MCLA lands $40,000 grant to help struggling students

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NORTH ADAMS — The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has received a $40,000 grant to identify and assist students that are falling behind.

Aimed at improving student retention and improving the academic standing of students, the two-year grant from Davis Educational Foundation will establish a system for school faculty to intervene when a student is struggling.

The new protocol, named "Blazing a Trail for Student Success" will utilize the school's existing online course management system to identify a student in need of help, allowing relevant faculty and advisers to step in and improving communication between the parties. The grant will allow for the testing of appropriate intervention strategies and a system for recording those interventions.

The use of the online course management system, "Canvas," allows advisers to become more of an everyday part of students' lives, according to MCLA.

"Not only is it very effective in streamlining communication, it's also an effective way to make sure the information and documentation that is necessary for the advising process is centralized, is easily updated, and is available simultaneously to the advisee and the adviser," said Gerol Petruzella, assistant director of academic technology, in a statement.

The new program will be up and running in the fall of 2016, according the announcement issued by MCLA earlier this month.

"This initiative will provide faculty with technology to support their efforts and [ensure] they develop and maintain deep and sustained advising relationships with students," said Monica Joslin, dean of academic affairs, in a statement.

Throughout New England, the Davis Educational Foundation "supports the undergraduate programs" of colleges like MCLA. Since its establishment as a nonprofit in 1985, the foundation has awarded more than $100 million in grants to more than 150 institutions, according to its website.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.


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