Grade Queries - University of San Diego Home Pages

Louis Komjathy, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
University of San Diego
I endeavor to design my courses in as coherent and fair a way as possible. I have reflected on
students’ relative strengths and learning styles, and each of my courses consists of a spectrum
of assignments and forms of assessment that ensure balanced evaluation. Such assignments
include more objective tests, informal writing exercises, formal research papers, and so forth.
Throughout the process of teaching, I aim to assist student learning and personal development.
I also am committed to being transparent and consistent in terms of expectations and
evaluative criteria. The latter are covered not only in syllabi and course handouts, but also in
corresponding grading rubrics.
My courses are intellectually challenging and (hopefully) stimulating. For students with the
interest, my courses offer opportunities for deep philosophical reflection and for encounters
with radically different worldviews. To be successful, students need to cultivate a high degree
of engagement, commitment, and sustained inquiry. Grades are earned, not given. Four
primary dimensions of a given class are essential and ensure comprehension and
accomplishment: (1) Class lectures and student-directed discussion; (2) Office visits; (3)
Personal reading and study outside of class; and (4) Peer meetings and study sessions. That is,
true study and learning is not simply a matter of class attendance.
Students are responsible for seeking assistance and clarification during the learning process.
The same is true regarding grade inquiries. Students should speak to me directly. Outside of
simple questions, a private office visit is required for any grade query or dispute. Office
meetings also facilitate personal connection, beneficial forms of relationship, and mutual
If students are dissatisfied with a grade, they may visit me during office hours or schedule an
meeting. Beyond corrections of calculation errors, which may be addressed immediately after
class, I require students to wait at least one full class period after assignments are returned
before discussing grades. I also require students to come prepared with a clear and convincing
case for why a grade should be raised. This involves knowledge of evaluative criteria and
grading rubrics. In the case of papers, students should read and reflect on my comments
carefully and analyze the paper in terms of requirements and the corresponding grading rubric.
Please note that reassessment will not necessarily lead to a higher grade; in fact, a grade may
be lowered. This is neither meant to frighten nor to punish students for challenging my
authority. Rather, it simply suggests that I may have been in an overly generous mood during
my initial reading. Students should also know that it is highly unlikely that a grade will be
changed by more than half a grade, which amounts to about 1-2 overall points at the most.
Consistent progress and evidence of improvement will have greater influence on final grades
than a few additional points on any given assignment.