Policy on Grade Clarification and Appeal

A word is necessary as regards how you should proceed if you are dissatisfied with your grade on a paper or test, do not understand why you received it, and/or feel that you should have received a higher mark.

Resubmit the written work along with a courteous note asking for clarification/further comments on what was lacking and how you could have done better.  I will respond with extensive written commentary that should help you understand your mark.  Only then should we meet, if you wish to, and discuss your work and my reaction to it.  The purpose of such a talk would be to guide you toward better performance in the future.

If you show up at my office and demand to know on the spot why your work received a particular grade, I will state that you need to leave your paper with me and that I will give you further written feedback at a later time.  I will not glance at your essay and give you an opinion while you wait.  You may be angry, and you have been brooding about your work for days; however, I probably no longer recall it perfectly and need to refresh my memory.  If you expect me to answer your question, you need to respect my need to do so in the way that is most comfortable for me and most helpful to you.

If you insist that I reevaluate your work because you think that it deserves a higher grade, I may decide that it should actually receive a lower mark.  You run that risk if you want to challenge my original estimation.  Because I tend to give the highest grades that I can justify, especially on tests, a reevaluation might well lead to a lower mark.  This is not about retribution for your request.  It is about taking a very close look at a piece of writing and then honestly and objectively assigning a rubric-based grade. Obviously it is in your best interest just to ask for further comments rather than a full-scale reevaluation.  It is possible that I might then change your grade to a higher one of my own accord, though that outcome is definitely not probable because I try to give the highest possible grades in the first place. 

Regarding class presence: Sometimes students who have not kept a log of their absences and tardies are sure that they have not been absent and tardy as many times as my record indicates. If you have your own record, we can have a conversation. If not, I am not likely to budge.

I refuse to argue or negotiate with you about your grade for an assignment, test, or the overall course.  If you receive extra feedback and are still not satisfied that you were treated fairly, then you are welcome to contact Dr. Casey Cothran, Chair of the Department of English, cothranc@winthrop.edu, and make a formal complaint.

Note:  I will NOT discuss grades on e-mail or over the phone.