“Guided Pathways” is the buzz phrase in higher ed these days. Data is showing how a guided pathway’s solution impacts student success and graduation rates, especially at community colleges. A study by Davis Jenkins and Sung-Woo Cho that was released in 2012 showed more than half of students who entered a program in their first year earned a credential or transferred within 5 years. For students who did not enter a program until their 3rd year, the success rate was about 20%.
The concept of guided pathways makes a lot of sense. It’s pretty amazing how often a student will register for a class that does not advance them closer to their academic goals, thus using up precious financial aid. That being said, it’s a lot of work for an institution to take on. In this case, it literally takes the entire village.
A guided pathway solution can still allow for customization of course schedules by way of academic plans with default choices. There are several other benefits in shifting specific programs to a guided pathways route, including:
- An increase in completion rates through enhanced structure and support for students
- Optimization of the use of financial aid
- Defining and assessing learning outcomes for entire programs
- Faculty working together to create instructional program coherence
- Students seeing the big picture of their program and how individual components lead to achieving their goals
For this model to be successful, there must be a shift in the overall student support network. The American Association of Community Colleges states that the guided pathways redesign model should be built on three design principles:
- Institutions must pay attention to the entire student experience, not just a segment of it
- This is not an isolated solution in a long list of reforms, rather an opportunity to unify a variety of reform elements
- Redesign process starts with the end-goal in mind (ie. employment) and then works backward to map out a program
My intention here is to focus on the student service component of the entire ecosystem. From a student advising perspective, a guided pathways approach elevates the precision needed by student support services. It’s critical that student services evolve with the guided pathways model. Below are some key ingredients to consider:
- Ability to closely monitor student academic plans
- Automatic alerts that are triggered the minute a student falls off plan
- Advisors and faculty can intervene early as at-risk indicators identify students who could potentially fail critical courses
- Advisors and faculty work closely together to monitor and support student progress
- Students can monitor their progress towards achieving their academic goals
Aviso is a turnkey solution that provides academic planning to support guided pathways, coupled with predictive analytics and an engagement platform that easily places a student’s challenges and achievements right in front of student support staff. Rather than a reactive and transactional student environment, the intention is for advisors and faculty to focus on measuring outcomes and continuing to fine tune the guided pathways ecosystem. If you aren’t doing this already, consider conducting a pilot to observe the impact yourself.
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