Evaluation of Academic Work

STUDENT HANDBOOK: Academics and Field Work Term

Narrative Evaluations

In addition to feedback during the term, student work at Bennington is evaluated through written reports by faculty members submitted to the Office of the Registrar at the end of each term.

Narrative evaluations summarize an instructor’s view of a student’s progress and are the basis upon which the Office of the Provost judges the student’s capacity to continue at the College (in addition to evaluating the Plan process and FWT). For this reason, and because the end-of-term evaluative reports make up the largest part of a student’s transcript, students should make a point of examining them closely and discussing them with their faculty advisor. The evaluations reflect the significant aspects of a student’s work. While evaluations are not routinely shared with parents or guardians, the student may request the College do so by requesting a transcript from the Office of the Registrar. The final evaluation appraises the student’s work for the term and is part of the student’s permanent transcript. The final evaluation includes a judgment of Pass (comparable to A+ through C), Marginal Pass (comparable to a C- through D-), and Fail. No credits are given for classes in which a student earns a Failing grade.

Faculty provide ongoing feedback on student progress throughout the term. They may document concerns about a student’s progress in a course with a Faculty Feedback Form, which is part of a student’s internal record, but does not appear as part of the student’s transcript. The Faculty Feedback Form is part of an ongoing conversation between the student, faculty member, and the student’s faculty advisor.


Students may elect to receive letter grades (A, B, C, D, F) in individual courses, in addition to narrative evaluations, by submitting the Letter Grade Request Form to the Office of the Registrar by the add/drop deadline. Requests made after the deadline, but before the end of the term, will be considered provided they are approved by the faculty teaching the course. It is not possible to request grades retroactively after the end of the term, nor is it possible to rescind a request for letter grades after the add/drop deadline.

While students at Bennington are evaluated in multiple ways throughout each term, and although the narrative evaluation remains the foundation for all transcripts, many students have found it useful and sometimes necessary to request grades for their transcripts each term during the allowed period. If a student might apply to a post-graduate professional program or to graduate school, we suggest they consider opting for letter grades for at least four terms during their time at Bennington to establish a numeric GPA. Students who might pursue graduate work internationally are strongly advised to take letter grades for all courses. Additionally, if a student receives an external scholarship or grant that requires a GPA, they should request letter grades. Any students with questions about whether or not to apply for grades should discuss the matter with their faculty advisor and the Office of the Registrar, Academic Services, or other members of the Office of the Provost.

Appealing an Evaluation or Grade

If, after considerable reflection, a student thinks that a final evaluation or grade is inaccurate, the student should normally first discuss the matter with the faculty member. If the matter is not resolved after this discussion, the student may appeal the evaluation in writing to the faculty member, with a copy to the Associate Dean of the College stating the specific nature of the inaccuracy. The Associate Dean will forward the student’s appeal to the appeals committee, which may proceed as it deems appropriate to consider the appeal. The decision of the appeals committee is final. An appeal must be sent to the faculty member as stated above by the end of the term following that of the evaluation or grade in question. It is not possible to appeal an evaluation only because a student disagrees with a faculty member’s assessment of the student’s work.

Incomplete Coursework

All coursework at Bennington College must be completed before the end of the term in which the course was offered/took place. Exceptions may be made to this rule as follows:

Students who are unable, for documented health reasons or other serious circumstances, to complete the work of a course during the term in which it is offered may ask the instructor and a staff member in Academic Services for approval to complete the course after the end of the term. Candidates for graduation are not eligible for Incompletes.

  1. The student must confer with both the instructor and Academic Services staff member to request an Incomplete before the end of the term. Students need to determine, in consultation with Academic Services and their instructor, whether the course is eligible for an Incomplete. In situations where an Incomplete is possible, the student must fill out an Incomplete Form and obtain the instructor’s approval; it is the responsibility of the student to submit the form to Academic Services.
  2. The student must provide acceptable documentation of the health situation or other serious circumstances to Academic Services.
  3. Following a careful review of the application, and circumstances/documentation, Academic Services will determine whether or not the Incomplete is approved.

Please note: A student who misses two weeks of classes for any reason, including a health reason, is normally not able to meet the expectations of the course and therefore is not eligible for an Incomplete. A student may be given a failing grade in the course or be allowed to withdraw from the course, depending upon the situation.

The Office of the Provost will consider granting Incomplete status in a course only after these steps have been completed, and normally only if the student requests the Incomplete before the end of the term in which the student is registered in the course. Work in a course that has been granted Incomplete status is normally due a month after the last day of class (refer to the Academic Calendar for specific dates) unless the student, faculty member, and the Office of the Provost make other arrangements at the time the request is granted. This deadline also applies to students who either withdraw or take a leave following the end of the term. If Incompletes are not completed by the deadline, instructors evaluate the students on the work received. Extensions on Incompletes are normally not granted. All Incompletes must be completed/resolved prior to the start of the following term.

For information on incompletes as they relate to Field Work Term, see this section of the FWT Handbook.