This article is a summary of the results of an Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) statewide survey on collegial consultation during guided pathways implementation and provides important information on where professional development may be needed to ensure broad based faculty participation.  This aspect of participation in establishing a guided pathways framework is well-suited to California: California Education Code §70902(b)(7) mandates that governing boards shall establish procedures to “ensure the right of academic senates to assume the primary responsibility for making recommendations in the areas of curriculum and academic standards.” Such procedures are detailed in California Code of Regulations Title 5 §§53200 and 53203, requiring local governing boards to consult collegially with their local academic senates on all academic and professional matters. Since most academic and professional matters have direct bearing on guided pathways, collegial consultation is essential for guided pathways implementation.
The ASCCC, in its Fall 2017 Resolution 17.02, “[affirmed] the right of local academic senates and academic senate leaders to play central roles in the development of all elements of a guided pathways framework at their college that are relevant to academic and professional matters.” In that same resolution, the ASCCC resolved to “support local senates with information and resources to help faculty understand their role in developing guided pathways frameworks and the reforms that grow from those frameworks.” Fall 2019 ASCCC Resolution 13.01 “[asserted] that guided pathways efforts such as course mapping and meta major design are integral to implementing a guided pathways framework and fall within academic and professional matters” and resolved to “conduct a survey to evaluate the extent to which collegial consultation has been used to implement the areas of guided pathways that fall within academic and professional matters and use the results of the survey to create professional development training on Governance and Guided Pathways implementation to meet identified needs.”
During spring 2020, the ASCCC surveyed academic senate presidents, guided pathways liaisons, and other attendees of the April 23 webinar on “Governance in Guided Pathways Planning and Implementation: Before, During, and After an Emergency Situation.” A total of 152 people from 84 colleges participated, of which 29 respondents were academic senate presidents, 42 guided pathways liaisons, 15 senators, 15 other senate officers, and 51 with other roles. A post survey analysis found that each of the four ASCCC geographic areas accounted for 20% to 30% of the respondents. Not all respondents answered each survey question.
The first question used a new survey element with a sliding scale and asked, “If zero is no implementation and 10 is your ideal implementation, where would you score your college’s current implementation of Guided Pathways?” Of the 126 respondents, 56% placed the slider at 5 or higher and 23% indicated zero. The zeroes may be an artifact of the survey instrument.
More pointedly, the survey asked questions about the role of the academic senate in the course mapping process and received 106 responses. The majority used academic senate action for course mapping, and the next highest response brought mapping to the academic senate for information. Very few colleges acted on course mapping without involving their academic senates.
Fewer colleges have embarked on determining metamajors, and the 102 responses indicated, again, that the majority of responding colleges—49 responses—made this an academic senate action item, with the next highest response—30 responses—providing meta majors as an academic senate information item.
Roughly 5% of respondents to each question indicated that the process was not brought to the local academic senate, indicating an area where more professional development may be needed. To promote widespread engagement in guided pathways implementation, the ASCCC suggests that colleges clearly indicate governance processes in validating new structural changes, document these structures, and finally embed key elements into their professional development planning.
Survey participants were also asked, “In light of academic senate purview, how is your local academic senate involved in establishing processes for evaluating and addressing equity and achievement gaps?” Sixteen percent of respondents answered that their academic senates were not at all involved in evaluating and addressing equity and achievement gaps.
To determine how survey participants believed their local academic senates were ensuring collegial consultation and effective participation, the survey asked about senate involvement in processes around guided pathways design and implementation. The 7% of respondents that indicated no involvement again indicates an area where professional development through ASCCC resources, technical visits, webinars and direct help at info [at] asccc.org may benefit the college.
Lastly, participants surveyed were asked to select professional development topics that would improve senate leadership in guided pathways. The group with the most responses, guided pathways liaisons, selected program review and guided pathways (71%), comprehensive, relevant, and meaningful data (68%), career connections for students (64%), and equity considerations (61%). Notably, more than 50% of the academic senate groups—academic senate presidents, senators, and other senate officers—selected governance and guided pathways. Wrap-around student support services was also selected by 50% or more of guided pathways liaisons, senators, and other senate officers.
This survey revealed useful focal points to inform professional development offerings by the ASCCC. The strong preference for professional development on comprehensive, relevant, and meaningful data, equity considerations, and wrap-around student support services demonstrates that faculty want to make sure that their colleges’ guided pathways efforts will make a difference in removing the barriers that may discourage students during the students’ journey, particularly for disproportionately impacted students. Preferences for professional development on program review and governance indicate an understanding of the role of faculty leaders in redesigning institutional practices and for sustainability. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the appetite for professional development on equity considerations points to a desire for more active engagement in creating equitable educational opportunities to meet the needs and improve the success of all students within the diverse California Community Colleges system.