How Two Colleges Brought Learning Community Practices to Guided Pathways Redesign

20 Oct 2020

This year’s Strengthening Student Success Conference is unrolling virtually each Friday in October. The conference underscores the continuing equity imperative for redesign. CLP and LearningWorks are partnering with 3CSN and the RP Group to organize the annual conference.

In one of CLP’s breakout sessions, Guided Pathways and Learning Communities – How Hearing Student Voice Changed the Way We Work, Jenny Simon from El Camino College (ECC) and Nora Zepeda from East Los Angeles College (ELAC) teamed up with CLP senior director Naomi Castro to tell the story of how student focus groups changed their guided pathways work.

ELAC and ECC had partnered with CLP to do an inquiry dive into how the success of learning communities might inform their guided pathways work. They also wanted to learn how to conduct their own student focus groups. So they combined these strands of work by conducting student focus groups with an anchoring research question to guide their inquiry, “Are there successful strategies in learning communities for meeting student needs that may inform a Guided Pathways framework?” After training with CLP, each college conducted focus groups with learning community students from Puente and First Year Experience, and with students from the general population.

In the presentation, they shared a number of findings from the focus groups. Notably, learning community students reported more positive experiences with counseling and relied more on college-specific supports in making educational decisions. Students in both groups stated that work-based learning experiences would be most helpful in choosing a major. And students reported that both academic and personal interests drove their educational decisions, but family and giving back to the community were also important factors.

View the presentation on Guided Pathways and Learning Communities: How Hearing Student Voice Changed the Way We Work.

Sessions on Student Supports, Dual Enrollment, and Equity in Program Enrollments

Other breakout sessions presented by CLP covered a range of topics. Scroll down for links to additional presentations and materials.

Student Supports: Innovation and Action for Virtual Support. This session, held on October 2 and repeated on October 16, highlighted rapid innovations and actions taken by a few California community colleges to support students virtually. Panelists included Val Martinez Garcia of West Hills College Lemoore, Amy Nevarez of Chaffey College, and Jenna Gausman of Santa Monica College. Moderated by CLP senior director Luis Chavez, the discussion covered persistent challenges in providing student support services and promising practices that are being implemented at colleges. View presentation PDF.

Problem Solving: Moving Dual Enrollment Online. How do we create collaborative spaces online? How do we move past the crisis mode of going remote to creating digital spaces that foster community and support our work? Dual enrollment practitioners Carla Yorke of Cerritos College and Matt Morin of Chaffey College, along with CLP senior director Naomi Castro, reflected on what was accomplished through CLP’s series of dual enrollment problem-solving webinars that began last March as California shut down. From crowdsourcing challenges and issues to sharing approaches and practices, these webinars reduced feelings of isolation among participants. The webinars, plus the ongoing, virtual community of practice on Basecamp helped practitioners connect with each other and move beyond problem solving to the creation and sharing of resources.

Breakfast with a Thought Leader. Linda Collins, Founder and Executive Director of CLP and LearningWorks, led a morning discussion session focused on equity in program enrollment and completion. Participants reflected on the consistent research findings that Black and Latinx students are underrepresented and white students are overrepresented in certificate and degree programs leading to higher wage careers. Participants considered the extent to which student program majors could be predicted by race and gender, and how they could interrupt this manifestation of structural racism on their campuses.

Coming up on October 30, 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.– Integrated Student Support in a Guided Pathways College. This session will provide participants with an introduction to Career Ladders Project’s new online tool developed to support colleges as they redesign student services to be more integrated to the student experience. The Integrated Student Supports Design Guide provides users with an overview of emerging best practices in redesigning student services, three to four college examples for each topical area, and a guide to getting started on their own campus that includes recommended data points to examine, inquiry questions to explore in teams, and sample activities that use a design thinking approach. Single-day SSSC conference rates are still available. Register now.