A Practitioner Perspective on Implementing Guided Pathways at California Community Colleges

Kenneth Hargreaves, University of Pennsylvania


The U.S. college-going population has diversified significantly in the past five decades. That fact, combined with a large community college capacity, an increased need for highly skilled workers, and the knowledge that higher education means social and economic mobility, makes improving student success at community colleges essential. All 116 California community colleges and several hundred more around the United States have begun implementation of Guided Pathways, a framework that may facilitate the necessary meaningful change. This is a qualitative multi-case study of four California community colleges that have been highly successful at implementing Guided Pathways. Using the conceptual framework of street-level bureaucracy and informed by implementation theory, the sources of evidence include semi-structured interviews of staff, faculty, and administrators directly involved in implementation and select campus documents. The findings revealed that having a vision for change, an open and collaborative campus culture, and good relationships throughout all levels of the organization are essential. Successful practitioners were inclusive, used data and small working groups to accomplish the tasks, included the student voice, and adapted the Guided Pathways framework to their culture to achieve the desired results. The people doing the work were the most important factor in success, but because Guided Pathways touches all aspects of the campus, focusing efforts on benefitting students and aligning the process with campus culture was also important.

Subject Area

Higher education|Community college education|Educational psychology|Instructional Design|Educational evaluation

Recommended Citation

Hargreaves, Kenneth, "A Practitioner Perspective on Implementing Guided Pathways at California Community Colleges" (2022). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI29210399.