Procedure for Resolution of Students' Academic Concerns

Trinity College provides formal educational opportunities for its students under the assumption that successful transmission and accumulation of knowledge and intellectual understanding depend on the mutual efforts of teachers and students. Ideally, the college offers a range of learning experiences in which students strive to learn enough to be able to test their ideas against those of the faculty, and faculty, through the preparation of course materials and the freshness of view of their students, discover nuances in their disciplines.

Sometimes, however, student-faculty interrelationships in certain courses give rise to concerns that, for whatever reason, can inhibit successful teaching and learning. When this occurs, students often need assistance in resolving the issues.

The faculty and administration of Trinity College attempt to be genuinely responsive to all such matters and a student should not hesitate to seek assistance from faculty and administrative officers in resolving problems.

Questions about course content, an instructor’s methods of presentation, the level of discourse, criteria for evaluation of students, or administrative procedures in a course should be directed to the instructor of the course. (See the following section, Undergraduate Grade Review Procedure, when concerned about a grade.) If a student believes that productive discussion with the instructor is not possible, courtesy requires that the instructor be informed before the student refers questions about the course to the director of undergraduate studies or, in their absence, to the chair of the department. If a student’s concern involves a departmental policy rather than an individual course, the student should first confer with the director of undergraduate studies in the department. A list of the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the various directors of undergraduate studies can be found in the University Directory. Staff members in the department offices can assist in arranging appointments with the directors. When necessary, directors of undergraduate studies may refer students to the department chair.

Students in doubt about how to proceed in discussing a particular problem, or who seek a resolution of a problem, are encouraged to confer with their academic dean at Trinity College or Pratt School of Engineering.

In those exceptional cases where a problem remains unresolved through informal discussion, a formal procedure of appeal to the senior associate dean of Trinity College or the senior associate dean for education at Pratt School of Engineering is available. A student may initiate this more formal appeal procedure by bringing their problems with assurance of confidentiality, if requested, to the attention of the senior associate dean of Trinity College or the senior associate dean for education at Pratt School of Engineering, who will request information about the nature of the issue and about the earlier efforts made to deal with it. If the problem concerns a specific course, it should be directed to the appropriate senior associate dean in the college or school in which the course is taught.

Undergraduate Grade Review Procedure

A student who questions a final grade received in a course should first discuss the matter with the instructor within thirty days of receiving the grade. After meeting with the instructor, if the student still believes the instructor has assigned an inaccurate or unjustified grade, the student should discuss the matter with the director of undergraduate studies in the department or program concerned. If no satisfactory resolution is reached, the student may make a formal complaint to the director of undergraduate studies in the department or program concerned. The formal complaint must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies prior to the first day of classes for the semester immediately following the recording of the grade.

The director of undergraduate studies will present the case to the chair of the department or program director, and the two of them will review the case with the instructor involved. If the chair or the director of undergraduate studies agrees with the instructor that there are no legitimate grounds on which to change the grade, the grade stands as recorded. If the director of undergraduate studies and chair believe there are grounds to consider a change and the instructor is unwilling to change the grade, the director of undergraduate studies will notify the student that they may request a review of the case by writing to the dean of arts and sciences or the dean of Pratt School of Engineering, depending on which college or school offered the course in question. A written request must be submitted before the end of the Drop/Add period of the semester following that in which the instructor recorded the grade.

The dean will review the case and decide whether there are grounds to convene an ad hoc Committee for Review of Grade. If the dean decides there are no grounds, then the grade is not changed.

If the dean decides that there are grounds to proceed, the dean will charge and convene an ad hoc Committee for Review of Grade. The committee shall consist of the dean and two regular rank faculty members from the same division but not the same department (or from different departments in Pratt School of Engineering). The two faculty members of the committee are to be nominated by the appropriate faculty council, either the Executive Committee of the Arts and Sciences Council or the Engineering Faculty Council. This committee will then evaluate and review the case, and the dean may initiate a grade change if that is the recommendation of the committee.

Compliance with Academic Regulations

Under no circumstances may students ignore official rules and requirements, as this is a breach of the Duke Community Standard and a "failure to comply" as described in The Duke Community Standard in Practice: A Guide for Undergraduates. Students who ignore official rules and requirements will at the least have their registration for the next academic semester blocked by their academic dean until after the close of the last window of that registration period. They could also be subject to involuntary withdrawal for a period of two semesters and/ or referred to the Undergraduate Student Conduct Board for possible disciplinary action.

Exclusion of Disruptive Students from a Course

The successful conduct of courses depends upon a basic spirit of mutual respect and cooperation among the participants. If a student disrupts a class in such a way that it seriously compromises the educational experience of the course for other students or prevents the instructor from accomplishing the goals of the course as outlined in the syllabus, the instructor may ask the student to leave the class meeting.

The instructor and the student are then expected to meet to discuss and prepare in writing the conditions under which the student may return to the course. If the disruptive behavior continues, the instructor may report the matter to the student’s academic dean. The academic dean will investigate the matter to determine whether the student should be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for consideration of formal charges of violation of university policies including "Classroom Disruption," "Disorderly Conduct," and/or "Failure to Comply." If probable cause resulting in further judicial action is not found, the matter is to be referred to the student’s academic dean who will make a decision concerning the status of the student in the course.

If the student or the faculty member wishes to appeal the decision of the academic dean, an appeal is to be directed to the senior associate dean of Trinity College, the academic appellate officer for the college. The decision of the senior associate dean in such a case is final. If the student is permanently excluded from the course, a notation of W will be recorded on the student's academic record.