At the start of Guided Pathways implementation in 2015, Bakersfield College (BC) noted that students were obtaining most of their information about academic requirements from other students and instructional faculty, leaving gaps in their knowledge about getting through and out of their academic programs.
To gather more information about the best ways to support students, Counseling faculty conducted a series of student focus groups from which they learned that there was a lack of connectedness and communication across campus systems. In turn, BC mandated student affairs instruction through which they intentionally connected student affairs staff and faculty to explore and improve how students gather information, and to ensure parity among the information shared from all parties to students.
Through the development of collaborative relationships between counseling and instructional faculty, the student affairs team aimed to clarify academic requirements and advising information, and demonstrate the resources students could access through counseling services. BC leveraged their expanded partnerships to launch a communications campaign to streamline information to students.
In the implementation of Guided Pathways, BC decided to take a team approach to achieve the following Momentum Points:
- Attempting 15+ units in the first term
- Completion of transfer-level math and English in the first year
- Attempting 30+ units in the first year
- Completion of 9 core pathway units in the first year
The key roles and responsibilities of the student affairs faculty and staff included:
- Counselors: faculty; who were assigned to career pathways work and made recommendations for courses. Their key focus is on student retention. More than completing Education Plans, counseling faculty conduct an evaluation of records, prerequisite overrides, handle probation, and teach student development courses.
- Advisors: classified staff; were assigned to provide support to counselors and connect students to faculty. Advisors focus on the onboarding of students, introduction to programs of study, and reviews and modification of comprehensive Ed Plans.
- With GP, BC will be able to clearly define the roles of all student affairs staff to best support the needs of students.
To cover the cost of the GP implementation, BC utilized several funding sources: BC accessed SEAP funds to pay faculty, overtime for counseling faculty, and coaching. Other funds such as SSSP, BSI, grant funds were used to cover other costs. Progressively pursuing grant funding, BC has gone from $2 million to $12 million in funds.
BC used the Guided Pathways Momentum Points to measure the success of their team approach. They established their first GP implementation team which included 35 individuals representing different groups on campus. Support from key constituents on campus such as the Director of Enrollment Services helped the implementation team pull together reports for a cohort of 30 students which provided details about the types of indicators that were important for parties across campus.
With the creation of an automated Data Coach File and the use of Starfish, BC could closely follow student progress for the purpose of intervening and influencing behavior, and define which cohorts of students it made sense to monitor.
The implementation of the guided pathways has changed the face of counseling for Bakersfield College. Some key factors impacting the student experience have been:
Students are getting the information they need:
- Students report receiving more details about their experiences in gathering information from counseling and instructional faculty, and the usefulness of that information.
- Students report obtaining more, needed information about requirements and career pathways.
- Students shared more about their career aspirations beyond college than previously.
Instructional and counseling faculty are collaborating to provide current information:
- Counselors are more informed about course requirements and career pathways, and in turn, continue to foster partnerships with instructional faculty to gather and disseminate important information to students.
- Students are more informed about their course requirements, transfer opportunities, and possible career paths.
BC noted that enrollment has increased 50% in 5 years leading to an expansion of student services. The highest group of students to complete 15 units in the first term increased from 12% in 2015 to 20% in 2018.
In response to this momentum, BC has taken some great strides:
- Increased the number of summer course offerings and added an early spring session to encourage students to complete more units and lessen the impact on STEM courses.
- Expanded sites to reach students in rural communities including a site co-located with UC Bakersfield.
- Hired significantly in Psychology, meeting the great demand for Statistics course offerings.