Student Equity Reenvisioned

Guided Pathways

A SER Proposed Model

Guided Pathways

In an effort to increase student success, the California Community College system is now participating in a

national organized reform designed to improve community college outcomes. Referred to as Guided Pathways,

this model is “based on coherent and easy-to-follow college-level programs of study that are aligned with

requirements for success in employment and at the next stage of education.”  More specifically, this attempt at

reform has manifested itself in California under the title of The California Guided Pathways Project. It is

directed by the California-based National Center for Inquiry & Improvement and coordinated by the Foundation

for California Community Colleges. The aim of Guided Pathways is to “to help students clarify their goals,

choose and enter pathways that will achieve those goals, stay on those pathways, and master knowledge and

skills that will enable them to advance in the labor market and successfully pursue further education.” This is

accomplished by redesigning and/or realigning college programs, support services and instructional approaches.

Using the Guided Pathways model, students are assisted in:

Exploring academic and career options

Choosing a program of study

Developing  a plan based on the program maps

The integrative approach to undergraduate education through the Guided Pathways model serves to:

“Simplify student decision-making . . .”

“Enable colleges to provide predictable schedules, frequent feedback, and targeted support as needed to

help students stay on track and complete their programs more efficiently. . . ”

“Facilitate efforts by faculty to ensure that students are building the skills across their programs that they

will need to succeed in employment and further education . . .”  


The Challenge Initially, it appears that most Guided Pathways models in California focus on creating what is termed meta- majors and then group under those categories relevant associate degrees including AA/AS and ADT degrees as well as certificate programs offered.  Within the context of transfer, the ADTs and/or major specific articulation agreements available on ASSIST already serve as a “Guided Pathway” for CSU-bound students. Similarly, completion of IGETC and a UC transfer pathway and/or the major preparation requirements on ASSIST serve as a “Guided Pathway” for UC-bound students. Consequently, what most community colleges seem to be leaning towards at this point is “repackaging” what already exists while trying to increase the integration of student support services into this framework. Bakersfield Community College exemplifies this model as it has created ten meta-majors and provides a “list of completion coaches and programs of study for each category.” The programs of study are the ADTs they offer.   The reality is that most California community colleges are somewhat perplexed on how to implement Guided Pathways. In response, the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI) and the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office have coordinated a series of workshops to provide guidance and examples. To a certain extent, the obstacles experienced by California community colleges in implementing Guided Pathways as it relates to transfer are fueled by the following: Transfer curriculum is prescribed and determined by UC and CSU campuses leaving community colleges with little control to determine transfer requirements. Narrowing down student course options does not exempt them from having to fulfill the requirements and may be detrimental to self-exploration. Transfer initiatives such as UC Transfer Pathways and SB 1440, which has triggered the design of Associate Degrees for Transfer, have provided some curricular alignment within majors, but these efforts are still under the purview of the UC and CSU systems respectively. External factors that affect a student’s ability to achieve their educational success are not explicitly addressed under the present Guided Pathways framework. For example, financial challenges, life responsibilities outside of education, personal and emotional challenges, and a lack of academic foundations necessary to succeed in higher education.
History Department Program Map To further facilitate educational goal completion, a Guided Pathway Program Map for students that align the UC Transfer Pathway with CSU Associate Degrees for Transfer needs to be created. The aim of this objective is to simplify major course selection for students while providing transfer flexibility into either four-year system. SER, in collaboration with History Department, has already created its Guided Pathway Program Map to serve as a model.  Please see below.
A SER Proposed Model In working with El Camino College’s  History Department, a framework was created the seeks to accomplish the objectives of Guided Pathways as follows: By having students enroll in a foundational course that introduces them to the different programs of study within the Social Sciences (History being one of them) and that also embeds academic counseling, career planning and academic skills set development. By illustrating to students the alignment of courses required by the University of California Transfer Pathway with those required by California State University’s Associate Degree for Transfer. With vision towards addressing equity gaps and Guided Pathways, SER in collaboration with the History Department developed an interdisciplinary course entitled Social Science 101: Introduction to the Social Sciences. Social Science 101 addresses the four pillars of Guided Pathways and student equity in the following ways: It introduces students to programs of studies in the Behavioral and Social Sciences. It integrates academic counseling and career counseling into the course. It instructs students on the academic skill sets associated with the Behavioral and Social Sciences. It integrates high-impact practices to ensure students are learning. In the best of all possible worlds, Social Science 101 should be taught as a learning community with an English 1A course. However, Social Science 101 can also be offered as a stand-alone course. Below is an example of what a first year student’s schedule would look like who is interested the Behavioral and Social Sciences and is enrolled in Social Science 101.

History Department Program Map

First-Year Student Education Plan - BSS Focus

Guided Pathway Program Map Designated History Courses Those courses which are part of the History Guided Pathway Program Map will ensure that the four pillars of Guided Pathways are addressed. These objectives have been adopted from the California Guided Pathways Project model.
To meet this program map objective, the History Department has created a transfer pathway/student education plan that aligns all the courses that meet the UC Transfer Pathway and the Associate Degree for Transfer requirements for the History major. In addition, the completion of this transfer pathway/education plan also qualifies a student for the AA-T in History and for the UC TAG. Students are advised to regularly visit the UC TAG website or specific requirements and participating UC campuses in the UC TAG program.  Students are also advised to regularly visit CSU Student Transfer for CSU campuses that have identified history as a similar major. Guided Pathway designated history courses will continue to re-enforce throughout the semester the foundational skills needed for both success in college- level curriculum and success as a history major. These courses will explore integrating the Reading Apprenticeship Framework, Growth Mindset, writing as a method of learning about discipline-specific conventions, educational neuroscience lesson designs and blended learning designs to re-enforce foundational skills (example). In addition, faculty teaching these courses will serve as mentors to students through discipline-based career advisement. Guided Pathway designated history courses will integrate intrusive academic and career advising. Counselors will visit the class on two occasions and will conduct follow-up appointments with students. Blended learning modules will lay the foundations for counselor visits to the classroom (example).  In addition, Guided Pathway designated courses will use PASS Mentors. The function of PASS Mentors “is to assist students with course content in the classroom and in the PASS sessions.” PASS Mentors meet on a weekly basis with instructors “to discuss specific issues, content or directed activities to be covered in PASS sessions [and] to discuss the specific challenges students are having with the course content.” The History Department already has in place course level and program level learning outcomes. To enhance the learning experiences of students enrolled in the Guided Pathway designated history courses, faculty will also integrate high-impact practices that may include but are not limited to service learning/community-based learning, undergraduate research and signature work, threshold concepts and wicked problems, collaborative assignments and projects, and diversity and global learning experiences.  
Jason Suarez SER Faculty Coordinator
Wendy Lozano Student Services Specialist Student Equity