Students

The college environment offers many opportunities for growth, learning, and greater self-awareness. To aid in this process, below are general suggestions for students when they find themselves confronting various situations, specifically, addressing academic concerns with an instructor, having to email a university faculty or staff member, or resolving a conflict with a classmate, roommate, or friend.

If you would like to discuss these situations and/or suggestions further, feel free to contact the Student Ombuds at aquillin@kent.edu, or (330) 672-9494.

Addressing Academic Concerns with Your Instructor

SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDRESSING ACADEMIC CONCERNS WITH YOUR INSTRUCTOR:

  • Ask your instructor if you can visit them during office hours, or set up a time, outside their office hours, to meet in order to discuss a classroom/grade concern that you have.
  • Be able to articulate the specific concern(s) that you have. It might be helpful to write out key points so you can stay on track.
  • Students may grieve whatever grade or classroom concern they believe is valid. The most successful grievances, however, are ones in which the student can substantiate errors or discrepancies, such as possible errors in the instructor’s grading, or significant departures from the course syllabus.
  • If you believe a grade is incorrect, ask your instructor how they calculated your grade. If possible and applicable, you may want to ask your instructor if they can review the grading rubric with you and explain how your work matched, or didn’t match, the rubric’s expectations.
  • Try to remain as calm and objective as possible in the conversation. Being angry, sarcastic or disrespectful is not helpful.
  • Depending on the class and the grading criteria, some assignments are graded based on the instructor’s expertise and subjective judgment. You may disagree with the grade they arrived at, but it may not necessarily mean it’s incorrect.
  • In some academic programs, missing a desired grade by .5 points is the same as missing it by 50 points. You may ask your instructor if there are alternatives to making up missed points (extra assignments, etc.), but ultimately, grading and the allowance of making up points is the prerogative of the instructor.
  • Regardless of the outcome, be sure to thank your instructor for taking the time to discuss this with you.
  • If, after trying to resolve a grade/academic dispute, you would still like to pursue an academic complaint, refer to the university’s academic complaint policy (4-02.3 ) and/or you may contact the Student Ombuds for consultation.
  • When crafting the wording for a formal complaint, keep in mind that less is oftentimes more. The complaint should succinctly focus on the complaint itself. In general, it is best not to include details of extraneous life circumstances, personal stories, past grades or accomplishments, or speculate on other students’ grades as these tend to detract from the real focus of the complaint.
Emailing University Faculty or Staff

SUGGESTIONS FOR EMAILING UNIVERSITY FACULTY OR STAFF:

  • Use your kent.edu email to address university faculty/staff. Emailing from a non-KSU personal account may result in faculty/staff mistaking it for ‘junk’ mail and deleting it.
  • Use a clear and succinct subject line. If you’re emailing an instructor, for instance, include the course number and topic of the email, e.g. “ENG 11011-001, final paper.”  
  • Be sure to include a salutation and signature, and be courteous, e.g., “Hello, Dr. X” or “Good morning, Professor Y, Thank you for meeting with me the other day during your office hours. I still have some questions about the final paper and am hoping you can clarify some things.” Then be specific about the things you need clarified.
  • Remember that you are emailing and not texting so don’t abbreviate words or phrases as you might in a text message. For instance, don’t use ‘RU avlbl to meet 2day’ when you mean ‘are you available to meet today?’ Be sure to use standard punctuation, capitalization, grammar and correct spelling. Remember, as well, to proofread your email and correct any mistakes before you hit “send”
  • Unless you are physically incapable of doing so, your parents (or anyone else) should not be emailing on your behalf.
Resolving Conflict

SUGGESTIONS FOR RESOLVING CONFLICT:

  • Understand the context of what you believe the conflict to be. How would you describe it, what are the key points of the conflict, and what is your desired resolution? It might be helpful to make notes for yourself.
  • Keep your emotions in check and try to remain calm and factual during the discussion. Being angry, sarcastic, or dismissive generally doesn’t foster understanding or resolution.
  • Resist the urge to want to be right. There are always at least two (2) sides to an issue, and as “right” as you believe you might be in the situation, the other person(s) often feels just as right in their perspective.
  • When at all possible, it’s best to have the conversation in-person. Being in the presence of the other person affords all parties the benefit of seeing if the other person understands what’s being said, clarifying the message if they don’t understand, and supporting the give-and-take process with nonverbal communication.
  • Solicit the other person’s “side” and listen attentively. Allow them space to share their side of the situation without interruption.
  • During a conflict, especially when trying to resolve it, it’s usually best to avoid social media. Posts on social media can be easily misunderstood and may incite more tension and ill-will than intended.     
  • Resolution of the conflict may not be immediate. That doesn’t mean it’s a failed resolution, just that it may require multiple conversations or attempts at resolution.