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Managing Student Complaints

Knowing how to handle student complaints is an essential skill for department chairs. In an interview with Academic Leader, Patricia Markunas, chair of the psychology department at Salem State University, offered advice on minimizing the number of complaints and managing those that do make it to the department chair.

Markunas groups complaints into two categories: grades and behavior. When not addressed properly, complaints in either category can be a source of unpleasantness, particularly when the student goes up the chain of command looking for resolution.

Occasionally a student is too upset to talk to the faculty member directly, and the chair needs to handle it. When this happens, Markunas asks students to schedule an appointment with her.

Markunas strives to prevent complaints and offers the following advice to faculty:

Reprinted from Academic Leader, 30.5 (2014): 8. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.