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Registrar's Office


Academic Policies

 

Academic Honesty

A college is a community of students and faculty interested in the search for knowledge and understanding.  Essential to that search is a commitment to honesty and integrity.  Honesty on the part of every college student has and always shall be an integral part of the plan of higher education at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  Acts of dishonesty conflict with the work and purpose of the entire College and are not merely a private matter between student and instructor.

Violations of academic honesty include but are not limited to:

  • Submitting the work of others as one's own 
  • Plagiarism (as defined below)
  • Communication during an examination
  • Using crib notes in an exam, except as allowed by the instructor
  • Obtaining prior knowledge of examination questions
  • Substitution of another student in an examination
  • Altering College academic records
  • Knowingly using false statements for academic benefit
  • Collaborating on material after being directed not to collaborate
  • Forging a signature of a College official or faculty member
  • Soliciting an official signature under false pretense

Plagiarism - The academic departments of the College have varying requirements for reporting the use of sources, but certain fundamental principles for the acknowledgment of sources apply to all fields and levels of work.  The use of source materials of any kind and the preparation of essays or laboratory reports must be fully and properly acknowledged.  In papers or laboratory reports, students are expected to acknowledge any expression or idea that is not their own.  Students submitting papers are implying that the form and content of the essays or reports, in whole and in part, represent their own work, except where clear and specific reference is made to other sources.  Even if there is no conscious intention to deceive, the failure to make appropriate acknowledgment may constitute plagiarism. Any quotation - even of a phrase - must be placed in quotation marks and the precise source stated in a note or in the text; any material that is paraphrased or summarized and any ideas that are borrowed must be specifically acknowledged.  A thorough reordering or rearrangement of an author's text does not release the student from these responsibilities.  All sources that have been consulted in the preparation of the essay or report should be listed in the bibliography. 

Upon an occurrence of alleged academic dishonesty instructors may exercise their discretion in imposing a sanction.  Instructors may further file charges with the Academic Appeals Committee against students if they believe that additional sanctions would be appropriate.  Instructors shall notify the Registrar in writing of any occurrence of academic dishonesty whenever they have imposed sanctions.  Such notification shall include the student's name, course title, date of occurrence, type of dishonesty, sanction(s) being imposed, and any further action requested. This notification shall be effected within fourteen days after discovery of the incident.  A copy of said notice shall be sent to the student involved, including the charges made against the student and the grounds, if proven, that would justify failure or other academic sanction. If the student involved wishes to appeal the sanction imposed by the instructor, the student must initiate an appeal within two weeks after receipt of this notification. The Academic Appeals Committee shall consider as a basis for a hearing that:  a) the student claims not to have been academically dishonest; b) the student claims the instructor imposed an inappropriate sanction; c) the nature of the offense merits further action. In academic dishonesty cases the Committee may receive requests for hearings from students, from individual faculty and staff members, and from the Registrar.   The Academic Appeals Committee reserves the right not to hear any appeal in any case where data is not sufficient, the necessary steps have not been followed, and when the committee jurisdiction is not clear.

Further information regarding instructor and student rights and responsibilities and appropriate procedures to be followed in applying this policy may be obtained from the Office of the Dean of Academic Affairs or the Registrar.

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Add/Drop/Withdrawal from Courses        

Add/Drop Form

Addition of Courses

Students may add courses during the first seven academic days of each semester.

Dropping of a Course

Students have seven academic days to drop from a full semester course with no academic penalty and no notation that they were enrolled in the course on their records.  Courses running less than an entire semester will have varying drop dates based on the length of the course. 

Withdrawing From Courses

Students who withdraw after the drop period ends and prior to the 50% completion point of the course will incur no penalty as far as the quality point average is concerned but will have a notation of "W" on their permanent record.  No student may withdraw from a course after the 50% completion point of the course.   Any student not attending a course and not officially withdrawing will be issued a grade of "F" on his/her record.  The "F" grade will be used in computing the student's grade point average. 


Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all of their classes.  They must also be aware of course requirements. Whenever possible, students should notify their instructors prior to an absence from class and make up missed work within a reasonable length of time after their absence. Students who expect to be absent from classes for three days or longer should contact the Center for Student Success and Engagement for help notifying their instructors.

Eligible Absences
Absences of students from scheduled classes will be considered excused for the following listed reasons.

  • Participation as a representative of the College in a scheduled intercollegiate athletic event.  It will be the responsibility of the athletic department to notify instructors of the student's participation and absence in advance of the anticipated absence.
  • Participation as a representative of the College in a scheduled intercollegiate club competition or professional/academic conferences, travel courses, or field trips scheduled as part of a course.  The club must be a recognized campus club.  It will be the responsibility of the club advisor or the sponsoring academic/administrative department to notify the student's instructors of the student's participation and absence in advance of such absence.
  • Health and/or disability-related absences for which a valid reason is presented.  Judgment of the validity of the excuse is left to the instructor.
  • Any student of the College who is unable, because of his or her religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirement shall be excused from any such examination or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement, provided that it shall not create an unreasonable burden upon the College.

Accommodations for Eligible Absences

  • Each instructor will develop an excused absence policy, which follows the statement of eligibility above.  In lieu of such individual policy, a department may choose to develop a departmental policy.
  • The absence policy shall be made a part of the course syllabus and shall be made available in print to all enrolled students within the first two weeks of the semester.
  • No student having an excused absence shall be penalized for such absence on account solely of being absent.  Nothing in this policy is intended to excuse a student from the responsibility to make up  missed work within a reasonable length of time.
  • A student with excused absences due to participation as a representative of the College (see 1 and 2 under Eligible Absences) may be held to deadlines for submitting class work provided that such deadlines are a part of the course syllabus and were available to the student within the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Students anticipating absence because of participation in an eligible event shall make arrangements  prior to their absence to make up any missed work. 

Policy on Attendance at Out-of-Class Events

In providing a rich cultural education, MCLA recognizes that a total college experience extends beyond regularly scheduled instruction in a formal classroom or laboratory setting.  There are a number of educational events or activities that occur outside these settings (e.g., concerts, plays, field trips, etc.) which are an important part of the student's liberal arts education.  Attendance at out-of-class events may present hardship for some college students, especially those with jobs and families.  Therefore, reasonable accommodations shall be made for all students with respect to such events, with the following provisions:

  • Instructors may schedule out-of-class experiences as they deem necessary to achieve the purposes and goals of the course for which the event is scheduled.  Students should be given the option of attending the out-of-class experience or their regularly scheduled classes.
  • Insofar as possible, all out-of-class events at which student attendance is expected are to be included on the course syllabus.  In any event, reasonable advance notice of such expected attendance must be given.
  • If the out-of-class event is an exam, the student may opt to take the exam at another time.  This other time shall be mutually agreeable to the instructor and the student and must be arranged prior to the original exam date.
  • Students for whom attendance at any such event will constitute a hardship with scheduled classes and/or family or employment responsibilities, shall be granted an opportunity to complete an equivalent alternative assignment to meet the course requirements without penalty.

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Audit Policy        

Audit Form

A student may audit a course with the approval of the chairperson of the department and the consent of the instructor. Auditors are subject to any conditions established by the department or the instructor.  No credit is awarded for audited courses.  Such courses are officially reported on the student's transcript with the notation "AU" (Audit-No Credit) when all course conditions are met.  Auditor status cannot be changed.


Students register for audit during the first week after the Add Period.  A student who wishes to attend class before audit registration may do so with the consent of the instructor.  Students are responsible for all course fees when auditing a course.  Students who have registered for a grade have enrollment preference over auditing students.

Class Attendance Policy

Students are expected to attend all of their classes. They must also be aware of course requirements. In the event of planned absences, students must notify instructors in advance. In the case of unplanned absences, students should notify their instructors as soon as possible. In both cases, students will work with instructors to craft a plan to make up the work in a manner that satisfies the learning objective in a reasonable timeframe. Students who expect to be absent from classes for more than three class periods should contact the Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) for help notifying their instructors.

A. Eligible Absences

Absences of students from scheduled classes will be considered excused for the following listed reasons.

1. Participation as a representative of the College in a scheduled intercollegiate athletic event. It will be the responsibility of the athletic department to notify instructors of the student's participation and absence in advance of the anticipated absence.

2. Participation as a representative of the College in a scheduled intercollegiate club competition or professional/academic conferences, travel courses, or field trips scheduled as part of a course. The club must be a recognized campus club. It will be the responsibility of the club advisor or the sponsoring academic/administrative department to notify the student's instructors of the student's participation and absence in advance of such absence.

3. Health and/or disability-related absences, or absences resulting from other extenuating circumstances, for which a valid reason is presented. It is the faculty member's decision when verifying the validity of a health and/or disability related excuse to determine if it is acceptable. In the case of an instructor holding concerns or feeling unqualified to make a correct judgment about a student's absence, the Dean of Academic Affairs will make a determination in consultation with the Dean of Student Success and Engagement.

4. Any student of the College who is unable, because of his or her religious beliefs, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirement shall be excused from any such examination or work requirement, and shall be provided with an opportunity to make up such examination, study or work requirement, provided that it shall not create an unreasonable burden upon the College.

B. Student Appeals

If a student believes their grade has been incorrectly penalized as a result of an absence, they may pursue an appeal through the college’s existing undergraduate grade appeal policy.

 

Civic Learning Designation

In 2014, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education called on campuses to make Civic Learning an “expected outcome” for their undergraduates. In adopting this policy, MCLA adopts the Board’s definition of Civic Learning, as outlined in Department of Higher Education memo, Guidance for Designating “Civic Learning” Courses, dated February 12, 2016. In order to achieve this designation, any course must meet the definition set therein, and must demonstrate this through the following process.

Process to assign civic learning designation to a course:
1. Submission directly to the Curriculum Committee of the civic learning designation course form by the department
2. Review and approval of the designation by the Curriculum Committee
3. Notification to the All College Committee of the approval (ACC will not vote on any civic learning designations)
4. The course designation will be entered into inventory


Class Status

Matriculated students are assigned class status according to the total number of earned credits at the conclusion of each semester.

Credits

Class

0-29

Freshman

30-59

Sophomore

60-89

Junior

90 or more

Senior

 

Course Load

Course Overload Form

Fifteen (15) credit hours is the normal academic course load at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.  Students may enroll for up to eighteen (18) credit hours without special permission.  Students wishing to enroll for more than eighteen (18) credit hours must secure the permission of their advisors.  The Dean of Academic Affairs must approve any request above 21 credits.

  

Course Repeats/Off Campus Study Approval      

Course Repeat Form

A course may be repeated.  If the course is required and the student received an F, the course must be repeated.  The grade earned in a repeated course replaces the original grade in the student's quality point average even if the repeated grade is lower.  (The grade earned each time the student took the course remains on the student's transcript, but the course is marked "RX", and the originally attempted credit is not calculated into the quality point average.) 

Students must complete a Repeat Course Form for each course they repeat. Repeat course work taken off campus must be approved prior to the course being taken.

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Declaring/Changing of Major        

Change of Major/Minor Form

Students wishing to change their major must secure a Change of Major form from CSSE/Advising.  This form requires the approval of the chairperson of the new department and must be filed with the Registrar's Office before the change of major takes effect.

 

Declaring a Minor        

Change of Major/Minor Form


Students who are completing the requirements of a minor program must complete a Change of Major/Minor form.

 

Definition of Credit Hour

An amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement that is an institutionally established equivalency that reasonably approximates to not less than:
1. One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different amount of time; or
2. At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, field trips, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours. MCLA in accordance with the federal regulations and commonly accepted practices in higher education operates on a 50-minute hour as it relates to direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two additional hours per week as it relates to other non-direct instructional activities (laboratory, internships, etc.)
Each unit of internship requires a minimum of forty-five (45) hours of on-site experience for each credit hour (See Policy on Internships)

 

Dual Degree Policy

Matriculated MCLA students may earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and/or a Bachelor of Science degree.  Students completing more than one major within either the BA or BS programs at MCLA will have the additional major(s) noted on their transcript but will not receive another degree and/or another diploma and cannot participate in another graduation ceremony.

This Policy is effective immediately upon the approval of the President and supersedes all previous college policies regarding second degrees and dual degrees.

The All College Committee requests that the implications of this policy be made clear to students by the appropriate institutional offices.

 

Grade Appeal

Undergraduate Grade Appeal Form

In cases involving appeals of a course grade, a student has one month into the following semester to initiate an appeal relating to grades earned in the regular Fall or Spring semester.  In all other cases (e.g. summer) the student has one month after receipt of the grade to initiate an appeal.  No grade appeals can be made after these deadlines.

Graduation Participation Policy

MCLA requires that students must complete all graduation requirements by the end of the academic year in order to participate in the spring graduation ceremony. In the case of demonstrable extenuating circumstances preventing a student’s timely completion of all requirements for graduation, exceptions may be granted by the Dean of Academic Affairs, on a case-by-case basis, under the following conditions:

· The student has a minimum GPA of 2.0, and;

· The student’s remaining number of untaken classes and/or incompletes does not exceed six credits, or in the case of unfinished lab courses, a maximum of eight credits, and;

· If the student’s remaining requirement is student teaching, to be completed in the successive fall semester.

The Dean of Academic Affairs may choose to grant the exception, provided the student has demonstrated the ability to complete all remaining coursework by August 31, or by the end of the fall semester in the case of student teaching; in exceedingly limited circumstances and at their discretion, the Dean of Academic Affairs may approve an extension of these deadlines to either the end of the following Fall semester or the next offering of the course(s). If additional courses must be taken, student must submit verification of enrollment in summer courses to the Dean before the exception will be granted. If the unfinished requirements consist of either Incompletes or non-credit bearing requirements, student must submit written completion agreements with the supervising faculty member and/or department chair to the Dean before the exception will be granted.

Independent Study Policy

Independent Study is advanced-level course work, in a subject area not covered in depth by the normal course offerings of an academic department. It should provide within its own structure a valuable experience of independent research, analysis, and reporting which will enhance the student’s grasp of their subject field, and entail the requisite motivation, skills, and discipline of independent work. Independent Study should provide new and unique objectives consistent with the academic program of the student.

Independent Study proposals are to be developed jointly by the instructor and the student. The learning objectives are to be carefully considered and identified in the proposal. The method by which the student will evaluate the learning experience and by which the instructor will evaluate the student must be indicated. It is imperative that instructors evaluate whether the student is able to work independently and will benefit scholastically from such a study.

Students are limited to a maximum of 12 credit hours of independent study and independent research credit, combined. Independent Studies may be taken for variable credit, and require approval of the Independent Study instructor, Chair of the credit-granting department, student’s advisor, and Dean of Academic Affairs. Application for an Independent Study requires that a student be a matriculated junior or senior, with the exception of freshmen and sophomores whose readiness is specifically demonstrated on the Independent Study Application.

The amount of credit to be earned in any independent study course is to be determined by the instructor at the time the proposal is submitted, and may vary from one to three credits, depending upon the number of objectives identified in the proposal, and the degree of difficulty, or complexity, as judged by the instructor.

The number of credits is not to be changed at the end of the study period because the student failed to meet all of the objectives which were identified in the proposal. The grading system cited in the college catalog is designed to provide for this.

Internship Policy

CHARACTERISTICS OF PROFESSIONAL INTERNSHIPS: An internship is a new learning experience, for credit, provided for selected and specially prepared individuals who aspire to become professional practitioners, apply their academic skills and knowledge to work environments, and explore vocations. It is an experience of "reality" in which the knowledge, the skills, and the judgment of the intern are put into play in solving problems which characterize professional practice.

DEPARTMENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

Each academic department may establish an internship course according to the College-wide policies for new course development. Once established, students may apply to take the course for credit under the guidance of a faculty sponsor from the credit-granting department, who will serve as the instructor of record for the course.

FACULTY SPONSOR

A faculty sponsor will be responsible for evaluating individual student readiness for the experience; maintaining regular communication with both the student and external organization during the internship, in order to identify and address challenges as they arise; and evaluating student success at the end of the internship.

OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES

1. Internship opportunities are reserved for matriculated juniors and seniors, with the exception of freshmen and sophomores whose readiness is specifically demonstrated on the internship application. Students must also have a minimum GPA of 2.0. Academic departments have the option to require higher GPAs and/or to restrict enrollment based on class status.

2. No more than fifteen (15) credit hours of internship can count toward a degree. Programmatic exemptions to the credit hour limit require approval of the governance process.

3. A minimum of forty-five (45) hours of on-site experience are required for each credit hour.

4. The internship must be a new learning experience. If the internship is within an organization or location where the student has previous experience, the application must demonstrate how the intern position differs from previous experience.

5. The credit-granting department may establish reasonable additional criteria for accepting students as interns, and also have the option of offering the internship on a pass/fail basis.

6. An internship application, completed in consultation with the faculty sponsor, will require the following information: a. the educational and experiential objective of the internship. b. the on-site work to be completed during the internship. c. the number of hours of on-site work. d. the number of credit requested and method of grading. e. any information regarding prior experience relevant to the internship. f. a plan for evaluating the internship experience.

7. The completed proposal must be approved by the student, faculty sponsor, Chairperson of the credit-granting department, student’s academic advisor, and the Dean of Academic Affairs.

8. Each internship must contain a writing component, evaluation by the site director/supervisor, and a final evaluation by the faculty sponsor.

Departmental Programs

Each academic department may establish an internship program within the confines of the characteristics given in this document.  If they choose to do so, they must develop stated objectives, strategies for meeting these objectives, and criteria for evaluation.  The department would then submit the internship program proposal simultaneously to the Curriculum Committee for approval of the objectives, the strategies for meeting these objectives, and its relationship to the curriculum and to the Academic Policies Committee for approval of the evaluation criteria.  The recommendations of these Committees on each internship program would be forwarded to the All-College Committee and finally the President for his/her approval.

Operational Guidelines

1.  Application into an internship program requires that a student be a matriculated junior or senior with a 2.00 GPA.  Academic departments have the option to require higher GPAs.

2.  No more than fifteen (15) credit hours of internship can count toward a degree.  Programmatic exemptions to the credit hour limit require approval of the governance process.  The Medical Technology program is exempt from the credit hour granted.

3.  A minimum of forty-five (45) hours of on-site experience are required for each credit hour limit.

4.  The internship must be a new learning experience.  If the internship is within an organization or location where the student has previous experience, the student must demonstrate in his/her application how the intern position differs from previous experience.

5.  The credit granting department may establish reasonable additional criteria for accepting students as interns, and also have the option of offering the internship on a pass/fail basis.

6.  To apply for an internship, the student must fill out an Internship Application.  This form will require the following information:

        a.  the student's educational and career objectives

        b.  the educational and experiential objective of the internship

        c.  the on-site work to be completed during the internship

        d.  the number of hours of on-site work

        e.  the number of credit requested

        f.  any information regarding prior experience relevant to the internship

        g.  a plan for evaluating the internship experience.

7.  The faculty sponsor upon acceptance of the student's proposal will submit it to the department chairperson for approval.

8.  The internship application will then require the approval of the Dean of Academic Affairs.

9.  Evaluation Requirements.....each internship must contain a writing component, interim evaluations by faculty sponsor (e.g. site visit[s], evaluation by the site director/supervisor, and a final evaluation by the faculty sponsor.

 

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Leave of Absence

A student whose personal, family, or medical circumstances require a temporary interruption of college study may apply for a leave of absence for up to two semesters.  To apply for a leave of absence a student must complete an application through CSSE/Advising.  Recommendations regarding requests will be made by Advising Services to the Dean of Academic Affairs.  The Dean will make the final decision on the request.

A leave of absence may only be granted to students who are matriculated and in good academic and financial standing.  All students returning from a leave of absence must contact the Registrar's Office no later than December 1 for reactivation in the spring semester and August 1 for reactivation for the fall semester.  Students who are granted a leave of absence before the end of the drop/add period will have no notation on their record for that semester.  Students granted a leave after the add/drop period and through the last day of classes will have a grade of "WX" on their record for that semester.

*Students are advised to contact Student Accounts and Financial Aid regarding refunds, loan deferment/repayment and eligibility for further aid.

 

MCLA Scholar Program

A growing number of MCLA students engage in significant independent scholarly work during their undergraduate years with little formal recognition of their achievements. The purpose of this program is to recognize the outstanding work of these students by conferring the MCLA Scholar designation at graduation and on their official college transcripts. This designation will assist students in their future career and educational endeavors. This program will also provide clear standards for independent work and scholarship to which prospective and current students can aspire and work towards.

Program requirements:

  • At least two semesters (minimum of 6 credits) of Independent Study or equivalent experience in one academic discipline. This work must be independent, substantive, and conducted under the supervision of a faculty mentor.
  • Evidence of professional scholarship in the form of one of the following: a presentation at the MCLA Undergraduate Research Conference, a presentation at a regional/national undergraduate or professional conference, a public art show, exhibit, or performance, or work on art commissions.
  • Application by the student. The deadlines will coincide with the graduation application deadlines in the Fall and Spring of each academic year.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.30 or the equivalent of the cum laude graduation honor.
  • A letter of support from the independent study faculty advisor. A review committee of two faculty (from different disciplines and selected from individuals serving on the Undergraduate Research Advisory Board) and the Dean of Academic Studies will review all the applications and letters to confer the MCLA Scholar designation. The MCLA Scholar designation should also be indicated on the students' official transcript.

 

Off-Campus Study for Currently Enrolled Students  

Off Campus Study Form

Students at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts may enroll in course work at other accredited institutions concurrent with their enrollment at MCLA or during semesters they may be away from the College (e.g., study abroad or domestic study away programs). All such course enrollments must be approved in advance by the student’s major department and the Registrar using the Request for Off-Campus Study Approval form (or the Request for Study Away Course Approval form).

Consistent with MCLA’s transfer credit policy, students receive equivalent credit for courses in which a grade of C- or above, or its equivalent in the case of study abroad courses, is earned. Transfer grades are not included in the student’s cumulative grade point average at MCLA.

This policy also applies to students who plan to take courses off campus while on leave from MCLA or who are withdrawn from the college and are planning to apply for readmission.

Online and Hybrid Course Policy

I. Definitions of the Online and Hybrid Formats

A. MCLA defines an online (or fully-online) course as one in which all of the following are true:

  1. All required actions and interactions of students and faculty occur in the College's learning management system (LMS) ("online");

  2. All required resources (texts, media, materials, tools) are accessible through the LMS or other readily accessible format;

  3. No in-person or face-to-face ("on-ground") interactions are required or expected.

B. MCLA defines a hybrid course as one in which all of the following are true:

  1. The required actions and interactions of students and faculty occur both in physical space   ("on-ground") and in the College's learning management system (LMS) ("online");

  2. The on-ground and online course components are demonstrably, consistently, and pedagogically integrated;

  3. A student is required to spend a meaningful portion of their total instructional time, greater than 0% and less than 100%, engaging with resources and activities in the LMS, as measured by a standard conversion between online activities and on-ground instructional time;

  4. The difference between a course's on-ground instructional time and its total minimum instructional time, as outlined by federal and accreditation guidelines, is met by the measured online instructional time, as an alternative to "seat time", as calculated in I.B.3.

C. The Director of Academic Technology or their designee will determine whether the above structural criteria have been met for a given course.

II. Preparation for the Online and Hybrid Formats

  A. MCLA recognizes that success in the online and hybrid formats requires both students and faculty to have skills distinct from, and in addition to, those needed for success in on-ground courses.

  B. Before a faculty member begins teaching an online or hybrid course at MCLA, they will have completed sufficient training, offered by the Center for Academic Technology, to design and teach online or hybrid courses using specific standards of design and practice. Alternatively, a faculty member may complete a proficiency test to demonstrate meeting these standards, as administered and observed by the Center for Academic Technology. The Director of Academic Technology will ensure that, at minimum, this training or proficiency test will include demonstrated proficiency in:

  1. Identifying course and program outcomes and mapping them to online activities;

  2. Calculating online workload to ensure credit hour requirements;

  3. Meeting baseline standards of accessibility and universal design;

  4. Supporting student success in the online environment with resources including:

     a. Course description

     b. Course outcomes

     c. Required resources/texts

     d. Course expectations and policies

     e. Grading standards and practices

     f. Schedule of dates for online activities

     g. College policies and resources, including:

         i. Academic honesty policy ii. Disability resources

         iii. Technology support resources

  5. Sustaining effective online presence and responsiveness.

C. Since technologies change rapidly, in order to ensure that students receive instruction based on current best practices, each successful training or proficiency test will be valid for no longer than 3 calendar years from its date of completion.

  1. Once a faculty member has successfully completed a training or proficiency test, they may renew their certification by completing "refresher" training of no more than 5 total hours with the Center for Academic Technology, prior to the end-date of the previous period. Such training may take the form of in-person or online workshop(s), seminar(s), or other professional development, and will address current best practices, LMS tools, and governing technology standards regarding:

     a. Accessibility;

     b. FERPA and student privacy;

     c. Copyright and intellectual property;

     d. Multimedia.

  2. If a certification has lapsed, a faculty member may, with the agreement of their Chair and the Director of Academic Technology, apply to renew certification by completing "refresher" training within 1 calendar year of the end-date of the lapsed certification.

  3. If a certification has lapsed for more than 1 calendar year, a faculty member will re-take the initial training as detailed in II.B before teaching an online or hybrid course.

  4. The "date of completion" for faculty who completed certification prior to adoption of this policy will be the date of implementation of the policy. Thenceforward such faculty will renew their certification in accordance with all regular scheduling provisions as articulated in this policy.

  5. In the event of replacement or substantial redesign of the LMS, Academic Technology will offer updated training to all faculty within one year of College-wide implementation. Online and hybrid faculty will complete that training within 2 years of College-wide implementation, or by the expiration of their current certification, whichever is earlier. In such an event the Director of Academic Technology will determine and articulate the standards for identifying a redesign as "substantial".

III. Requirements of the Online and Hybrid Formats

  A. MCLA has an obligation to ensure that an online or hybrid course equals the educational quality of an on-ground course, in standard and measurable ways. An online or hybrid course will meet at least the following standards:

     1. Instructor-posted online content of the course meets federal accessibility standards as articulated in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In online contexts, these standards are met by adherence to the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 level AA, or any successor policy version duly approved by the W3C.

     2. Course uses LMS tools and features to support and enhance student learning in the online or hybrid format.

     3. Students receive regular and timely contact with instructor, as articulated by the faculty in the syllabus.

     4. Graded activities explicitly support course and program outcomes.

     5. Students have opportunities and adequate support for substantive and meaningful interactions with instructor and peers online (and, for hybrid courses, on-ground).

     6. Course design choices, as far as possible, do not privilege students on the basis of access to specific technology infrastructure (e.g. connectivity, software, or device).

  B. An online or hybrid course will be designed, in advance, to do all of the following:

     1. Provide online space and content which are equally accessible, coherent, and navigable across devices;

     2. Provide space for sustained and consistent student-student and student-instructor engagement;

     3. Minimize, as much as possible, technological roadblocks to, or distractions from, curricular engagement;

     4. Leverage available and appropriate features of the LMS to support instructor judgment and assessment of student participation with the best and fullest available information;

     5. Support structurally MCLA's commitment to access, especially as related to student access to digital infrastructure and connectivity.

C. In addition, a hybrid course will be designed, in advance, to do all of the following:

     1. Articulate the proportional weight of both online and on-ground components, and the expectations for student engagement in each component relative to the total course time and grade;

     2. Provide the student an expected schedule of all in-person and/or synchronous requirements;

     3. Be a functional whole, integrating both components into a coherent educational experience;

     4. Articulate how each component addresses the course and/or program outcomes;

     5. Give adequate emphasis to both components, taking care that, in practice, neither component is ancillary to the other, and that neither component alone suffices to meet all required course and/or program outcomes.

D. Evaluation of faculty who teach online and hybrid courses is conducted in accordance with the terms of the applicable faculty collective bargaining agreement.

     1. This policy recognizes that the Center for Academic Technology has a role to support, facilitate and inform Chairs, or any parties with a responsibility to evaluate, by providing information relevant to the technologies used to deliver online and hybrid format teaching, which information can assist the parties in the effective performance of their responsibilities, but which may fall outside the parties' professional expertise.

     2. This policy expects that Chairs, or any parties with a responsibility to evaluate, will seek informational support from the Center for Academic Technology when conducting evaluations in online and hybrid courses, to ensure they have sufficient factual knowledge of the relevant technologies to complete these responsibilities. Such informational support may include fact sheets or similar documentation of the functionality of a technology.

     3. Evaluation of individual faculty members is not the responsibility of the Center for Academic Technology.

     4. Notwithstanding the aforesaid, nothing in this policy shall be understood to contravene any terms of the applicable faculty collective bargaining agreement.

IV. Attendance in the Online and Hybrid Formats

A. MCLA uses the federal guidelines below to determine student attendance in online and hybrid courses: In a distance education context, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate academic attendance by the student. A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity. Examples of acceptable evidence of academic attendance and attendance at an academically related activity in a distance education program include:

- student submission of an academic assignment,

- student submission of an exam,

- documented student participation in an interactive tutorial or computer-assisted instruction,

- a posting by the student showing the student's participation in an online study group that is assigned by the institution,

- a posting by the student in a discussion forum showing the student's participation in an online discussion about academic matters, and

- an email from the student or other documentation showing that the student initiated contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course. (source: FSA Handbook 2019-2020, Volume 5, 5-65,66)

  B. Attendance in a hybrid course is measured proportionally to the stated percentage weight of both course components. For example, in a course which is 65% online and 35% on-ground, a student with full on-ground attendance but no online attendance would have an overall attendance record of 35%.

V. Scheduling Online and Hybrid Format Courses

  A. All materials listing or advertising online or hybrid course offerings will:

     1. Label each course offered in the online or hybrid format as such;

     2. Provide the College definition of the online or hybrid format, and a hyperlink to this Policy;

     3. For hybrid courses, specify the percentages of online and on-ground components in each course;

     4. For hybrid courses, specify the schedule of all in-person meeting requirements for each course;

    5. For hybrid courses, specify the schedule of all synchronous online requirements, if any, for each course.

  B. Recommendations regarding the scheduling of online and hybrid courses falls within the responsibilities of Chairs (or their designees) as per the relevant faculty collective bargaining agreement. To assist the Chair in performing these duties, a faculty member wishing to teach a course in the online or hybrid format will provide to the Chair, at least 14 days in advance of the deadline for submitting courses for scheduling in a term, the following:

     1. Evidence of successful completion of training, as detailed in II.B;

     2. A rationale for offering the course in the online or hybrid format, which refers to pedagogical, disciplinary, programmatic, or other reasons which align with the mission of the College.

VI. Online and Hybrid Course Design and Intellectual Property

  A. MCLA recognizes its obligation to provide students with reliable, accessible, well-designed online course environments.

  B. MCLA recognizes that online and hybrid format courses frequently involve the expertise of College staff in designing and creating online resources in collaboration with faculty.

  C. To protect both faculty's intellectual property rights and the College's ability to develop and sustain high-quality online and hybrid courses and programs:

     1. Chairs should encourage faculty intending to teach online and hybrid courses to investigate whether, and to what degree, any development work necessary to meet the requirements of this policy could be considered "joint work" between faculty and College staff: e.g., "template" content or LMS design structure or metadata.

     2. Chairs should articulate any program requirements or expectations relevant to re-use of course structure or content: e.g., future programmatic or departmental re-use of course structure or content.

     3. Any arrangements for co-ownership or "joint work" arrangements between faculty and the College should be agreed upon in advance and documented in written form.

     4. The College shall not use faculty intellectual property without the express written consent of the faculty member. The written consent should include the scope and duration of the agreed-upon use.


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Probation/Suspension

Academic Standing at MCLA - A student's cumulative MCLA GPA, combined with credits earned, will determine the academic standing category at the end of each semester according to the following standards:

 

Earned credits    GOOD STANDING     PROBATION       SUSPENSION   

0 - 30                  2.000 or above      1.500 -1.999       under 1.500
31-75                  2.000 or above      1.750 - 1.999      under 1.750
76 and above       2.000 or above       no probation      under 2.000

Earned credits include transfer credits and MCLA credits (at the 100 level and higher) in which a passing grade was earned.

Students who are suspended and successfully appeal their suspension will be so designated by a separate category of academic standing that reflects academic probation following a successful appeal of an academic suspension.  The following designations reflect MCLA's Policy on Academic Standing in accordance with a student's cumulative MCLA GPA:

  Academic Good Standing - cumulative GPA of 2.00  
  Academic Probation - student on academic probation
  Academic Probation following Appeal - appeal of suspension approved
  Academic Suspension - student academically suspended
  Academic Dismissal - student dismissed (permanently) from MCLA

 

Academic Warning

A student with a semester GPA less than 2.0 but a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or greater will be issued an Academic Warning.  A letter of Academic Warning will be sent to the student and copied to the student's advisor explaining the potential consequences of poor academic performance (including successive semesters of Academic Warning or future Academic Probation or Academic Suspension).  For each semester in which an Academic Warning is received, the student must meet with his or her academic advisor and complete an Academic Success Plan, which will be submitted to CSSE/Advising for review and appropriate referrals.

 

Academic Probation

A student who fails to achieve a 2.0 cumulative GPA, while achieving a GPA higher than the Academic Suspension cutoff will be placed on Academic Probation.  A student on Academic Probation or Academic Probation Following Appeal must adhere to certain conditions designed to promote academic success.  These conditions may include: (1) course load of not more than 15 credits; (2) academic schedule changes to allow repeat courses; (3) meetings with an academic advisor, learning services, and/or advising services to complete an Academic Success Plan that will monitor student progress;(4) attendance at academic success workshops (e.g. study skills, time management, etc.); and (5) restrictions on certain extracurricular activities as determined by the Office of Academic Affairs or its designate (for the first semester on Academic Probation, a student will remain eligible for participation in extracurricular activities unless individual departments or activities have higher standards).

 

Academic Suspension

Students suspended under this policy may appeal their suspension.  The Registrar notifies students of their suspension and of their right of recourse to the appeal process.  Suspended students may not enroll at the College for one semester.  They may then apply to the Admissions Office for readmission.  The College requires that they complete a minimum of 6 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.0 at another institution before reapplication.     Students must complete an off-campus readmission form available from the Registrar. Approval is  required prior to enrollment in courses.  Students re-applying after sitting out one semester on suspension will be evaluated on an individual basis based on the entire Massachusetts College academic experience and coursework completed at another college.  Students suspended at the end of the spring term may not take courses at MCLA in the summer or fall, and must re-apply through admissions.

 

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Study Abroad/Study Away Policy

Students who study abroad/study away must meet the following criteria:

- Minimum 30 credits earned (sophomore status)

- Minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA

- No holds on student accounts

- Must complete the International/Domestic Travel Statement of Consent Form (the statement is      included below for informational purposes but is not part of the policy)

ON NOVEMBER 19 2015 ACC APPROVED THIS POLICY WITH AN EFFECTIVE DATE OF SPRING 2016. STUDENTS WHO ARE SEEKING TO DO STUDY AWAY OR STUDY ABROAD FOR SUMMER OR FALL 2016 WILL BE SUBJECT TO THESE CRITERIA.

Travel Liability Waiver

Statement of Risk - Study Away and/or participation in a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA)-sponsored travel course is voluntary and not required by the institution for completion of any major or minor academic program. Students should be aware of the potential risk associated with international and domestic travel. MCLA does not encourage, nor promote, the participation in unsafe  activities such as sky diving, off-roading, handling of exotic animals, eating unsafe foods, etc. Students are encouraged to make sure their country of interest is not on the U.S. Department of State Alerts and Warnings list. (see:http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html).  In addition, students should remain abreast of social, economic, and political issues in their country of interest and should be familiar with the laws governing said country. MCLA assumes no liability for incidents and accidents involving the students studying away from the MCLA campus or participating in a MCLA sponsored Travel Course. Students are encouraged to take precautions when traveling away in terms of preparation for emergencies and unforeseen incidents. The College affiliated student health insurance program does not cover international travel, but covers the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Students who are traveling outside of the coverage area are encouraged to purchase health insurance independently or through one of the college's affiliated third party providers: CISAbroad, International Studies Abroad, Semester at Sea.

Code of Conduct

Since academic credit is awarded upon the successful completion of MCLA sponsored Travel Courses or Study Away programs, students are held to MCLA's code of conduct standards regardless of their location. Students represent MCLA and should act in accordance with the MCLA code of conduct. The following is taken from the MCLA Student Handbook found on the MCLA website under Student Life/Resources.  Violations of College policy whenever the conduct in question occurs in any of the following circumstances may be subject to College disciplinary action; - if it occurs while the student who is charged was attending or participating in any college-related activity (such as athletic contests, field trips, study abroad programs or social events).

Assumption of Liability

I am participating in the above captioned study away or MCLA sponsored travel course, and hereby release, waive, indemnify, defend, and hold harmless all MCLA Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, agents, and assignees from and against any and all claims, for bodily injury demands or causes of action of any type whatsoever, including property damage or personal injury, damages, losses and expenses, including but not limited, to attorneys' fees, arising out of or in any way related to participation in this trip with which I choose to participate in. I am aware that there are possible risks and dangers associated with my participation. I assume full responsibility for any injuries or damages I may sustain as a result of my participation, including travel to or from the trip destination. In addition, I assume liability for and agree to indemnify and to hold MCLA Board of Trustees, faculty and staff harmless for all claims or damages caused, in whole or in part, by me and any negligent, intentional, or other act of omission on my part. By signing this waiver of liability and release, I acknowledge that I have read and understood this document and the assumption of liability for students attending MCLA programs. I fully agree and understand all terms and conditions in this document.

 

Teaching Assistant Policy

The College recognizes the value of Teaching Assistantships as an educational experience. To this end, each academic department may establish Teaching Assistantships in accordance with College policy. A student interested in becoming a Teaching Assistant (TA) must be in good academic standing.  The student must also have demonstrated competency in the subject area in which he/she will be assisting. Academic Departments offering Teaching Assistantships may specify additional requirements.

Faculty must then approve the student's involvement in the Teaching Assistantship and the student will then enroll in a department-sponsored course (1 - 3 credits, with one credit defined as 45 hr per semester) specifically designed for the Teaching Assistant experience and approved on a form signed by the student, faculty member, department chair, and Academic Dean. In this course context, a learning agreement will be developed which describes the duties, academic work and authority of the Teaching Assistant; the Office of Academic Affairs will develop a common form for all Teaching Assistantships that will include guidelines for credit and space for detailed description as well as spaces for the appropriate approval signatures. Teaching Assistantships have the option of being either letter graded or taken as pass/fail courses. Students may apply no more than six credits as Teaching Assistants toward graduation.  INDIVIDUAL DEPARTMENTS WILL BE ALLOWED TO USE THEIR DISCRETION REGARDING APPROPRIATE CREDIT EARNED AS WELL AS GRADING MODE.

Students enrolled in a credit-bearing Teaching Assistantship will not be eligible for College workstudy funds or any form of remuneration for the conduct of work done as a Teaching Assistant. While Teaching Assistants may be allowed to review student coursework to learn about the grading process, only Faculty shall evaluate student coursework and assign grades.

 

Withdrawal from College

Students leaving the College must complete a Withdrawal from College form obtained from the Registrar's Office.  Students officially withdrawing before the first day of final examinations will receive a notation of WX in all courses.  After this time students will receive a final grade in all courses.

Note: A student is not officially withdrawn from the College until the appropriate form has been completed and has been validated by the Registrar's Office.

 

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