Problems with Professors: How to Handle Grading Disputes

What is the process to address a college grading disagreement or other problem with a professor? Find out how to handle disputes in the academic world of college.

Every student wants to get good grades in college, and no one wants to think about getting into a dispute over college grading practices. Professors often wield a lot of power, and students are worried that if they get on a professor’s bad side, their grades will suffer. While it is an ethical violation for a professor to give a bad grade to a student without any reason, it is very difficult to prove that this has taken place.

Handling college grading disputes can be tricky, but with a little poise and empathy, things can be resolved.

There are many reasons a student might disagree with the grade they receive from a professor, but they typically stem from some sort of bias or disagreement in personality

Types of College Grading Disputes

There are many reasons a student might disagree with the grade they receive from a professor, but they typically stem from some sort of bias or disagreement in personality. It’s difficult to dispute objective grades in fields like mathematics, because there is typically either a right answer or a wrong one. If you get a poor grade on a test in this class, it’s fairly easy to figure out whether or not it was deserved.

The problem stems from more subjective classes. Literature, sociology, and psychology courses all have much more room for error and human bias. You might believe that a teacher doesn’t agree with your opinion, and has therefore graded you more harshly than others.

Another setting for biased grading is political disagreement. Especially in sociology classes or other classes of a political nature, having fundamental disagreements with your professors might lead to issues if you handle them incorrectly.

It’s important to note that despite this, good professors are usually fair and tend to recognize their own biases. In college, professors can be your strongest advocates.

How to Solve College Grading Disagreements

All of these circumstances may seem hopeless, but they certainly don’t have to be. The main thing to remember: both you and your professor are humans, prone to making human mistakes. You’re both adults who can behave reasonably. Grading disputes don’t have to be a huge issue.

Talk to your professor about your thoughts on grading. Present yourself in a respectful manner, and don’t accuse your professor of doing anything wrong, even if you feel that this is the case. Simply tell them that you are worried. If you empathize with the professor, the professor will empathize with you, and often times grading disputes are settled just like this.

If talking to your professor doesn’t seem to do anything, go to your adviser for advice. See what kinds of student action your school permits. Always remember, you’re not the first student who has ever had a problem with his grade, so your school is going to have a protocol in place to handle such sticky situations.

Problems with Teaching Assistants

Having a problem with a TA is much easier to deal with, but should still be approached with empathy and respect. Always talk to the TA first, much in the same way mentioned above. Students more often have problems with assistants because they are still students and not as experienced, but treat them as you would with any grading dispute. Only after you have tried this and are still unsatisfied should you approach a professor about a problem with a TA.

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