Guided Pathways expands

Students have access to an academic highway that allows them to get to their educational goals faster.

Pierce College has taken the initiative to go forward with implementing the first phase of Guided Pathways this upcoming February.

Guided Pathways has expanded its district-wide grassroots project to Pierce’s website under the faculty and staff page.

The Pathways movement aims to identify its four essential pillars of academic achievement. The goals are to clarify the path for students, help students choose and enter the pathway, stay on the path and ensure students are learning.

Soon, the Program Pathways Mapper pilot, which is an interface that will help students construct a visual map to reach their academic goals, will be released.

Angela Belden, the general education guided pathways coordinator, said the program mapper is guaranteed to help students achieve their goals.

“The pilot program looks great,” Belden said. “The mapper is beautiful and it’s so clear for students.”

Elizabeth Strother, the student services guided pathways coordinator, said the mapper will help satisfy the goals set under the pillars of Guided Pathways.

“The purpose of that is to help students know what they need to do to reach the goal that they want,” Strother said. “A big function of that is counseling, although with Guided Pathways we really want the whole campus community to be involved the whole step of the way.”

Guided Pathways requires a campus-wide effort in order to be successful.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Sheri Berger said Guided Pathways has been an ongoing discussion since last year.

“This will take time, it’s not going to happen overnight,” Berger said. “We have three different priorities we are working on at the same time.”

According to Berger, there was a short window, giving the Academic Senate just until Oct. 8 to come to a solid decision.

Adrian Youhanna, the career and technical education guided pathways coordinator, said the mapper pilot will help organize a student’s educational route.

“It ties in perfectly with Guided Pathways because it will allow students to graphically visualize the path for their selected program,” Youhanna said. “It’s designed to show semester by semester what the student needs to take in order to successfully complete the path.”

The Los Angeles Community College District was accepted into the mapper pilot program on Oct. 9.

According to Berger, five of the nine colleges are starting the program next week, and four are starting in February.

“I think that it will help students maybe be on a better path, so that we’re not having students transferring with over 100 units,” Berger said.

Guided Pathways aims to synthesize the amount of hidden prerequisites students have to take on their educational path, Belden said.

“One of the pieces we are trying to do this year is clear out some of those hidden prerequisites,” Belden said.

These are classes that class that already has a prerequisite has another requisite inside of it.

Strother said there are a lot of goals to be met under the second phase of implementation.

“The first thing we want to do is we want to make sure we have programs established that can get students where they want to go,” Strother said. “We want to make sure that we clarify the path so it’s easy to understand. I want to make sure we’re very good at making paths that can lead to a variety of different scenarios.”

Yohanna said it is critical that staff and students hop on board with understanding what Guided Pathways has to offer.

“Guided Pathways will require the participation of everybody on campus,” Youhanna said. “Not only faculty, but staff as well as students.”

Belden said there will be student focus groups created to help spread awareness about the progression and benefits of Guided Pathways.

“We are also planning on using the focus groups as a way to potentially cultivate an interest in student participation,” Belden said. “We have a goal of doing at least five or six focus groups with between 10 and 20 students so that we can really get a wide arrange of student input.”

According to Youhannao, so far there are 33 people already part of the Oversight Committee formed to help move Guided Pathways forward.

“One of things that we really want to do well is communicate information,” Youhanna said. “The other thing we want to work on is either a monthly newsletter or something where information is being disseminated to the campus community. One of the most important contributors are going to be students.”

Strother said a student voice is essential for Guided Pathways to successfully move forward.

“It’s not just an administrative role, it’s everyone,” Strother said. “We really want students to have a voice because students know better than everybody what they need and what’s working and what isn’t working. If we don’t have that voice, we might impose a system that doesn’t work for our students at all.”