Grade grievance and the lack of transparency in university grading systems
Grade grievance queries result from a lack of transparency in a university's grading process. This includes not disclosing all raw scores or not allowing students to check corrected exam scripts, keeping them in the dark about what to expect until after grade submission. This leads to confusion and distress among students who end up with grades below their expectations with little to no justification.
At the end of every semester, like clockwork, university Facebook groups are flooded with posts regarding unjustified grades submitted by faculty members. Students post to ask fellow university goers how to deal with this situation and if it possible to make an appeal to take a look at their exam scripts.
Most university students have had to send grade grievance emails at some point or thought about sending one but gave up due to the slim prospects of actually getting a response. This norm of not responding to students' queries stems from a culture of lack of accountability.
This practice does not leave room for any mistakes made in the grading process to be rectified, denying students the information they are entitled to know. When respective authorities do not mandate faculty members to be answerable for decisions that directly impact students, equity and integrity take a backseat.
Many faculty members are reluctant to allow students to check their scripts and raw scores after submission of grades as the act seems like their credibility and authority are being questioned, which hurts their ego. There have been cases in my university where professors claimed the student's score might further be decreased upon rechecking as a way to discourage such appeals. Some went as far as stating that disclosing raw scores is prohibited, which is entirely false.
One of the key issues is professors being given unquestionable authority on creating their own grading policies. Course instructors are allowed to deduct marks based on excessively rigid policies such as penalties for every missed class.
Although flexibility in creating grading policies can be useful as the course instructors will best understand which assessment method will be most effective for their respective courses, some standard policies can help reduce inconsistency in the process.
I was a victim of ill-thought-out grading last semester where the professor graded students based on how hard he thought we worked rather than basing it on a verifiable assessment method. The issue with this approach was that there was no way for him to be sure of how much effort each student put into the group projects. He had to ask the group members who they thought worked the hardest and inevitably ended up getting some biased or uninformed answers that resulted in unfair grading.
Although grading can be somewhat subjective depending on the course and assessment method, it should be justifiable, non-arbitrary, and transparent. Many students put a lot of effort into their academics and receiving an unexpectedly poor grade that permanently damages their CGPA can be very discouraging, and not to mention, an expensive setback.
Transparency in the grading process can be an easy solution to correcting honest mistakes and also discouraging grading based on biases and whims. This can also eliminate hassle on both sides as students do not have to reach out to their faculty members for an explanation and faculty members won't receive a plethora of emails on the same subject, making it a win-win situation.
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