In the event that there is an unresolvable issue between a student and instructor, either the student or the instructor can schedule mediation with the First-Year Composition (FYC) staff.
Mediation follows a two-step process:
- The student must meet with her/his instructor in an effort to come to a resolution about the issue.
- If resolution between student and instructor cannot be reached, the student may submit a letter to the FYC Office detailing the issue and including any relevant information to assist FYC in mediating the discussion between teacher and student.
Office of First-Year Composition Mediation Process
When a student has questions about course policies, grades, or the instructor’s implementation of course policies, the first step is for the student to meet with the instructor face-to-face to discuss the issue(s). Normally a student and instructor can communicate about the issue and come to a workable resolution. However, if issues remain unresolved even after the student meets with her or his instructor, the student may file a request for mediation with the Office of First Year Composition. The nature of the grievance must meet the criteria stated in this policy.
You may only request mediation if the instructor has violated published policies and procedures, if the instructor has demonstrated prejudiced or capricious implementation of policy, or if the instructor has shown a consistent inability to communicate with students in ways necessary to their success. Instances when a student disagrees with the teacher’s policies or feels a teacher is too harsh or strict or when a student believes a teacher is ineffective are not grounds for requesting mediation. Disliking a teacher or a teacher’s style is not reason enough to schedule mediation.
Students may submit a request for mediation any time during the semester in which s/he is taking the course. If the student wishes to appeal a paper grade, s/he must do so after the semester is over in accordance with the “Grade Appeal Policy” (available on the FYC website). In order to schedule mediation, the student should first meet with her/his instructor. If the student and the instructor are unable to reach an understanding, the student may submit a formal letter of request for mediation to the Office of First Year Composition. This letter should explain the student’s reasons for requesting mediation and should also indicate how the conversation with the instructor was unable to produce resolution or clarity.
If the student wishes to schedule mediation with FYC staff, the staff will first notify the instructor of the specific policies or issues to be discussed in the mediation. FYC staff will not disclose the details of the student’s request for mediation but will provide only enough information to prepare the instructor to discuss the policies and/or classroom issues the student wishes to address. FYC staff will schedule a time that works for the student, instructor, office staff, and the Director(s) of FYC, and mediation will take place in the Office of First Year Composition (Gittinger Hall room 122). Mediation will be scheduled for no longer than 1 hour, so the student should prioritize his/her questions and concerns about the course and plan accordingly.
The purpose of mediation is to create a safe space in which student and instructor can communicate clearly to resolve any difficulties. As such, only the student and instructor may be present at the mediation along with office staff; if any other person(s) has relevant information to contribute, they may do so through written form. Office staff and Director(s) of First Year Composition will be present to help ensure that both teacher and student understand each other’s concerns and to help co-design a sustainable way forward for the remainder of the semester.
After mediation, students can stay in contact with the FYC office staff if necessary to keep the staff apprised of the situation. If the student is unsatisfied with the resolution that comes from mediation and it is relevant to do so, they may file a grade appeal after the semester is over and before the grade challenge deadline. The deadline to begin the grade dispute process for a fall course is February 15th. The deadline to begin the grade dispute process for a spring course is September 15th.
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