Online Course: Developing Effective Bridge Programs

Update! The Adult Career Pathways online courses are now available on LINCS!

LINCS is adding the opportunity for professional development for its members in the form of a series of optional online courses developed by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s initiative Adult Career Pathways. These online courses are self-paced, freely available, and accessible 24 hours a day through the LINCS Learning Portal. The courses will enable users to work at their own pace, at a time that is most convenient to them.


Online Course: Developing Effective Bridge Programs

Are you a teacher beginning to develop a bridge program for your adult education learners? Developing Effective Bridge Programs can help you develop and implement effective Adult Career Pathways bridge programs designed to help your adult learners master the basic skills they need to advance to the next level of education, training, or entry-level employment in career fields that are in local or regional demand. The course is self-paced and features three modules: (1) Understanding Bridge Programs; (2) Laying the Foundation; and (3) Developing the Curriculum. The modules link to this discussion thread (Title: Online Course: Developing Effective Bridge Programs) within the LINCS Community Career Pathways group to provide opportunities for you to discuss how to apply the course information in your teaching with your colleagues from around the country.


Use this discussion thread to post your responses to questions below from the online course, Developing Effective Bridge Programs. Please share your comments to any of the following questions, or post a general comment or feedback on the course.


  1. Introduce Yourself.
  2. What are the benefits of Western Technical College’s CNC Skills Institute’s approach to addressing the needs of lower-skilled adults who could not access the more traditional certificate programs in CNC offered at Western Technical College? Is there a target population in your community that has been historically underserved and for whom this model might be well suited?
  3. In watching the Bio-Link video, Bridge to Biotech student Jeanette Wright, what characteristics about herself does Jeanette mention that are similar to the adult learners you serve? What has motivated her to persist in the biotech program? What supports does she mention that you could incorporate in your local program?
  4. For a bridge program at your institution, what key elements, if any, would you need to add, omit, or adapt based on your local situation?
  5. After reading the article, “Group Work in the Classroom: Types of Groups”, what are your reflections on your experiences with those techniques as a learner and as an instructor. Why do you think that technique did or did not work? What would you change about the experience?

This online course was developed under the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s Designing Instruction for Career Pathways initiative under Contract No. ED-CFO-10-A-0072/0001, which developed and delivered trainings and online courses to adult education providers in order to increase the quality and quantity of adult career pathways programs.


The new LINCS Learning Portal offers adult educators free online professional development courses from a variety of OVAE initiatives. Join today at:



I am working with an organization in Memphis, TN that caters to ABE. I found the information in the WIOA informative and close related to the techniques I used when teaching college level courses. 

What characteristics about herself does Jeanette mention that
are similar to the adult learners you serve?
They are in a hurry to be more employable, but have no background in math and science.  They need help in math, science, but also vocabulary building.  This is similar to other students that I have had because they need lots of support in multiple areas.  

My name is Kelly Close and I am teacher in the Delaware Prison System.  I am working on developing a bridge program with another teacher to help our students.  

  1. Which key elements does the model contain?

A clear group of audience which is targeted and identified including a previous work history.  In addition, it outlines the types of jobs these students will qualify for once they finish training. The program also has a limited time scale for students so they can finish a session.  The last part of it that is extremely important is an internship piece. 

  1. For a bridge program at your institution, what elements, if any, would you need to add, omit, or adapt based on your local situation? Explain why. Post your response in the Developing Effective Bridge Programs discussion thread.

I think an internship in the Baylor Kitchen with a current CARE program is important, plus academic support as needed.  Students will also need life skills training.

Hello, I am the Literacy Specialist at Arkansas State University Mid-South, and we have a partnership with the Eastern Arkansas Correction Center to offered adult education classes so residents can gain their GED, increase literacy, or for those that are close to releasing they come to campus to receive instruction through lecture, Work Skills, and Essential Education computer courses which prepares them to test so they can receive their Career Readiness Certificate. They also receive training in OASH 10, CPR, and forklift licensure. What kind of Bridge programs does the Delaware system offer? I have the task of increasing the program once the pandemic is over.


My name is Yvette. I work within a job search employment lab and through this lab, I observe a great need in building an effective bridge program within the community college and within the WIOA skills framework scope. As manufacturing businesses fade out, there is a great need for  those who suffer job cuts and layoffs. There is a need for job and skills transitioning. 

I believe the bridge program developed is pretty sound, and covers all of the key elements. However, I find some students who enroll in bridge programs, have no "follow through." Some obtain the financial funds to obtain certificates, yet, when complete or IF the program is completed at all, students do not enter the workplace because of past habits and behaviors, whether personal or academic.
Often times, when bridge programs are created, they are meant for the best intentions. Many bridge.programs are not a "one size fit all" model and should form fit a variety of students. This kind of differentiate instruction is Time consuming and usually doesn't allow for enough training. Fastraxking students would depend on the skills that need to be assesses and improved upon
I think group work works well in the classroom. Often times, group work helps lower any learning anxieties within students as well as students can learn from each other and pose questions that require critical thinking as to where students can help each other think it through. However, there are many students that do not groups because they feel they don't have the skills to act independently.

I think it is a great idea to create bridge programs for lower skilled workers, however, students must be chosen wisely and strategically. As per my experience with lower skilled students, it is a challenge to improve students soft skills set. Many of the under served targeted students lack:positive work ethic; good attitude; desire to learn and be trained; clear communication skills; critical thinking; teamwork; and time management skills. If bridge programs do not work to greatly improve 21st century soft skills, money, time and energy can be wasted due to student lack of soft skills training

I think the key elements were met and can be met through contextualize instruction.However, the program seem to cover all basis. I really like that the program encourages a face to face, no class instruction, meeting on projects and assignments completed.

The college met the needs of the lower skilled students by providing the students with hands on skills and academic support. In the Biotech video a few of the students could never imagine themselves as students let alone a biology student. Many of the students wanted to go further because of the support the college provided them. My institution already has a few bridge programs. The students are carefully sought out as well the support services given. However, sometimes many students who go through these programs are not hire on. 

My college bridge programs has definitely help in improving the local area employer hiring pool. Many of the local citizens are factory workers. During the 2008 recession, many employers laid off hundreds of employees as to where the employees had to be retrained and needed to develop transitional skills. My local college created apprenticeship programs and career pathway courses to help transition the laid off workers. Many of the employees were receiving unemployment and other services during this period and decided to take courses while they claimed unemployment services.

The benefits of the bridge program are extensive. Students can gain job skills to fill in the skills gap earn certificates, and employment.

In my community, the target population are single mothers, displaced workers as well as the ESL and ESOL 

One of the key elements mentioned is the targeted audience. The targeted audience is key in developing bridge programs. It is difficult to force a person into a bridge program simply because they need a "job." The targeted audience should want this industry as a career goal. It is unfair to force students through fastrack programs, complex math classes strenuous critical thinking assignments. Many of the people chosen for these programs may not have the soft skills training needed to complete the program. If they do not posses the skills needed to obtain the entry level employment and suggesting so, could lead the student through many stressful daunting tasks. Often times, these tasks can make the student want to drop out of the program.

For my college, I would add a total online program for students who need to continue working full time and may have childcare issues. Some students wan to complete bridge programs but have a difficulty time keeping up with class assignments. If colleges can make assignments easier for students to complete their program, retention may become improved.


Hello everyone. I am Tommy Maness and I am a part time instructor in the ABE program at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, North Carolina. I am taking the online of the mentioned course as we are working at home through Covid-19 virus. I am finding this course very interesting as many of our students are working so hard to achieve their GED at our college. Here at RCC, we have several in school bridge programs associated with different industries and businesses close by, that are ready and willing to partner up with RCC and the student once they have obtained their GED and are enrolled at RCC. Once they can get there, If the student has the desire, which many do in the desired fields that have Bridge programs, many find a successful and rewarding field for the rest of their lives. This course "Developing Effective Bridge Programs", is showing me many aspects about the program that I didn't already know.