Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Starting the Guided Pathways conversation at my insitution

I applied to and was accepted to the Clark College Summer Guided Pathways Institute. It is a four day workshop that looks to start the conversation on Guided Pathways (GP) at the college. There have been a number of readings that have discussed the data supporting the use of GPs, different models used, and how Choice Architecture can be applied to helping undergraduates choose majors and/or programs.

Overall I have been really impressed with the thoughtful and smart people in the institute. The conversations have always been positive, constructive, and shared different perspectives I would not have normally encountered in my day-to-day. The readings have been helpful to see what other institutions are doing, and we've begun to think about what parts of these programs we want to try.

Below is a version of a discussion forum post I made to the course site. Feel free to add your thoughts, or comments below.

I finished Implementing Guided Pathways at Miami Dade College: A Case Study and had a few thoughts.
  1. The recommendation "Integrate academic programs and student support services." seemed on-point for our campus. The few times I have reached out to support services the results have always been positive, and we achieved more than I could as an individual instructor. I get the sense that faculty occasionally feel like the world is on our shoulders, when we can (and should) share the load with student support service staff. In most cases they may be better trained and equipped to help in certain situations and with specific student populations. I would love to see a way to integrate these two pillars of the college through Canvas, CTC Link, or some other medium.
  2. The recommendation "Increase student engagement through communities of interest." is very appealing, and would strengthen a number of goals in the Academic Plan. These communities could be students from the same meta-major, and supported through a 'wrap-around' class. As the terms progress students could be exposed to other classes they may want to take, student clubs they may find interesting, student government positions that are open, career services for their industry, and the talks and seminars we regularly put on. (The STEM Seminar Series is awesome btw.) I could also envision these communities of interest organized around specific themes, or the big intractable problems of the day. A Global Warming Group could contain students from biology, government, engineering, and a variety of other meta-majors to talk about the causes, 'controversy', solutions, market applications, and the other facets of this problem.
  3. The "Getting Faculty Buy-In at the Front End" issue, in my view, is one of the thornier questions of this entire endeavor. What does the arc of developing these pathways look like when some faculty don't even recognize the problem?
  4. "Because of the initial positive results from the restructured intake process and the added revenue generated by the improved retention, the college's leadership approved the hiring of 25 new full-time advisors." (emphasis mine) This was not something I thought very much about until reading this article; increased retention rates would help provide for the funding of the continued development of pathways. It may also increase our ability to try new initiatives within pathways as they develop over time.
  5. "Overall, the largest threat to institutional redesign at MDC was organizational inertia. Communicating frequently about progress, building consensus, and creating a sense of urgency were vital to creating a sense of shared ownership and to generating momentum for change across the college." Once we leave this institute, what group/committee/mechanism will there be to communicate progress on developing pathways? How are expectations for progress going to be set? Can the 2016 Fall Term Faculty Workdays be structured in a way to move this forward?