the first point-of-contact. Generally a student's instructor can explain how grades are assigned and answer any relevant questions about student performance and evaluation. If a student meets with an instructor, discusses grade issues, but still has unresolved issues related to the assigned grade, then the student may file an academic grievance with the Department of English First-Year Composition Program if the nature of the grievance meets the criteria stated in this policy statement and summarized above.
Remember, your instructor has explicit understanding of the content of the class and of your work. Your instructor normally is the final authority for assigning your grades for an activity, project, or course, and you may grieve the assigned grade only if the instructor has violated published policies and procedures, or if grades for a particular student were assigned according to a different criteria than that used to assess other students in the same class.
An "academic grievance" typically refers to a situation when a student challenges a grade on an assignment or a final course grade. Students can file a grade appeal in response to "a specific academic decision or action that affects that student's academic record or status." A student may grieve a grade when the instructor "has violated published policies and procedures, or when an academic action has been applied to the grievant in a manner different from that used for other students." A student may also file a grievance when the instructor has assigned the student either a project grade or a course grade based upon an alleged incident of plagiarism. See the FYC Plagiarism Policy, documented below. "Academic grievances will not deal with general student complaints" [USF Policy 10-002]
In the case of grade appeals, the USF system reserves the right to change a student's grade if it is determined that the grade given was incorrect. The term "incorrect" means that the assigned grade was based upon something other than performance in the course, or that the assignment of the grade was not consistent with the criteria for awarding of grades as described in the course syllabus or other materials distributed to the student.
Please note, however, that this does not mean that a grade will be changed in instances when a student feels a teacher is too harsh or strict in evaluation or when a student believes a teacher is ineffective. In other words, disliking a teacher or a teacher's style is not reason enough for a grade change. Likewise, this does not mean that a grade will necessarily be changed when an instructor deviates from the original course plan (syllabus, class documents). In the University setting, it is not uncommon for teachers to update course schedules and requirements in response to students' needs or extenuating circumstances. So long as all students in a particular class are graded according to the same standards, even in the case of unannounced or last-minute changes, the instructor’s decision generally is supported by FYC administration.
Remember, instructors may consider student attendance when assigning final course grades, and attendance records generally are not included in Blackboard Grade Center columns and calculations. Therefore, if your final course grade does not correspond with the Blackboard Grade Center point total, be sure to review the instructor's class attendance policy and, if necessary, arrange a meeting with your instructor to resolve any attendance-related grade issues.
Academic grievances will not deal with general student complaints. These general complaints include the instructor’s teaching methods, materials, classroom conduct, feedback, or personal opinions expressed in the classroom. One positive element of a university education is exposure to a variety of teaching styles, methods, and opinions, and the FYC Program acknowledges the value of diversity among its teaching staff.
In the case of all other academic grievances, the USF system reserves the right to determine the final outcome based upon the procedures detailed in the current USF Undergraduate Catalog. Neither the student nor the instructor shall be entitled to bring legal representation to any actual grievance proceeding as this is an internal review of an academic decision.
Right to Appeal
[See "I. Introduction (Purpose and Intent)" in the current USF Undergraduate Catalog]
Per the University Catalog, a student has the right to appeal a teacher’s grade assignment following the Student Academic Grievance Procedures outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog within three weeks of the graded assignment or three weeks from the time the student receives the final course grade.
If you wish to appeal the instructor’s decision in either of the above situations, you must notify the FYC Program within three (3) weeks of the grading incident or from the delivery of the final course grade.
Begin the grievance process by
1. Sending an email to the First-Year Composition Program Associate Director, Dr. Dianne Donnelly (firstname.lastname@example.org), and copy the Director, Dr. Joe Moxley (email@example.com), and state your intention to file a grievance.
2. Scheduling a face-to-face meeting with Dr. Donnelly to discuss the incident and your instructor’s grading decision. At your face-to-face conference with Dr. Donnelly, bring all documents you have that will help demonstrate your composing process on the assignment or class in question, including drafts, notes, final draft, etc. You also will be requested to provide a brief (250-words or fewer) written description of your grievance, the course syllabus, Dr. Donnelly will advise you about following the Undergraduate Catalog to pursue your grievance. This procedure is generally outlined in the “Student Grievance” section, below.
3. Your grievance, along with all material submitted by you and your instructor, will be reviewed by a Department of English committee and you will be informed of the department decision within three (3) weeks.
4. You have the right to appeal a department decision by filing a grievance with the College of Arts and Sciences. See the Undergraduate Catalog Student Academic Grievance Procedures for more information.