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Bakersfield College

Lesley Bonds teaches BC employees about Guided Pathways

BC Guided Pathways

Since beginning its Guided Pathways (GP) implementation in 2014, Bakersfield College (BC) has seen universal growth and improvement across virtually every student success metric at the college. To ensure that more students complete and/or transfer—on time and without excess units—BC has intentionally designed an innovative, formal structure through which cross-functional teams of faculty and staff are responsible for advancing four key research-based momentum points. The goals have become our college's mantra and the aligned activities our practice. They include:

  • Attempting 15+ units in the first term
  • Completion of transfer-level math and English in the first year
  • Attempting 30+ units in the first year
  • Completion of 9 core pathway units in the first year

Bakersfield College's GP implementation has required a whole-college effort to redesign existing structures to advance equitable access and completion, which has led to whole-college gains in our GP momentum points.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

Learning and Career Pathway is our term for a "meta-major." Bakersfield College focuses student onboarding and support efforts by organizing students into cohorts by Learning and Career Pathways and Affinity groups. Our ten Learning and Career Pathways represent grouping of programs with similar first semester course requirements.
At Bakersfield College, students are grouped together by meta-major or by membership in an affinity group. An affinity group is a population of students who have specific or equitable needs. Currently, Bakersfield College has eight affinity groups: African American Initiatives, Athletes, Undocumented Students, EOP&S, Foster Youth, Students with Disabilities, Kern Promise, and Veterans. Organizing students into cohorts by Affinity group, enables us, through an equity lens, to engage our work around students who are disproportionately impacted (i.e. EOPS, DSPS, Veterans, etc.).
Bakersfield College has defined four momentum points that help us understand if we have been successful in keeping students on the path toward their educational goals. We strive to increase the number and percentage of students who:
  • Attempt 15 units in the first term
  • Attempt 30 units in the first year
  • Complete transfer-level math and English in the first year
  • Complete 9 core pathway units in the first year
  • The momentum points provided focus and a basis for data-driven discussion
  • The campus-wide bi-annual institutes helped us ensure broad engagement. These institutes focused on our student success data trends over several years (such as average number of units to obtain a degree or certificate, percentages of students who transfer, momentum point data, etc.), student body demographics (how many are first generation college students along with the usual gender/age/ethnic-race breakdowns) and challenges identified by students who were trying to navigate our system.
  • A few key elements that were critical to move from discussion to action:
    1. Leadership that embraces ambiguity, is agile in responding to issues, and open to iterative processes. Distributed leadership model that empowers individuals and committees to innovate.
    2. Refusal to allow the concept of perfection to stifle momentum
    3. Transparency, broad communication, and a commitment to building trust across campus

Organizational Questions

Our formal structure includes the Guided Pathways Implementation Team (GPIT) which works to monitor and advocate for institutional guided pathways priorities. Members of the GPIT represent constituent groups across campus including Academic Senate, the Accreditation & Institutional Quality Committee, Classified Union, Budget Committee, Curriculum Committee, Assessment Committee, and more. Each member of GPIT is responsible for serving as a communication liaison to and from those constituent groups similar to what you might see in a College Council structure. Members are not necessarily the boots-on-the ground folks implementing but instead providing feedback and shaping the direction of the work using a GP lens.
In the initial year of our Guided Pathways Implementation Team (GPIT), we had approximately 35 team members. Since then, we have focused the group to 12 members who each represent specific constituent groups aligned with the six goals defined in our 2018-19 work plan.
  • Bi-annual, campus-wide institutes
  • GPIT members serve as liaisons to campus-wide committees
  • Annual meta-major ("Learning & Career Pathways") data presentations to College Council and GPIT
  • Early development of a Communication Plan
  • Meta-majors assigned to Deans of Instructions responsible for administration and coordination of the activities of each Completion Coaching Community

In addition, the Guided Pathways Implementation Team developed a high-level communication plan which details actions the team members can take on a weekly basis to reinforce important, timely messages. Meta-major and affinity group Completion Coaching Communities may utilize this plan to guide their priorities. The GPIT communication structure complements the broader work of our Department of Marketing and Public relations, which is responsible for BC's internal and external communications. The GPIT communication plan included focused email, posters, flyers, and other media to capture student attention and ensure students are aware of our efforts to improve their learning and achievement. In 2018, GPIT appointed faculty leadership of each Learning & Career Pathway to improve coordination and communication.

Early in our guided pathways development, student voice was essential to gaining campus support and identifying priorities for action. Bakersfield College students participated in focus groups and interviews to offer feedback about the challenges they face as students navigating the higher education terrain at our institution. Students have also been invited to speak at our biannual institutes to share their experiences and recommendations for reform.

Students remain actively involved in our intentionally designed committee structure. Student representatives serve on the KCCD Board of Trustees, District Consultation Council, and campus committees, including Academic senate, College Council, Accreditation and Institutional Quality, Curriculum, and Program Review. Student mentors are also employed to support the Summer Bridge program.

Completion Coaching Communities

Through Bakersfield College's participation in the AACC Pathways Project, the college learned of various models throughout the country designed to support students in entering and staying on path. By utilizing elements of these proven models and conducting an in-depth review of our own best practices supported by data, the college began grouping students into cohorts and assigning dedicated support in spring 2016. Our early cohort work allowed us to identify needs and implement solutions in the development of our meta-major ("Learning and Career Pathway") Completion Coaching Community model, which began at an institutional level in fall 2017.

Counseling and Advising Experts

The primary role of Counselors role of Ed Advisors is to become experts on the coursework, internships, and employment associated with the pathway. While Counselors focus on pillar one and three, working with faculty to clarify program pathways and ensure students remain on path, Ed Advisors focus on pillar two, assisting students enter the path. Counselors and Ed Advisors will:

  • Host outreach within local high schools to onboard new students;
  • Provide educational planning and transfer decisions;
  • Recommend effective course placement;
  • Develop and conduct co-curricular activities, such as workshops and forums, in collaboration with career center, job placement specialists, transfer center, etc.;
  • Work with students flagged for intervention (i.e. probation, SOC, early alert, etc.).
  • Distribute progress reports to faculty each semester;
  • Collect and compile progress report data and disseminate to completion team members.

Data Coach

BC has a cadre of 30+ Data Coaches who utilize data across our momentum points to improve our integrated planning and activities. Data Coaches are faculty, classified staff, and administrators who participate in ongoing training, support campus-wide data projects, and directly support Completion Coaching Communities in their use of cohort-based data to illuminate the needs of students in each Completion Community. Data Coaches will:

  • Assist teams in framing and answering questions with accurate and relevant data;
  • Find and interpret data; act as a liaison between the origin of data and the coaching team;
  • Coordinate data reports for completion teams and aid other coaches in the creation of reports.


The primary role of the Dean in the meta-major Completion Coaching Communities is to coordinate its diverse and multiple functions in a cohesive way. Dean will:

  • Obtain and maintain a thorough knowledge and understanding of the coursework, program requirements, transfer options, and career opportunities;
  • Staff, organize, and assess the effectiveness of pathway completion teams through the use of student success metrics;
  • Identify bottlenecks in enrollment patterns and adapt course scheduling accordingly;
  • Monitor pathway courses to ensure current local and state approval of curriculum;
  • Ensure the assessment of Student Learning Outcomes and Program Level Outcomes;
  • Apply assessment results to provide leadership for continuous quality improvement;
  • Address and resolve systematic barriers to student success within their pathways;
  • Communicate pathway resource needs to the Executive Leadership Team.

Discipline Faculty Experts

The primary role of the Discipline Faculty Expert is to share their discipline and pathway expertise with students. Discipline faculty experts may:

  • Act as a resource for students by becoming experts in the coursework and broader pathway requirements for certificates, degrees, and employment in their pathway;
  • Explore and stay current on student transfer and career options and collaborate with high school outreach efforts;
  • Refer students to relevant support services;
  • Review and promote thoughtful scheduling of courses based on student progression;
  • Report systemic issues to the completion team (and its administrator)

Financial Aid Experts

The primary role of the Financial Aid Expert is to provide tracking and financial aid information to students within the meta-major ("Learning & Career Pathway"). Financial Aid Experts will:

  • Guide students throughout the financial aid process;
  • Provide relevant financial aid updates to the completion teams;
  • Inform students of the impact of financial status and impact of decisions, like withdrawal;
  • Track students within meta-major or affinity group for missing financial aid documentation.

Student Support Experts

The primary role of the Student Support Experts, comprised of library, writing, tutoring and other specialists, is to share expertise and intrusive guidance for support in the academic career. Student Support Experts will:

  • Collaborate with faculty to develop supports tailored to fit specific needs of the pathway;
  • • Develop extensive understanding of the support services and their role with regards to a specific pathway;
  • Monitor student use of support services within specific pathways and suggest improvements and process changes.

Most teams meet bi-weekly for an hour. Some teams meet more frequently, while others have sub-groups focused on a particular event or project that may meet in between the large group meeting. For instance, our Business meta-major has hosted an industry summit, which required more frequent meetings to organize the details. Our Education meta-major pathway has a sub-group that actively pursues grants to advance their work, and they meet in between the large group meetings.

As the administrator, the meta-major dean calls and leads the meeting. Agendas always include a review of the current data around our momentum points and discussion on steps forward or an action plan to address the students not on-path.

Yes. The primary responsibility of the Completion Coaching Communities is to ensure students are reaching our institutional momentum points. However, identification of barriers -- particularly systemic barriers the college has unintentionally created -- has proven important in opening pathways and removing bottlenecks to completion. For instance, the Education meta-major pathway uncovered a scheduling issue with the math course required to earn the Elementary Teacher Education ADT and influenced scheduling almost immediately. Concerns may be passed to the Guided Pathways Implementation Team or onto the dean to address with the administrative team.

We believe Guided Pathways is not about creating something new but instead rethinking how we all go about our day-to-day work to advance student outcomes. Therefore, our guided pathways work is about both intentionally designing formal structures AND intentionally designing operational structures. In other words, we certainly are focused on creating formal structures to reflect this work by hiring and reorganizing (such as our creation of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness) but we find we are able to be agile and responsive to needs through our operational structure that exists to move day-to-day work in our Completion Coaching Communities. It is both the institutional expectation and the institutional culture that we work in a networked structure where we all collectively support the institutional priorities, regardless of formal reporting structures.

In addition to the work of the Guided Pathways Implementation Team (GPIT), our executive leadership team has been clear in their expectation that classified staff and managers participate in the whole-college effort of our Completion Coaching Communities. Each manager submits an annual Work Plan, which details how they will use their 40+ hours/week to advance the work and, as such, how they will empower their direct reports to do the same. For instance, our Director of Financial Aid understands and embraces that each of her Financial Aid Technicians on staff will serve on a team and must therefore be creative in their day-to-day work to ensure they adequately support the institutional goals and departmental tasks.

While there is some overlap in the deans' departmental oversight and their responsibility as administrative leads of the meta-major Completion Coaching Communities; this isn't an exact science. Many deans formally supervise departments that do not actually fall into their meta-major assignment. This is, in part, due to workload distribution. However, in many ways, this truly facilitates the work by enabling the deans to be a part of a team without supervisory dynamics at play. As leads of their Completion Coaching Communities, they're able to be at the table with discipline faculty and other staff as colleagues intent on advancing student outcomes around our momentum points.

Our goal is to work this meta-major ("Learning & Career Pathway") Completion Coaching Community out of a role. In other words, we are consistently working to reduce the number of students enrolling in that meta-major by getting them on a path leading to a degree or certificate that matches their interests and abilities.

From fall 2017 and fall 2018, we massively reduced the number of first time in college (FTIC) students in the Personal & Career Exploration meta-major from 450 to 191, which indicates the students remaining in this meta-major are declaring their programs of study earlier.

Completion Coaches for this meta-major focus on early interventions to help students identify their interests and declare a program of study. The counselor assigned conducts career interest inventories with the students, helps them to enroll in a Summer Bridge, etc.

Faculty Questions

Bakersfield College faculty ensure that instructional content and methods are of the high quality and rigor expected of a higher education institution through a multi-pronged approach:
  1. Professional development workshops
  2. Regular evaluation of faculty by their peers (both full-time and adjunct)
  3. Systematic and regular curriculum design and assessment processes
  4. Annual program review process for all programs

Professional Development Workshops

In their first year of teaching, all new BC faculty participate in the New Faculty Seminar, which gives them many opportunities to share, discuss, and learn about effective teaching practices. Adjunct faculty have targeted professional development as well and are compensated to attend many professional development opportunities available to full-time instructors.

For example, faculty are encouraged and compensated for their participation as mentors in our Summer Bridge program, which is designed to help students enter the path seamlessly. Over 100 faculty participated in the Summer Bridge mentorship program in summer 2018, including all new faculty hires per the expectation set at the time of hire. The Research & Planning (RP) Group conducts the analysis of Summer Bridge on an annual basis. The RP Group has reported they have found faculty feel the Summer Bridge experience has improved their own teaching practices.

Regular Evaluation

Both full-time and adjunct faculty complete evaluation processes.

Curriculum Review Process

The Curriculum Committee reviews every course in a six-year cycle using the systematic curriculum review process described in the Program and Course Approval Handbook from the CCCCO's Division of Academic Affairs. This review ensures that course topics are current, that learning outcomes are relevant and appropriate, and that the methods of instruction and evaluation will enable the students to meet the learning outcomes.

Program Review Process

Our annual Program Review process includes a requirement that faculty chairs look at all courses that make up a program of study to analyze trends. For example, a program of study in economics is made up of only two economics courses and the rest are other disciplines. In the new Program Review format, the faculty chair in economics must report on all courses that make up the program beyond the discipline-specific courses.

Program maps (recommended sequence of courses leading to a degree/certificate) were initially developed by the counseling department to advise students and then were formalized in collaboration with faculty discipline experts as part of our implementation of DegreeWorks several years ago.

Programs were grouped into meta-majors ("Learning & Career Pathways") over several institutes with faculty. The institutes are full-day professional development workshops held right after the end of the spring semester and during our "flex week" training periods, the week before the fall and spring semesters. Faculty grouped programs by identifying those with similar first semester course requirements over three institutes with minor iterations thereafter to keep degree/certificate programs in one meta-major (as much as possible). Faculty participation in the institutes increased significantly with each institute.

Several opportunities for professional development have been provided. First in early stages, this was accomplished through multi full-day campus wide institutes. These institutes were three times per year during "flex week" periods the week prior the fall semester, the week prior to the spring semesters, and the week right after the end of the spring semester.

Additionally, monthly breakfasts were held to check in. Utilizing the breakfasts as an opportunity for faculty and staff to stay connected to what the other teams were doing.

These workshops were also "work times," they were not merely "show and tell." Items such as program mapping or print materials such as brochures were developed during these workshops, whether an institute or a breakfast.

Through Bakersfield College's participation in the AACC Pathways Project, the college learned of various models throughout the country designed to support students in entering and staying on path. We sent a small group of selected individuals, from faculty to administration, to six institutes in various locations across the country. During these institutes, we were challenged to think about our processes.

Early in this process, we provided several opportunities for professional development back on campus once returning from the AACC National institutes. Among some of the early items were:

  • Viewing of First Generation movie and panel discussions;
  • Campus wide reading of Redesigning America's Community College by Bailey, Jaggers, & Jenkins and again panel discussions by chapter;
  • All-campus workshops on student success data.

Initiative fatigue and fear of change were significant challenges in the early guided pathways development at Bakersfield College. Many faculty were particularly concerned that the guided pathways model would create overly constricted pathways that denied students choice and undermined the value of a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Common concerns nationally involve development of meta-majors and program alignment.

Meta-Major Development

Bakersfield College took an all-inclusive approach in the beginning. We decided it was more beneficial to engage in the conversation and allow fluid movement in the development of meta-majors. What did this look like? This meant that there were departments who chose to reside in more than one meta-major, and we allowed it. Allowing this meant a lack of clarity for students and incongruence in our data. However, it also allowed for conversation around program alignment and created a culture of understanding on campus for our meta-majors.

Program Alignment

Program alignment is commonly viewed by many as limiting student options and has been known to be a challenging conversation across the nation during this redesign work. Bakersfield College was not interested in limiting options for students but rather in clarifying options. We took a hard look at our data and determined there were areas we could work on. Whether that meant providing additional academic support or tailoring program offerings to support student success.

Leadership and Engagement

Campus Leadership

Implement of the Guided Pathways at Bakersfield College takes the involvement of many people. Find documents and information about the Implementation Team on their Committee page.

Statewide & National Leadership

Solicitation of Interest - Program Pathways Mapper Pilot

Bakersfield College is interested in partnering with colleges, districts, and/or consortia to scale the Program Pathways Mapper. Express your interest directly by emailing Craig Hayward.


Statewide Work

Date College Presentation Type
August 5 Moreno Valley College On-Site
August 6 Compton College Off-Site;
Presenters: Grace Commiso, Lisa Robles, Jonathan Ward, and Armando Trujillo
October 18 Palomar Community College (PCC)
San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE)
Los Angeles City College (LACC)
Central Valley Higher Education (CVHEC)
Imperial Valley college (IVC)
Grossmont/Cuyamaca Community College District (GCCCD)
College of Sequoias (COS)
California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office (CCCCO)
Agenda: 10-18-2019
Presentation: 10-18-2019
Date College Presentation Type
November 13-14 Santa Ana College On-Site
January 28 College of the Canyons Zoom Meeting
January 30 Sierra College Zoom Meeting
November 15 Citrus College Phone
November 20 Mount San Jacinto College Phone
December 5 Sierra College Phone
December 3 Fresno City College On-Site
December 18 San Diego State University Research Project Phone
January 9 Allan Hancock Phone
January 23 San Diego City College Zoom
January 28 College of the Canyons Zoom
February 6 Allan Hancock College Phone
February 7 Mission College Zoom
February 12-13 Citrus College & Mt. San Jacinto College On-Site
February 26 Allan Hancock College On-Site
March 6 Clovis College Phone
March 13 Clovis College Phone
April 4 Cabrillo College Phone
April 19 San Diego City College Off-Site;
Presenter: Lesley Bonds
April 23 Clovis Community College On-Site
April 25 Compton College Phone
May 15 Compton College Phone
May 15 Foothill College Phone
May 23 El Camino College On-Site
June 23 Compton College Phone


Title Date Audience Presenter
No More Paths to Nowhere: Guided Pathways at Bakersfield College 11/15/2018 Region V Veteran Representatives Meeting Lesley Bonds
Guided Pathways - Policy Meets Practice 9/23/2018 CCC Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy Sonya Christian
Guided Pathways - What's Next? 6/20/2018 eLumenation Annual User Conference Sonya Christian
Guided Pathways - Instructional Lens 6/04/2018 President's Cabinet Liz Rozell
Program Completion at BC: A Data Context 4/20/2018 College Council Lesley Bonds
Equity Within a Guided Pathways Model 4/16/2018 Guided Pathways Implementation Team Julian West
BC Guided Pathways: EOPS Momentum Points & Outcomes 3/14/2018 Guided Pathways Implementation Team & College Council Imelda Simos-Valdez
Guided Pathways: Lessons Learned at Bakersfield College 2/21/2018 ACCCA Annual Conference Sonya Christian

Student Voice

In our implementation of Guided Pathways, student voice has been essential to gaining campus support and identifying priorities for action. In the early stages of our exploration, Bakersfield College hosted book discussions with students through which groups of students read each chapter of Redesigning America's Community Colleges (Bailey, Jaggers, and Jenkins) and shared their thoughts with faculty and staff as a panel.

Bakersfield College also organized focus group interviews to solicit feedback and gain insight about the challenges students face as they navigate the higher education terrain at our institution. Following the focus group, the Guided Pathways Implementation Team organized a series of video interviews with students about their experiences to show at our all-campus Opening Day and in various professional development settings.



Clarify the Path

Enter the Path

Stay on the Path

Ensure Learning