Gavilan Builds Student Success with Guided Pathways Implementationby on Jun 9, 2017
Beginning with Superintendent/President Kathleen Rose's Convocation last August, followed by the formation of a focused inquiry group (FIG), Gavilan College explored approaches to Guided Pathways implementation through the academic year.
Ron Johnstone, with the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement, spoke during the morning presentation and offered information and examples in a two-hour session in the afternoon. Since then, Karen Warren and Doug Achtenberg, Title V co-directors, have facilitated bimonthly meetings with administrators, staff, faculty and students to research, plan and implement Guided Pathways.
"We are getting people to the table to discuss pathways," said Dr. Rose, "which will be at the forefront of the cabinet." She noted that Gavilan has experienced transformational change, and real implementation of Guided Pathways will begin Fall 2017.
Fundamentally rethinking the current structure using a pathways model
Johnstone used a Cheesecake Factory analogy to illustrate the choices community colleges currently offer to students, concluding it is too many, with too little context or guidance. Others call it cafeteria style. Many students are not sure if college is right for them, and preparedness is tested on the two subjects many hated most in high school. He also said underpreparedness is the same nationally, and only one in six students earns a BA in six years.
Given too many choices and too little guidance, students express frustration and
often fail to continue after their first year of college.
Questions students want answers to, even if they don't ask directly, include career options, educational paths, classes required, how long to complete, how much will it cost, is financial aid available, and will credits transfer to another school. Without clear answers, students can lose sight of goals, persistence drops, and half may drop after the first year. Students take classes that do not support their degree requirements. Taking too long, or too many units, puts their financial aid at risk.
The California Community Colleges key elements, supported by the Chancellor's Office and the Governor's $150 million Guided Pathways budget, outlines six components:
- Programs fully mapped out and aligned
- Redesigned basic skills integrated into basic educational classes
- Structured onboarding to provide students with clear, actionable information
- Proactive academic and career advising from start through completion or transfer
- Early alert systems to flag difficulties and redirect back to the student's goals
- Instructional support aligned with classroom learning
Nationally, 6.3% of students complete the AA in two years. Notably, community college athletes have a greater rate of success, 65-70%, than the average student. They have clear pathways. They have coaches as instructional agents invested in their success. They have a powerful peer group and structure. And they have mandatory tutoring, as a group. All of these activities map back to critical Guided Pathways elements.
Gavilan departments build pathway models based on student needs
The focused inquiry method allows faculty, staff and students the opportunity to share direction, raise issues and develop solutions in a collegial environment.
In March, Child Development Education instructors Pat Henrickson and Claire Bossie presented their exploration remapping the structure of the department. The program offers four certificates, two AA degrees and one AA-T degree. Students have a diversity of age, from high school students to working professionals returning for additional training. And most students are part time.
The instructors outreach at area high schools, enlisting early interest in child development. CDE offers classes at high schools for college credit held immediately after the regular classes end, so students have dual enrollment. When students enroll at Gavilan, they have already earned college units, reflecting progress toward their goals.
To address the state mandate that a BA is required to teach in early childhood programs, the CDE program has expanded its partnerships with four-year schools, and all the classes will be aligned by Fall 2017.
At a May meeting, STEM Activities Director and math instructor Marla Dresch presented a draft, four-phase outline to incorporate Guided Pathways fundamentals into the STEM program, moving more students through the program more quickly.
In the first phase, high school students are encouraged to take an interest survey, identified and recruited for the STEM Summer Bridge, a two week program they attend immediately after high school. During the program, they learn about STEM education and careers from STEM professionals and students and learn about internships and opportunities. They also enroll in Math Boot Camp.
The second phase begins with the students' first year at Gavilan, where they receive proactive counseling from a STEM counselor and faculty advisor. In their studies they have access to academic support in the Math Lab, STEM Center Science Study room, Tutorial Center, workshops and tutors in the classroom. They take accelerated math and English courses, and their other classes imbed a STEM emphasis. Financial support includes loaned books, calculators and laptop computers. Students are encouraged to participate in Rho Alpha Mu, Science Alliance and other college activities.
The third phase, keeping students engaged and on the path, is recruitment and enrollment in the summer STEM Academy, with additional guidance, narrowing their STEM field of study and becoming a math tutor or science supplemental instructor in the classroom. A second full week of Math Boot Camp strengthens the required math skills. In their second year at Gavilan, students receive guidance on majors, learn about transferring to a four-year school and apply for summer internships.
In the final phase, students remain persistent on their paths with program and peer support, receive paid STEM internships working with area professors or private industry, and present their researching findings at the end of summer. They continue the classes outlined on their pathways, complete higher level coursework, and transfer to four-year institutions.
Career Ladders Project offers Guided Pathways facilitation
Career Ladders Project, a team of educators studying the efforts and successes at other colleges, has been working with Gavilan's Guided Pathways FIG to present different approaches. A two-day summer workshop, with paid stipends for faculty and staff, is slated August 17-18. Complete information on registering is available at www.gavilan.edu/academic/guided-pathways/index.php
"We are interested in implementing Guided Pathways, and bringing the published Educational Master Plan to the discussion," said Dr. Rose. "Guided Pathways will be a focus for the next ten years." She attended a unique conference, the New York Times Higher Ed Leaders Forum, May 30-June 2, with national leaders focused on these issues and will bring back best practices.