Moving from secrecy to transparency: Turning grade appeals into learning experiences

  • Vidar Gynnild


Assessment lies at the heart of the student experience, and grades should be assigned fairly and reliably to the extent possible. Even though nobody would object to this goal, assessment and grading are never a straightforward process, because they require both theoretical insights and practical skills. Subjective judgment is necessary in most instances. Assessment standards are also hard to get to grips with, and not easily communicated to students. This paper draws on a case study of diverse appeals procedures at the University of Oslo involving thousands of students over a 10-year period. The frequency of appeals nearly doubled during the decade, and grades featured greater gaps once access to the originally assigned grades was denied. In conclusion, assessment standards are challenging concepts to deal with. This paper suggests interventions to turn appeals processes into positive learning opportunities.