Guided pathways, 3.8% increase in year-over-year student retention

educationdive | July 30, 2019

At Pearl River Community College PRCC, Mississippi first and oldest two year academic institution, modernization is playing a key role in helping students reach successful outcomes. Committed to improving student success and spurred by a state mandate, PRCC has combined the latest in higher education technology and evidence-based curriculum reform in the form of guided pathways. In its effort to guide more of its students toward successful outcomes— from degree completion to transfer to updated skills leading to gainful employment—PRCC has streamlined its course offerings into eight plans of study, or “meta-majors.” That has helped narrow down the huge array of courses and majors that can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. There are so many students who don’t know what they want to do,” says Martha Lou Smith, vice president for general education and technology services at PRCC. “Too many of them are not ready to make those kinds of decisions. So instead of saying to them, ‘You have to pick a major right now,’ giving them the pathway option helps them realize, ‘Oh, there are a lot of things I might want to do.’” To help students stay on track, the college strengthened its advising and degree-planning processes—two critical elements of the guided pathways model. To transform those services, PRCC implemented Ellucian Degree Works™, an online degree-planning tool that integrates with the college’s Ellucian Banner® student information system (SIS).

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With that equity-focused ideology underpinning CBL, the environment is ripe to incorporate culturally responsive curriculum. Chris Sturgis, formerly of Competency Works, recently wrote, “There are so many practices that are valuable in culturally responsive education that are either the same or similar enough to make personalized learning become a catalyst for racial equity.”

Spotlight

With that equity-focused ideology underpinning CBL, the environment is ripe to incorporate culturally responsive curriculum. Chris Sturgis, formerly of Competency Works, recently wrote, “There are so many practices that are valuable in culturally responsive education that are either the same or similar enough to make personalized learning become a catalyst for racial equity.”

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