Guided Pathways Report Issued

Let’s presume by now we are all basically familiar with Guided Pathways, a multi-faceted project to expedite student progress through the community college curricula and on to their next chosen step. But the project is more comprehensive than trimming the traditional cafeteria-style menu of student options. The process should be of interest to faculty members in all fields.

A new report from the Community College Research Center is based on the early work of 30 colleges that are participating in the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project and have committed to redesigning their programs and support services at scale. CCRC researchers conducted telephone interviews with project leaders from all 30 colleges to discuss their self-assessments of the extent to which they were implementing elements of the guided pathways model. Researchers also conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with faculty, advisors, and students during site visits at six of the colleges, according to the report.

If you scan through the 60-page document you will discover narratives or charts involving Texas community colleges, including the Alamo Colleges, El Paso Community College, and San Jacinto College. These schools are particularly important for us to observe, since the Pathways Project in our state must fit within the context of Texas statutory and regulatory stipulations. Efforts at schools in other states may not be as pertinent, but are still worthy of perusal. Those at small colleges may wish to seek out institutions of similar size in the report.

Please become familiar especially with the concept of “meta-majors,” which are explained in the document. Also, if you are in the domain of developmental education, you will discover that some reported changes are designed to shift the emphasis from stand-alone DE courses to co-requisites. You will note that transformation of the advising process is now taking place, with funding implications. Dual credit ramifications are explored. In other words, there is ample room for discussion and controversy in the project.

As you will see, schools are working to make sure students can easily change their minds in choosing a path. This is important, especially with teenagers, who may need room to explore. Flexibility—or lack thereof—is the heart of the matter.

The Guided Pathways Project is not another educational flavor of the month. If you are invited to participate in its development at your school, please take the opportunity, and visit with colleagues about issues of concern. Flow charts with categorical boxes and arrows can metastasize arbitrarily without input from practitioners on the ground.