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Student Concerns

During a student's tenure in the department, situations may arise that can be challenging to manage. Listed below are some of the most common issues undergraduates face and suggestions to help resolve these issues. 

Please document the issue by completing the Student Concern Form which can be accessed via myCSOnce submitted, the department's ombuds will review your form and you will receive a follow up email with your next steps.

The ombuds/listener is an informal, neutral, and confidential resource who advocates for fairness and equity in the department. Faculty, staff, post-docs, graduate, and undergraduate students in the department are all encouraged to meet with an ombudsperson to voice their concerns. A good way to think of an ombudsperson is as a “Thinking Partner” who will listen to you, give you some perspective and feedback on your concern, and help brainstorm ways to cope with and/or overcome this concern. Concerns may include but are not limited to: academic difficulties, lab dynamics, personality conflicts, advisor-student interactions, personal problems, stressful work environments, and time management.   

The only exceptions to the confidentiality rule are: if there is an imminent threat of serious harm to oneself or another employee, cases of research misconduct, sexual harassment, sexual violence, or if the concerned parties request or permit the information to be shared. Faculty ombudspeople are mandatory reporters. Graduate student ombudspeople are only mandatory reporters if they serve as a teaching assistant for a student seeking their guidance.

In most cases the best way to solve a problem you are having with your instructor is to meet with them during their office hours.  If this does not work for you, you may consider asking your instructor for a different time to meet with them at their office, however this is not always possible. When asking for a meeting, it would be helpful to let your instructor know ahead of time the nature or context of your need to meet without going into much detail.  This may help your instructor prepare to discuss your concern - most people can work through an issue when it doesn't come as a surprise.

If you are uncomfortable meeting alone with an instructor, consider taking a friend with you. If you do, just introduce him/her to your instructor and indicate they are your friend.

If your issue is in regard to a grade, meeting directly with your instructor is the best way to seek resolution. See below in another FAQ for information on appealing grades.

If you are frustrated with your instructor's relational style, or feel like you have had discourteous interactions with your instructor, consider speaking with your academic advisor for strategies in approaching this problem.

On rare occasions, an instructor's interaction with you may meet the legal definitions of harassment or discrimination.  If you think this has happened, please visit the website for the University's Office of Institutional Equity: https://www.purdue.edu/oie/Complaints/index.html.

All of the suggestions regarding dealing with an instructor (see the FAQ above) apply to issues with a TA.  Given that TAs are supervised by the course instructor, after trying and failing to resolve your issue directly with your TA, you may meet with your instructor during their designated office hours.

You should discuss these topics with your instructor or TA during their office hours.

There are two types of grade appeal.

Appealing the grade of an assignment, project, quiz, or test

The content, assessment, and grading rubrics of courses are the purview of the instructor. Any question about course grades are between the student and the instructor. Students with complaints about a grade must seek resolution directly with their instructor. It works best to seek resolution in a timely manner - do not wait until the end of the semester. It is not usually possible to discuss grade issues just before or after the class period as your instructor will not be in the best position to have a complete discussion with you about your complaint in that setting. Grade complaints are best handled in the instructor's office hours, or sometimes with a thorough, well-written email.

Appealing a course grade

The university provides a uniform process to appeal final course grades. Within the College of Science, the process is described here: https://www.science.purdue.edu/Current_Students/resources/grade-appeals.html. Students who had the opportunity to discuss graded content during the semester, but failed to do so, may find a successful appeal of a final grade difficult to achieve. Please note: the College-level appeal must be submitted within 30 calendar days after the start of the next regular semester. Thus, appeals of Fall semester grades are due in early February, and appeals of Spring semester grades are due in early September.

You will need to meet with Lynne Horngren, Director of Academic Advising for the College of Science. You may email her directly, horngren@purdue.edu, or you may make an appointment with her by calling the College of Science undergraduate office: (765) 494-1771.

The department wants to help you succeed and provides a number of ways to help students learn in each course. Consider this list of a variety of ways to learn or get help:

Last Updated: Aug 22, 2022 1:32 PM

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