Cerro Coso Community College

Guided Pathways

What is Guided Pathways?

Guided Pathways provides our students with clear program and career pathways that include high-touch, just-in-time, wraparound student supports to guide them toward successfully completing their educational goals on schedule. Guided Pathways provides our institution with a structure of inquiry and accountability to better implement and scale our efforts to improve the student experience through the lens of equity.

Guided Pathways FAQ

What is the problem we're trying to fix with Guided Pathways?

Our data on success and completion indicates that students have difficulty navigating college, especially our first-generation students, low-income students and students of color. In recent student surveys, we learned of many improvements we can make to help more students reach their academic goals by providing clearer pathways, improving communication, and providing more integrated support services. Data also show that students are losing credits in the transfer process because they are unaware of what they need to take due to our lack of clear advising tools and our current opt-in advising model.

Will Guided Pathways limit options and choices for students?

By clustering courses into academic and career interest areas, and creating a set of refined choices, students are able to explore and make decisions about certificate, degree, and transfer options in a focused manner.

Choice will still be there, but Guided Pathways seeks to eliminate the churning that our students encounter. Without coherent education maps, students take courses that may not serve academic and career goals. Additionally, students have limits as to how many courses federal financial aid will cover.

See Resources and Data: Guided Pathway Resources for more information.

Guided Pathways at Cerro Coso

Cross Functional Inquiry Teams (CFIT)

A key component of Guided Pathways is cross-functional inquiry, which is an inclusive and time-intensive process that seeks to intentionally bring the voices of all stakeholders to the table to ask questions, conduct formalized research and inquiry, and design initiatives for improving student equity and achievement across the entire institution.

In 2017, a small group attended the “Leading from the Middle” academy sponsored by the Research and Planning (RP) Group and developed a formal infrastructure for convening small Cross Functional Inquiry Teams (CFIT) to tackle Guided Pathways projects. The CFIT Handbook came out of this work and directs the work of the CFITS.

Engaging Students in Guided Pathways Inquiry: Student Participatory Action Research (SPAR)

In 2019, the Institutional Researchers teamed up with students and faculty in the Research Methods class to participate in a Student Participatory Action Research Project (SPAR). This project empowered students to apply their learning to an actionable research project at the college and position themselves as change-agents agents at their college. The group of students embarked on a mixed-methods approach to gather student voices regarding the college experience and about the scheduling process.

Early Wins from the CFITs and SPAR

  • Clarifying program information on the college website
  • Developing a clear communication plan for students from pre-enrollment to census day to limit attrition
  • Creating a program-by-program plan of nudges and other communications to increase student affinity with their major and keep them on their chosen degree or certificate path
  • Auditing the entire application process to find and eliminate gaps and barriers
  • Convening a meeting of curriculum, counseling, articulation, and office of instruction to chart the steps in implementing new and revised curriculum to reduce unintended impacts on students
  • “Factor Impacting Students” presentation by the SPAR team at the 2019 Classified Professional and Faculty Professional Development days

Equitable Placement and Support Strategies (AB 705)

California Assembly Bill 705 went into effect in 2018 and represents a drastic change in how Cerro Coso offers remedial/basic skills instruction to students. A key tenet of Guided Pathways, the bill requires colleges to more equitably place students into college level courses and support them in those courses so that they succeed and persist towards attaining their educational goals. Our Math and English departments are in the early phases of transforming how students move through those programs with a focus on equity and achievement.

Future Goals and Projects

  1. Developing and Implementing College-Wide Communication and Marketing Plan
  2. Emphasizing Career Exploration at front end of student experience and program pathways
  3. Increasing Data Literacy College-Wide with a Data Team Pilot