Community College Research Center: Reports on Guided Pathways, Dual Enrollment, and Advising Using Technology

If you are not familiar with the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University do check out their website!

Their resources and reports, which are often summarized in user-friendly briefs, are great sources of research-based practices for informing program design and for grant writing. Hanna Lahr from the center described her work on guided pathways at the minority-serving community college conference in November 2017. A summary of their latest findings on this topic, based on work in 250 community colleges, was released in April 2018, What We Are Learning About Guided Pathways.

This month, the center has released two new reports:



Hi, Sandra -

Thank you for sharing these reports with us.  I was especially interested in the following excerpt from the Redesigning Advising With the Help of Technology

As institutions worked to craft outreach messages, however, questions emerged about appropriate ways to use risk information and address risk with students. Advisors engaged in crafting outreach messages in response to risk data varied in their opinions on what the tone of the messages should be and the extent to which the data should be specifically referenced in the communication. Similarly, institutions struggled to articulate how to discuss risk data with students in one-on-one advising sessions. Advisors noted the need to maintain a personalized tone and use the information

in a way that motivates rather than discourages students. They believed that it was important to share risk data with students, but that it was also important to emphasize that students could alter their predicted trajectory by modifying academic behaviors, and to make students feel supported as they made key changes.                 

Advisors and other key personnel struggled to strike this balance. Institutions in the current study and the field in general would benefit from additional research on effective strategies for using and communicating risk data during advising sessions.

I appreciate the struggle that these three institutions face when dealing with how to balance students’ data with personalized encouragement.  I wonder if you can share any anecdotal stories that shed some light on how staff worked to try and balance the two?  Adult educators, what are your experiences when advising students, and needing to balance data from pre-assessments with narratives of hope, support, and encouragement? 

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

Hi Mike and Friends, 

I teach a developmental English class at a local community college. Each semester, I start the class with: What do you want me to know about you. Usually, students tell me their major, or information about their children, or even something about their pets. I have access to their Compass scores, so I know where they are beginning their educational journey (as far as English / writing skills). 

Using data only narrows your view of the student. It doesn't allow you to see the big picture for the student, their goals are, their histories, their dreams. Relationships are critical. Additionally, we need to understand the data we are using and we need to have an educational plan to present to the student so they know their is a way to get from entering the program to their goal. 

It can be painful for a student to actually 'confront' their academic ability based on testing results - so it is essential in my mind that the student knows their is a pathway to their goal and the resources exist in the program.