Orange Coast College is in the inquiry stage of implementing “guided pathways” at the college, a statewide initiative to reform course sequences and pathways for community college students.
The California Community Colleges Guided Pathways movement involves creating a highly structured framework when it comes to course succession. The project is intended to streamline student success at community colleges by redefining course and major pathways while allowing students to explore their options. Changes could include a redesign in course catalogs, restructuring in counseling resources and reforms to the DegreeWorks resource.
At a guided pathways kick-off earlier this month, faculty and staff leading the project voiced what they would like to see from come from guided pathways and asked for student input.
“To be honest with you, we are in the inquiry stage, which is a very important stage. That stage is what we are doing right now, we are asking you what are the problems,” OCC sociology instructor and a faculty coordinator for the project Jessica Alabi said. “We’re going around the college to see what works and what doesn’t. We’re empowering people to tell us what students have been experiencing and that’s an important part because you don’t want to throw away things that work and you also want to get everybody on board.”
Given the college is still in the beginning stages of guided pathways, the next stages being design and implementation, faculty leaders for the project like health and physical education instruction Anna Hanlon said the specifics of these changes are still being worked out as they work in a collaborative effort with faculty, administration and students to determine what currently works and what changes should be made in the future.
The overall process could take five to 10 years to fully implement campuswide, but some faculty and staff said they predict changes could be seen as soon as the spring semester.
“There are some things that we will realize are creating barriers for students and if there are things we can fix immediately, we will fix them immediately,” Hanlon said. “Some things may be more structural in nature that we will come up and we will take them up with participatory governance committees and we’ll develop strategies to implement.”
Janet Fulks, a biology professor at Bakersfield College who helped spearhead the national guided pathways movement at her school, spoke at the session about ways in which OCC can be more collaborative and suggested the school seek out more student volunteers to assist in the inquiry stage.
“I think you are going to see changes pretty quickly,” Fulks said. “I think when you come back in the spring you’re going to see things that are different and better because of your input.”
The design teams for the project are separated into three sections — curriculum, onboarding and intervention — each led by one faculty advisor and another administrative person. The teams welcome student volunteers for input, however.
“Our task is to make it easier for you to choose a program and a sequence of courses that will help you reach your educational goal,” Charles Otwell, an OCC philosophy instructor and faculty advisor for the curriculum team said. “This will include perhaps doing some redesign on how you look on the web at Orange Coast College — what things are going to look like for you and what sort of choices as you first start entering and how you can tunnel down and find exactly what you need.”
The intervention team includes support services that are available to students on campus and “checking in on students along the way,” according to Hanlon. The onboarding team she said pertains to outreach, helping “students navigate even just getting their classes” and finding resources on campus like the food pantry.
Hanlon said guided pathways aims to create a more hands-on and personal approach to course-taking and creating a comprehensive path for students from registration to graduation or transfer.
“We also want to let students explore. Very few people know at 18, 19, 20 what they want to be when they grow up in truth,” Hanlon said. “So it’s not about making an 18-year-old decide what they want to do, it’s about you have a general sense of what you enjoy, what you might want to be. So helping them get on that path and they can refine it as they go.”