Advance Completion & Transfer Equity in California Community Colleges


Picture the course catalog as you may have known it as a student yourself: blocks and blocks of text indented to the nth degree, seemingly written in the bare bones of plain text editors and containing enough acronyms and abbreviations to necessitate an accompanying, equally long translation guide.

Poorly designed course catalogs can have very negative consequences if left unchecked, including:

  • Disproportionate enrollment in low-wage programs of studies
  • Inequitable outcomes for various demographic groups
  • Attrition without degree completion & declining rate of on-time graduations
  • Increased costs to students taking non-degree courses

Bakersfield College, a member of the California Community College system, collaborated with Instructure’s Custom Development Services team to build a course catalog visualization system that would offer “Guided Pathways” to students, achieving four key goals. First, easy access for prospective students and adult learners across various locations and devices; second, just-in-time class enrollment guidance; third, a helpful outreach & orientation tool; and fourth, an ability to guide students while social distancing through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Clear, Visual Pathway-based Course Catalogs

Named the Program Pathways Mapper (PPM), this student-focused education product features an innovative, pathway-based visualization of the traditional course catalog. PPM provides clear, term-by-term recommended pathways through programs, allowing students to explore options that have been vetted and approved by counselors and faculty. Students can also easily view connections between college program offerings and career outcomes.

This intuitive, at-a-glance program map displays major, general, and elective courses by term, providing everything students need to make an informed decision about their academic careers. The PPM dynamically connects community college and university program maps so students can easily visualize the complete pathway to their preferred careers. Outcome-oriented maps for Bakersfield College include learning and career pathways for health sciences, business, STEM, agriculture, education, and more. A salary, growth and careers section just above the program map shows students what lies at the end of their educational journey - “from cradle to career.”

Considering future rollout beyond the initial Bakersfield College implementation, schools within the rest of the California Community College system can customize the look and feel to match their unique brand and curriculum. Instructure’s Custom Development Services team remains an integral part of the growth of PPM, conducting program management services as schools onboard the tool to create their own program maps.

Program Pathways Mapper Results on Student Success

Counselors and advisors use the Program Pathways Mapper to spark interest, explain programs, and as a foundation for developing students’ personalized educational plans. The PPM served over 42,000 unique users within the first year of operation. On average, each user spent over three minutes on the site visiting an average of six pages. 

One year later, unique users increased to 49,500, spent more time on the site, over five minutes, and viewed over ten pages per session. More outcome-oriented results also came in: during the first and second year post-implementation, student on-path percentage for the 20 largest programs at Bakersfield College increased from 65% to 78%. The difference in the on-path percentage of PMM users versus non-users is stark: users are 18 percentage points more likely to be on-path than non-users. In the 2021-2022 school year, Bakersfield College’s Program Pathways Mapper pages received 1.39 million views.

The PPM has also improved equitable outcomes within different student demographic groups. Black and Latinx groups had previously experienced on-path rates three percentage points and eight percentage points lower than white students. Post-PPM implementation, white students increased their on-path percentage by 11 percentage points, Black students by 15 percentage points, and Latinx students by 18 percentage points. Now all three groups are only one percentage point from the mean on-path percentage of 81%.

Creating Your Own Custom Software

We can work with your organization to extend Canvas LMS functionality, establish integrations, get advanced reporting, and access consultation services to help aid your development teams doing the same. We also work outside of the Instructure Learning Platform, creating standalone educational software.

Learn more about Instructure’s Custom Development Services and engage with us to create your own custom software solutions. 

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