Procedural Fairness of Evaluation


FILE: Report #265
DATE: April 25, 2002
PARTIES: Mr. Z.B. (via tele–conference) v. Faculty of Law

Hearing Date(s): April 1, 2002

Committee Members:
Professor Richard Powers, Interim Chair
Professor Clare Beghtol
Professor Sherwin Desser
Professor David Jenkins
Mr. Kashif Pirzada

Acting Secretary:
Ms. Susan Girard

In Attendance:

For the Appellant:
Mr. Z.B. (via telephone conference)

For the Faculty of Law:
Professor Mayo Moran, Associate Dean, Faculty of Law

Faculty of Law – appeal of a grade for course work – Interim Chair appointed, pursuant to Terms of Reference – independent review of paper – instructor’s original grade and reasons included in rereading process – bias – fairness in process and appearance of fairness in process of equal consideration – process not at arm’s length – failure to provide level of fairness consistent with claim of Faculty – appeal allowed – independent review of paper to be conducted by minimum of two reviewers, selected from outside the Faculty, and who receive only the paper, the course description and an explanation of the requirements for the paper – average of grades received from the two independent reviewers to determine the Student’s final grade for the paper.

Appeal of a grade received on an essay submitted in one course. An Interim Chair was appointed, pursuant to section 1 and section 3(a)(iii) of the Terms of Reference, to preside at the appeal. The Student had received a grade of “C” on a course paper. The Student appealed the grade and an independent review of the paper was completed. The independent reviewer received the paper, the reasons for the appeal and the original comments made by the course instructor relating to the grading of the paper. The independent reviewer concluded that the course instructor’s grade was reasonable. The Committee considered the Faculty’s appeals procedures and found that the rereading process was not an “impartial” and “independent” process because the inclusion of the instructor’s original grade and reasons potentially biased the proceedings. The Committee observed that fairness in the process and the appearance of fairness in the process is of equal consideration. The Committee found that in reviewing the Student’s paper, the independent reviewer was judging the efforts of one of his colleagues. The Committee stated that it was not determining that the independent reviewer was biased in favour of his colleague but it found that the process was not at arm’s length and therefore failed to provide a level of fairness consistent with the Faculty’s claim that it was “in accord with fairness”. Appeal allowed. The Committee ordered that an independent review of the Student’s paper be conducted by a minimum of two reviewers, selected from outside the Faculty, and that the reviewers should receive only the paper, the course description and an explanation of the requirements for the paper. The average of the grades received from the two independent reviewers was to determine the Student’s final grade for the paper.