Guided Pathways and Equity
Leadership Advisory Workgroup
In 2015, the college made a startling discovery. A review of their 2010-2014 cohort data of all first-time students, a total of 2,474 students, revealed that only 9.8 % of these students had completed a degree or certificate in the course of four years. African Americans, African American males, Hispanics, part-time students, and older students were the lowest-performing across all metrics. In response, a Completion Initiative Summit was held in which attendees carefully reviewed two documents: 1) The 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence; and 2) The Game Changers, a document produced by Complete College America. Simultaneously, the College was preparing its Equity Plan, framing its discussions around Completion by Design’s “Loss and Momentum Framework,” and the work done by the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (The RP Group) which focuses on six success factors that contribute to student achievement.
Based on this research and its own completion data, Norco College designed a holistic Completion Initiative (now Guided Pathways) comprised of five interconnected components, each of which addresses institutional barriers to completion: meta majors, guided pathways, faculty advisement, linking college work to careers, and developing models of student care. The academic senate and key shared governance committees have strongly endorsed the Guided Pathways and are now engaged in all aspects of its implementation.
- Meta majors (renamed Schools) – The College has developed four schools with the intent of helping students choose a major and degree based on their interests, knowledge, skills and abilities. The four schools are Arts & Humanities, Business & Management, Social & Behavioral Studies, and STEM (with subdivisions of Science & Health and Technology, Engineering & Math). Within each School, a community of learners is created amongst students with similar academic interests.
- Guided Pathways – Starting with its Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADT’s), the college is also developing highly structured pathways that identify the courses students need, grouped within 15 unit increments. This is designed to minimize the choices students have to complete a degree/certificate by providing them with a roadmap and additional support structures in order to reduce the time it takes students to complete a degree or certificate.
- Faculty Advising – Conducted by instructional faculty, faculty advisement (FA) is designed to enhance the quality of a student’s college experience through mentorship and increased communication with instructional faculty. Aligned within the schools, faculty advisors help students explore educational and career goals as well as identifying program pathways for a student’s given degree. Counselors led the faculty advisement trainings and each school has two counselors assigned.
- Linking College to Career – One of the ways in which meta majors/schools and guided pathways interconnect with a faculty advisement model is through an exploration of careers that are related to various degrees. The College is increasing opportunities for career exploration, personality assessment, industry partnerships, and earn-and-learn/internships in order to support students’ completion of certificates and degrees. Career resources are linked on the Schools website for students, faculty, and staff to reference.
- Models of Student Care – Lastly, in response to both the research findings, and the voice of its own students, the college is developing more intentional methods of supporting student success and completion, with opportunities for students to mentor and support other students. As of fall 2017, student mentors were hired to support each School and serve as a team member along with counselors and faculty advisors.
Dr. Tenisha James
Guided Pathways Workgroup Co-Chair
Guided Pathways Workgroup Co-Chair