Strengthening Guided Pathways and Career Success by Ensuring Students Are Learning

The Guided Pathways project supported the efforts of institutional participants to strengthen project-based and applied learning experiences and to assess student achievement of learning outcomes.

Strengthening Guided Pathways and Career Success by Ensuring Students Are Learning was a two-year project launched with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ascendium Education Group. Guided Pathways is an integrated framework that supports institutional transformation with student success at the center based upon a structured experience, as articulated in Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success. Guided Pathways builds institutional capacity to define clear and coherent pathways for degree completion and to ensure learning while on the pathways, leading to completion of a postsecondary degree or credential.

The guided pathways framework has four main practice areas:

  1. Mapping pathways to student end goals.
  2. Helping students choose and enter a program pathway.
  3. Keeping students on path.
  4. Ensuring that students are learning.

As the leading national association focused on quality in undergraduate education, AAC&U, in collaboration with the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, worked with twenty community colleges to build institutional capacity and to develop resources that help institutions strengthen their efforts to Ensure Students Are Learning, as part of the Guided Pathways framework for student success.

In 2019, the definition of the fourth pillar of the Guided Pathways framework, Ensure Students Are Learning, was refreshed to include the following core components:

  • Scaled high-quality, program relevant applied learning experiences
  • Intentional and sustained student engagement
  • Evidence-based, high-impact teaching practices across modalities
  • Institution-wide commitment to equity-minded, asset-based teaching improvement
  • Quality assessment of program learning outcomes that lead to credentials, further education, and/or gainful employment

Project goals:

  1. To contribute to the existing research for the ensuring students are learning component of the Guided Pathways framework and a set of professional development tools for institutions to achieve the stated outcomes for measuring success.
  2. To develop an evidenced-based process for examining teaching and learning outcomes within the Guided Pathways framework at the institutional level.
  3. To work collaboratively with faculty to improve learning and quality in pathways programs to help students understand defined credential competencies and the alignment with employability skills and competencies.

Please direct any questions to [email protected].

Project Resources

  • Paths to Success
  • Project Findings Publications
    Project Findings Publications
  • Teaching-Learning-Assessment Framework

Participant List

Through a competitive process, these twenty community colleges were selected to participate in AAC&U’s Strengthening Guided Pathways project

AAC&U Project Staff

  • Tia Brown McNair

    Tia Brown McNair

    Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the TRHT Campus Centers
  • Ashley Finley

    Ashley Finley

    Vice President for Research and Senior Advisor to the President