Questioning Grades Received on Assignments or Exams
The purpose of Academic Appeals is to provide the student with a process of inquiry regarding grades received on assignments or exams, while respecting the academic responsibility of the instructor. Students may appeal substantive or procedural academic matters. These procedures do not cover instances of academic dishonesty, academic misconduct, discrimination or harassment (see for example Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters).
STEP ONE: Informal discussion
With instructor: The first step is always to discuss the issue with your instructor or the person whose ruling is in question. This discussion must take place 24 hours after the grade has been assigned to you and within two weeks of notification of your grade in ACORN. It is helpful to be clear about the rationale for disputing the grade for the assignment or exam and any proposed remedy for resolving the dispute.
If the matter is not resolved with your instructor, you must then submit your concerns in writing to the course coordinator (or to the Field of Study Coordinator if the course does not include a course coordinator) no later than one week from your last correspondence with the instructor. You should keep a copy of all email correspondence for your records. The request in writing should specify the reason(s) for the request and your suggested remedy to resolve the dispute. The course coordinator (or to the Field of Study Coordinator if the course does not include a course coordinator). The course coordinator (or to the Field of Study Coordinator if the course does not include a course coordinator) will schedule a meeting with you and the instructor within two weeks of your written request.
In most cases, these informal and preliminary discussions with the instructor and/or with the course coordinator (or to the Field of Study Coordinator if the course does not include a course coordinator) should suffice to resolve the dispute and no further action will be required. If the matter does not resolve at this informal and preliminary stage of the resolution process, you may escalate the matter to the Associate Dean, Academic. You should be aware that the only valid basis for grade appeal beyond this level will be based on the establishment that an instructor assigned a grade that was arbitrary, prejudiced, or in error.
With the Associate Dean, Academic: If the matter cannot be settled informally through discussions with the instructor and/or course coordinator (or to the Field of Study Coordinator if the course does not include a course coordinator), and the student believes that the grade received was unfair due to a procedural error or bias, the student may submit a written statement to the Associate Dean, Academic. This statement should clearly document the concerns and supporting evidence of the procedural error or bias (including all of the correspondence to date). The Associate Dean, Academic will review the materials and will set up a meeting with the student within two weeks of receiving the written notice. The purpose of this meeting will be to attempt to informally resolve the matter and if not, to determine whether the appeal fits the criteria to escalate to a formal appeal review (see criteria in step two).
Note: The Associate Dean, Academic will not make a determination of the validity of the appeal, but simply whether the concern brought forward fits within the criteria for cases to be escalated to the formal appeal process.
Note: Second readings should not be used during the appeals process and will not be considered in the decision to settle the dispute or to escalate the dispute.
STEP TWO: Initiating a Formal Appeal
If the matter cannot be settled through STEP ONE, the student has the option of proceeding to the Faculty of Social Work Student Appeals Committee, referred by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) as the Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee (GDAAC).
Formal academic appeals by students are subject to the policies and procedures established by the SGS of the University of Toronto. In order to initiate an appeal to the Graduate Department Academic Appeals Committee, students must complete a Notice of Appeal. The purpose of the Notice of Appeal is to initiate the appeal process and to provide information to assist in determining a decision or recommendation http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/Documents/GDAAC+Notice+of+Appeal.pdf. A completed Notice of Appeal form must be submitted within eight (8) weeks of the decision the student wishes to appeal.
The purpose of the GDAAC is to establish Appeal Panels to receive, hear, and decide on all student appeals in the Faculty to determine whether the grade was assigned in a fair and appropriate manner, or whether clear and convincing evidence suggests that the grade for assignment or exam was based on:
- Arbitrariness: The grade received is a substantial departure from the accepted academic norms for grading at the Faculty for similar course offerings.
- Prejudice: The grade received appears motivated by preconceived notions, not indicative of the student’s academic performance and/or abilities.
- Error: The instructor made an error in grading (e.g., error in calculations).
The GDAAC will make its decisions based on a majority vote.
A decision by GDAAC shall be rendered no later than 90 days after the GDAAC meeting and should address the following, where applicable:
- Whether the evidence of record supports the findings
- Whether established procedures were followed in STEP ONE and STEP TWO of the FIFSW Academic Appeals protocol
- Whether any evidence suggests that the grade awarded was based on a procedural error or bias (Arbitrariness, Prejudice, or Error)
The Committee will be composed of the following persons:
- A total membership of five: four graduate faculty members and one graduate student. One of the faculty members will serve as Chair of the committee and will be appointed by the Chair of the Department/Associate Dean, Academic. The Chair of the Department/Associate Dean, Academic should not normally be a member of the GDAAC.
- Quorum for the Committee is three members, including the Chair.
- If the issue relates to practicum, one of the three faculty members will be adjunct faculty involved in field education. For a collaborative specialization course, a representative from the collaborative specialization will be included as one member.
- Alternate members: Alternate Committee members and an alternate Chair of the Committee shall be appointed by the Chair of the Department/Associate Dean, Academic each academic year. These alternate members may be called upon by the Chair in an individual appeal to replace a regular GDAAC member where a conflict of interest has been identified, or where a regular member is unable to serve.
- Secretary: The Chair of the Department/Associate Dean, Academic may assign a Secretary to the GDAAC, as required.
The Practicum Manual describes the review process for students’ performance in the practicum and conduct in the FIFSW graduate program is guided by the University of Toronto (UT) Standards of Professional Practice Behaviour for all Health Professional Students and the UT Code of Student Conduct.
For information on Academic Appeals, please refer to the SGS web site.
STEP THREE: Graduate Academic Appeals Board
A decision of the GDAAC may subsequently be appealed by a student within eight weeks of the decision to the Graduate Academic Appeals Board (GAAB). The GAAB is the highest level of appeal within the School of Graduate Studies. To initiate an appeal to the GAAB, a student must file a Notice of Appeal with the Secretary of the Board. When all the evidence from both sides of the dispute is on hand and has been seen by all parties concerned, the Secretary arranges a hearing before the Board.
STEP FOUR: Governing Council’s Academic Appeals Committee
A decision of the GAAB may subsequently be appealed by a student to the Governing Council’s Academic Appeals Committee, in accordance with its guidelines and procedures. An appeal to this committee shall be commenced by filing a Notice of Appeal with its Secretary no later than 90 days after the date of the GAAB decision under appeal.