Pathways at Alamo Colleges
What is the Pathways Model
The Pathways Model is an integrated, institution-wide approach to student success based on intentionally designed, clear, coherent and structured educational experiences, informed by available evidence, that guide each student effectively and efficiently from her/his point of entry through to the attainment of high-quality postsecondary credentials and careers with value in the labor market.
Central to the pathways model are clear, educationally coherent program maps that include specific course sequences, progress milestones, and program learning outcomes that are aligned to what will be expected of students upon program completion in the workforce and in education at the next level in a given field.
Students are helped from the start to explore academic and career options, choose a program of study, and develop a plan based on the program maps. These plans simplify student decision-making, and they enable colleges to provide predictable schedules, frequent feedback, and targeted support as needed to help students stay on track and complete their programs more efficiently.
They also facilitate efforts by faculty to ensure that students are building the skills across their programs that they will need to succeed in employment and further education.
AlamoInstitutes are Pathways
The five colleges of the Alamo Colleges District have adopted a pathways model called the AlamoINSTITUTES, comprised of six career institutes designed to guide students to academic choices that lead to successful employment and life-long careers.
Each institute represents a system of educational pathways toward specialized careers. Students can choose a general field of study or a specific job, and the institute will guide them, step by step, to arrive at the future they want. Each course taken in the chosen institute builds on another. This proven approach saves students’ time and money.
Alamo Pathways Advisory Council
The Alamo Colleges District recognizes the critical impact that advisory committees serve in preparing students for today’s workforce.
Advisory councils serve to inform program administrators and faculty, ensuring our programs maintain the level of quality insisted upon by both students and employers. Through their members, advisory councils provide a cross-section of expertise and experience to effectively influence the direction and momentum of educational pathways at the Alamo Colleges.
The Alamo Colleges value the expert advice and contributions that committee members make regarding curriculum, equipment/technology, internships/apprenticeships, and ultimately, job opportunities.
The Alamo Colleges District is committed to integrating employer feedback, career information, and marketable skills across curricula, aligning academic programs and pre-majors with career paths and informing Institutes with employer recommendations for successful pathways to students’ career readiness.
Guided Pathways Essential Practices
The four dimensions of the Pathways Model, together with essential practices under each, are the following:
- Simplify students’ choices with default program maps developed by faculty and advisors that show students a clear pathway to completion, further education and employment in fields of importance to the region.
- Establish transfer pathways through alignment of pathway courses and expected learning outcomes with transfer institutions, to optimize applicability of community college credits to university majors.
- Bridge K12 to higher education by assuring early remediation in the final year of high school through the application of courseware technology in strong K12/higher ed partnerships, such as the TN SAILS model.
- Redesign traditional remediation as an “on-ramp” to a program of study, which helps students explore academic and career options from the beginning of their college experience, aligns math and other foundation skills coursework with a student’s program of study, and integrates and contextualizes instruction to build academic and nonacademic foundation skills throughout the college-level curriculum, particularly in program “gateway” courses.
- Provide accelerated remediation to help very poorly prepared students succeed in college-level courses as soon as possible.
- Support students through a strong advising process, embedded and ongoing in the pathway experience and supported by appropriate technology, to help students make informed choices, strengthen clarity about transfer and career opportunities at the end of their chosen college path, ensure they develop an academic plan with predictable schedules, monitor their progress, and intervene when they go off track.
- Embed academic and non-academic supports throughout students’ programs to promote student learning and persistence.
- Establish program-level learning outcomes aligned with the requirements for success in employment and further education in a given field and apply the results of learning outcomes assessment to improve the effectiveness of instruction across programs.
- Integrate group projects, internships, and other applied learning experiences to enhance instruction and student success in courses across programs of study.
- Ensure incorporation of effective teaching practice throughout the pathways.
Research and experience in the field indicate that the following capacities are essential for motivating and supporting higher education institutions and systems to undertake the broadscale institutional reforms involved in implementing guided pathways effectively and at scale.
- Leadership demonstrating skills for managing and sustaining large-scale transformational change.
- Broad and authentic engagement of college faculty and staff—particularly advisors—in the design, implementation, evaluation, and ongoing improvement of pathways for students.
- Institutional will and capacity to use data and evidence to design academic and career pathways, monitor student progress, and implement needed improvements over time.
- Technological tools and infrastructure appropriate to support student progress through guided pathways.
- Commitment to the level of strategically targeted professional development that will be required to design and implement pathways at scale.
- Policy conditions established at the state, governing board, system, and institutional level that provide incentives, structures and supports for pathway design and implementation at scale while removing barriers.
- A continuing action research agenda that examines the efficacy of guided pathways and develops practical knowledge and tools to support effective implementation at scale.