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 attainment of high-quality postsecondary credentials and careers with value in the labor market.
Over the past several years, the concept of guided pathways has spread rapidly through community colleges and four-year institutions in many states and districts. The guided pathways model is based on coherent and easy-to-follow college-level programs of study that are aligned with requirements for success in employment and at the next stage of education. Programs, support services, and instructional approaches are redesigned and re-aligned to help students clarify their goals, choose and enter pathways that will achieve those goals, stay on those pathways, and master knowledge and skills that will enable them to advance in the labor market and successfully pursue further education.
The guided pathways model is built upon three important design principles. First, colleges’ program redesigns must pay attention to the entire student experience, rather than to just one segment of it (such as developmental education or the intake process). Second, a guided pathways redesign is not the next in a long line of discrete reforms, but rather a framework or general model that helps unify a variety of reform elements around the central goal of helping students choose, enter, and complete a program of study aligned with students’ goals for employment and further education. Third, the redesign process starts with student end goals for careers and further education in mind and “backward maps” programs and supports to ensure that students are prepared to thrive in employment and education at the next level.