Guided Pathways Implementation
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Guided Pathways transforms student success through scaled, high-impact practices designed to increase
retention and completion. The ultimate goal is to decrease time to degree completion,
lower educational costs for students, and better prepare them for transfer or the
workforce by identifying a career path early in their education, removing barriers
to their success and providing continued strategic institutional support to help them
persist to completion.
Guided Pathways: What is it?
The redesign of academic programs and support services across the college to provide highly structured academic experiences with integrated processes and systems that support student connection, entry and progress to help students complete the programs they start.
“Central to the pathways model are clear, educationally coherent program maps—which include specific course sequences, progress milestones, and program learning outcomes—that are aligned to what will be expected of students upon program completion in the workforce and in education at the next level in a given field.” (Community College Research Center (CCRC) and the AACC Pathways Project.)
Benefits to Our Students
By identifying a career path early in their education, removing barriers to success and providing continued strategic institutional support to help them persist to completion, the Guided Pathways Model decreases time to degree completion, lowers educational costs and better prepares students for transfer or entry into the workforce.
Colleges that have implemented guided pathways have realized
- reduced dropout rates
- higher graduation rates
- a decrease in students graduating with excess credits
Implementation at PBSC
In 2016 the College established a Guided Pathways Task Force to evaluate best practices and lessons learned from other institutions, and determine the best implementation strategies.
Curriculum Mapping Teams were formed consisting of faculty, advisors and other student services representatives to develop clear paths to student goals. The meta-majors have evolved into Career Pathways and Academic & Career Communities have been created to enhance the college's student success efforts.
In 2018 the college began its partnership with Achieving the Dream (ATD) to build institutional capacity, and was selected in 2019 for the Florida Success Center's Florida Pathways Institute inaugural cohort. As one of the tactics for meeting our Panther Strong 2023 Strategic Plan goals, implementation of the Guided Pathways Model will help the college Engage, Expand and Excel.
The 4 Dimensions of the Guided Pathways Model
Clarify paths to student end goals through the development of program maps to guide students from entry to completion, and beyond!
Help students select and enter a pathway early through career and meta-major exploration that exposes them to program options and careers in the field of study.
Help students stay on their path with structured schedules, embedded milestones, progress tracking, intrusive advising and early interventions if students stray from their path.
Ensure that students are learning by establishing appropriate learning outcomes, implementing best practices and including applied learning experiences.
Student Services Teams
The redesign of student services functions is critical to successful implementation of the Guided Pathways model. Student service area teams are working together to identify and remove institutional barriers that impact student success.
Student Services Implementation Teams consist of representatives from:
- Financial Aid
- Career Services
These collaborations will result in a seamless, cohesive, student-centered approach to assisting students from connection to completion.
New technology will be implemented to facilitate processes, monitor student progress and performance, support early intervention for struggling students, and connect synergistic administrative processes.
Curriculum Mapping Teams
The Curriculum Mapping Teams cultivate synergetic cross-disciplinary collaborations throughout the mapping process in accordance with the four practice areas of the Guided Pathways model.
Mapping Teams consist of faculty members and staff from:
- College Readiness
- Content Areas
- Student Services
The Mapping Teams collected and organized program data to make recommendations for structural and academic revisions by creating a complete curriculum map for each program that incorporates
- developmental and co-curricular requirements
- critical courses for success
- progress milestones
- transfer & career opportunities
A Guided Pathways program map goes much further than simply outlining the course sequence of a program. It includes meaningful elective choices that support students’ academic and career goals.
The typical ‘self-service’ approach to course selection, where students are overwhelmed by choices, usually leads to excess credits, time and money. Instead of taking any course that fits their schedule to meet requirements, students will be guided through a well-organized and thoughtful educational program that is aligned to their academic and career goals.
Some important elements of these program maps:
- Maps are designed with the ‘end in mind’ and incorporate strategic and appropriate choices to support student progress
- Organized by meta-majors or Career Pathway so students can explore and connect to their field of study in their first semester
- Integrate foundation skills and contextualize developmental instruction to help students succeed in critical courses
- Help students progress in a timely manner through structured course sequencing and embedded milestones
- Learning outcomes are aligned to facilitate achievement of career and transfer goals
- Incorporate extra-curricular activities and other non-academic enhancements to promote student persistence, completion and achievement of goals
- Include information about career and transfer opportunities upon completion
The Student Perspective
Program maps have been created for students and advisors to clearly map the route and avoid unnecessary delays and excess credits. Through a redesigned connection and entry process that includes early career exploration and goal setting as part of the admission intake experience, students identify a Career Pathway that aligns with their goals, needs, and interests. And by grouping students into career pathways, connecting them to content courses early, and guiding them to strategic courses, their general education and elective courses become more relevant. This combination of connection and structure promotes persistence and completion.
Exploration & Connection
Find Your Path is a specially designed first semester for undecided students which provides opportunities to explore academic and career options while keeping them on path for timely completion once they choose their track.
Progression & Completion
Full and part-time students will follow the 15 to Finish, Flex to Finish or Follow to Finish plan depending on their AA or AS program choice. These plans will keep students on track for success, timely completion and transfer to a bachelor’s program or entry into the job market.
The Student Experience
PBSC strives to enhance student engagement initiatives and address the Benchmarks of Engagement measured by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), which include Student-Faculty Interaction, Support of Learners, and Social Integration. The implementation of the Guided Pathways model also supports these efforts. Under the ENGAGE strategy of PBSC’s Panther Strong 2023 Strategic Plan, “Academic & Career Communities” have been established for each of the Pathways to support the college's Build Learning Environments goal.
Each Career Pathway is grouped according to State of Florida Department of Education established meta-majors for Florida Colleges. These broadly related areas of study allow students the opportunity for exploration but also supports contextualized learning. Students will be exposed to content and connect with content faculty and other students within their pathway in their first semester.
- Arts, Humanities, Communication and Design Career Pathway
- Business Career Pathway
- Education, Social & Behavioral Science and Human Services Career Pathway
- Health Sciences Career Pathway
- Industry, Manufacturing and Construction Career Pathway
- Public Safety Career Pathway
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Career Pathway
Shaping Academic & Career Communities
Academic & Career Communities create shared places for faculty and students to build connections, collaborate and succeed. By creating meaningful opportunities for students to connect with their peers, faculty, academics and future careers in more tangible and intentional ways, these communities will provide a richer educational experience.
In addition, these communities will enhance delivery and effectiveness of student advising and support services, maximize college efforts and resources, and provide increased opportunities for inter-disciplinary collaboration, teamwork and innovation.
As the Guided Pathways model promotes completion while reducing excess credit hours, it also addresses the needs of students who require additional coursework in EAP, Math and/or English.
PBSC’s College Readiness program is developing multiple strategies to identify student needs, ensure appropriate placement and support, and enhance student progress while on-ramping them onto their chosen tracks within each pathway. Multiple measures for assessing and placing incoming students are being formulated in partnership with the Palm Beach County School District. After a careful analysis of student success rates in Developmental Education (DevEd) and college credit-bearing courses, new plans are being created which identify recommended content coursework to be taken concurrently with the first semester DevEd coursework.
These Get on Path plans connect students to their Academic & Career Communities at the onset of their educational experience and effectively transition them from DevEd coursework onto their tracks.
Timeline & Progress
With the establishment of the Guided Pathways Task Force in 2016, Palm Beach State College joined the ranks of innovative institutions seeking dramatic reforms to increase student success. Implementing the Guided Pathways Model requires careful preparation in the planning, implementation and evaluation stages of the Guided Pathways Framework established by the AACC. PBSC is making measured but steady progress as we move beyond the planning stage to implementation.
Guided Pathways to Success Implementation
- Default first semester schedules have been developed for undecided students to Find Your Path.
- A cross-functional curriculum and advising team identified over 42 marketable transfer AA tracks within PBSC’s Career Pathways. Programs are continuing to identify and develop new tracks to serve student needs.
- 15 to Finish plans for full-time students and Flex to Finish plans for part-time students have been developed.
- Mapping Teams have completed 19 AS programs with more to come.
- Critical milestones have been identified. These will facilitate early intervention and support to students who are struggling to succeed.
- Teams are identifying and strategically sequencing courses leading to embedded College Credit Certificates.
Student Services & Advising
- Student Services teams are working on the redesign of student intake, career and advising services to promote successful connection, entry and completion.
- Case Management advising has been implemented and advisors have been assigned to Academic & Career Communities. Advisors can now become specialized navigators for their assigned meta-major.
- Academic and Student Services representatives have been appointed to each Academic & Career Community to develop an integrated framework for academic and student success.
State of Florida Initiatives
Our efforts to implement the Guided Pathways Model is now supported by the establishment of the Florida Student Success Center in 2018. The center launched the Florida Pathways Institute (FPI) to help Florida College System institutions "advance serious work on the necessary aspects of the design and implementation of structured guided pathways".
With this statewide move, the Florida College System is modeling other state systems which support institutional efforts to develop and implement the Guided Pathways Model including California, Washington, Virginia and New Jersey.