Clarity and respectful communication are essential.
For meetings and communications the following are important to take into account:
- Preparation: prepare well for any meeting or email with a staff member. Being clear as to the purpose of a meeting enables efficient preparation.
- Agenda: part of managing difficult conversations is having a flexible and adaptive agenda. Know your needs and rights and how to state them clearly.
- Equip yourself with relevant information. This information may stem from the SAM, topic guide or lecture notes/recording, and it may become relevant evidence.
- Take notes if possible.
- Follow up or if not, write up your understanding of the meeting as soon as possible. Email a copy to staff member asking them if they agree with your interpretation.
- Phone or informal conversations: Follow up is especially important in these situations. If you believe a certain decision or action was promised, then follow up in writing.
- Evidence: email correspondence and other material form evidence in developing a case. Other student’s testimony if relevant is also important to gather.
- Act or seek help: appeals have strict deadlines. Don’t ignore the problem.
- Professional: be professional rather than personal or impassioned. Even if your relationship is difficult with the staff member, issues can be managed in a non-threatening manner. Be aware of your own anger and frustration and learn to handle this positively. Address the issues or behaviours and avoid attacking the other party.
- Options: ensure you explore all options and be ready for a variety of outcomes.
- Outcomes: be ready to voice your desired outcome or one that you believe is appropriate to both parties. Request a definitive decision or direction forward.
- Support: gain support for your emotional or mental health through the professionals at Health, Counselling and Disability Services allowing you to bring a professional approach to dealings with staff.
- Signing contracts: ensure you fully understand any contract before you sign it. This includes understanding why you are being asked to sign a contract; measureable goals contained in the contract to be reached within certain deadlines; academic and administrative consequences of signing the document; is it an admission of failure or a proper learning contract? Does it have unforeseen consequences?
- 24 hours cool off: it is often wise to give yourself 24 hours at least before signing any contract to allow consultation with friends, family, Student Assist or other professionals.
For formal appeal letters and emails, it is important to consider:
- Written communication: be clear and concise!
- Don’t assume: do not assume the person you are writing to knows anything about your case, the topic or the specific assignment. Imagine you are writing to someone who is a third party with no information on your situation or any context.
- Provide documentation: documentation forms the basis of evidence in developing your case.
Examples of relevant documentation may include (although not limited to):
- medical certificates
- a copy of the assignment
- assignment questions and feedback from academic, if you are applying for a re-mark
- SAMs, topic guides or lecture materials
- other family and emergency circumstances such as death certificates or hospital records
For email, FLO, other communication forms with the University:
Email: check your student email address regularly – it is the main way the University corresponds with you.
The following are essential tools in arguing or developing a case:
- Statement of Assessment Methods (SAM) or topic rule/guidelines
- FLO information
- Academic feedback
- Marking rubrics
- Email correspondence
- Outside evidence (e.g. medical certificates, letters of support or explanation)