Policy on Use of Graduate Students as Graders

To clarify the use of graders in the context of GEO, the College of Engineering adopted a policy in January 2005 to avoid conflicts with the GEO contract. This policy remains unchanged, however, must be updated to reflect the language and further clarification of the recently drafted GEO contract.

The contract reads:

“The title “graduate student instructor” shall be given to a graduate student who:
a. is employed to teach courses, or coordinate, lead, or assist in the instructional process in direct interaction with students in recitation, laboratory, quiz, or problem sessions or to teach or during office hours; or,

b. is employed to provide tutorial instruction on a regularly scheduled and pre-arranged basis throughout not less than one term, but specifically excluding individuals who provide tutorial instruction on a demand or on-call basis, regardless of the frequency of the demand or calls; or

c. is employed on a regularly scheduled and pre-arranged basis throughout not less than one term to grade papers or examinations in a manner that requires subjective evaluation above and beyond the mechanical or routine comparison of submitted papers or examinations with answers, responses, or elements predetermined as correct or acceptable by another individual or method or (b) provides tutorial instruction. It is understood, however, that the title need not be given to an individual who grades on a demand or on-call basis regardless of the frequency of the demand or calls; or

d. is an experienced GSI and is employed throughout not less than one term by an academic department, school, or college as a consultant and teaching mentor for graduate student instructors in that department, school, or college and whose activities include but are not limited to: observing GSIs, providing feedback to GSIs ; and consulting with GSIs on teaching-related issues.
e. The employment categories described in items 5b. through 5d. shall apply to those who either: a) begin their employment at the outset of the term and are appointed through the end of the term; or b) are appointed within two weeks after the date classes begin as published by the Office of the Registrar for the Ann Arbor campus and are appointed through the end of the term.”
We should avoid practices that fall in the gray area. It is relevant that there are liberal time limits on GEO grievances. A student may be delighted to be a non-GSI grader during his grading service, but later decide he was exploited and file a grievance.

The College policy has four criteria:
i) Anyone assigned as a grader for a particular course is assumed to satisfy condition (e) of the GEO contract language cited above whether or not (s)he grades papers every week. This means that, to avoid classifying the grader as a GSI, the following three criteria must be satisfied.
Non-GSI graders will not:
ii) Have grading-related contact with students in the course being graded,

iii) Provide solution sets nor alternative solutions to those provided by the instructor, nor

iv) Assess the ‘closeness’ of a student’s solution to that of the example in a solution set. It is acceptable to expect graders to use their academic training to recognize whether students’ approaches are similar to those of solutions provided by the course instructor(s).
An example of an acceptable practice for a grader who is NOT a GSI would be where the grader is assigned to course xyz, with no expectation of interaction with students regarding questions about grading, and not being asked to provide solution sets. The grader could be asked to grade problems on a scale of 0-3 where 0 is no solution was attempted; 1 is a solution was attempted but the approach used did not recognizably conform to any in the solution set; 2 is a solution was attempted, the approach used recognizably conformed to one in the solution set, but the answer was not correct; and 3 is a solution was attempted, the approach used recognizably conformed to one in the solution set, and the answer was correct. In this illustration, the non-GSI grader is expected to recognize a pattern of steps that led to an acceptable solution in the solution set, but was not asked to evaluate how close a student’s approach was to the approach given in the solution set, nor asked to recognize that an alternative approach not presented in the solution set might have worked. Any other grading scheme would be acceptable if it complies with the four criteria.