What's the hype about Guided Pathways?

by Rachel Bishop | June 18, 2019
What's the hype about Guided Pathways?

“Guided Pathways” is more than just a higher ed buzzword. In fact, many colleges are implementing this model in their institutions to make the pathway to a postsecondary credential an easy one for students to follow. As of 2018, more than 250 community colleges have taken steps toward providing students with Guided Pathways. So what’s the hype about?

First, let's dive into what Guided Pathways are. The Guided Pathways model consists of four essential practices:

  1. Help students choose their path and begin the journey on it.
  2. Make the path to a postsecondary credential visible and traversable.
  3. Keep students from straying off the path.
  4. Check that students are progressing successfully.

To our current partners, these may sound familiar. That’s because Guided Pathways are built upon the same science that houses the Signal Vine platform: behavioral economics. Guided Pathways exist to help students make good decisions for positive academic outcomes. Signal Vine exists for this very same reason! Through nudging, Signal Vine helps colleges and universities keep their students on track to achieving their academic goals.

The complexity of Guided Pathways

Make no mistake: Guided Pathways take a lot of work on behalf of institutions that wish to implement the model. It entails a complete reformation for many colleges. In some cases, it requires a revision of academic programs. Many colleges allow students to choose which classes they take and which support services they receive. In contrast, colleges with Guided Pathways make those decisions for students. This helps keep students on the path to completion.

Another major change for many colleges is just how involved staff are with students. Normally, campuses house various supports, such as academic services and advisors, for students to reach out to when they’re needed. With Guided Pathways, these services and advisors come to students. The roles reverse, and advisors rather than students become the proactive participants in the relationship.

This may sound overwhelming to campus staff. That’s where nudge technology comes in.

Nudging students toward positive outcomes

The Signal Vine platform enhances the advisor/student relationship. We encourage our partners to use the platform to nudge students toward positive academic outcomes. For example, advisors from colleges with Guided Pathways continuously monitor students’ progress. They know when students miss class and when their grades begin to slip. This is the perfect time for an intervention to keep students on track.

Let’s face it: Students don’t want to be chased down on campus and confronted about why they haven’t attended classes. Sending this question via text, however, is less confrontational while reminding students that they have an involved support system at college. Further, students are more likely to open up about barriers via text than they are in person. It’s a win/win scenario.

Making communicating with students easy

Another great reason to use Signal Vine as a component of a Guided Pathways model is that it makes communicating with students simple. We know that today’s college students are picky about communication. They want personalized, meaningful conversations. Signal Vine takes this demand seriously. In fact, it’s the heart of our platform.

For example, advisors can schedule an automated text to students whose GPAs are drastically dropping. They may use the opportunity to ask students what their barriers are and connect them to resources that can help. Take the below exchange:

Guided Pathways

The automated but personalized message opened up the door for a meaningful conversation to take place between this advisor and her student. By simply checking in, the advisor was able to nudge the student and encourage him to seek tutoring so that his grades would improve. From here, the advisor can schedule a message to follow up with the student and see if tutoring is helping.

Learn more

If your institution follows the Guided Pathway model, we recommend using the comprehensive Signal Vine texting platform to help advisors foster a strong, connected relationship with their students where students operate most. Using texting to nudge students toward their academic goals has proven to be successful, and students can reach out for help simply by reaching for their smartphones. (That is, if they aren’t already in their hands!)

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