Field Notes Tool Offers Entry Point for Guided Pathways Discussion

For some colleges, the hardest thing about broaching the bigger concepts around Guided Pathways is finding a place to start.

With so many facets, the first step to getting one’s head around Guided Pathways goals, strategies, stakeholders, and more, is often to dip in a toe. That’s where Guided Pathways Field Notes comes in.

Field Notes is a collection of activities and prompts, published by California Community Colleges and its partners, that acts as a sort of “icebreaker” for on-campus Guided Pathways discussions. The document, meant as a “living, breathing” hub for peer-devised activities in service of Guided Pathways, was presented as part of the inaugural content making up the recently debuted Vision Resource Center.

“Field Notes makes the work of our colleges’ efforts visible and a shared experience,” said Misty Burruel, Faculty Senate president at Chaffey College and lead coordinator on the Field Notes project. “[They’re] resources that challenge us to think through the individual and collective challenges and opportunities to move and scale the work on our campuses.”

The Field Notes tool takes a practical approach, encouraging engagement and exploration around concepts like Goals and Barriers, the Student Experience, Engagement Strategies and more. Guided Pathways leaders at the individual colleges are encouraged to work together to brainstorm, complete worksheets, review peer materials and participate in a variety of exercises intended to spark discussion.

“We hope that colleges will not only use the activities, but alter them for their own purposes, create their own, and then upload back into the Vision Resource Center where other colleges can use them too,” said Rob Rundquist, senior executive for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Guided Pathways project.

By engaging with high-level concepts through interactive exercises, colleges can take a more material approach to Guided Pathways implementation, using organic discussion to identify areas of change, solicit input from critical stakeholder groups, and devise solutions. One of the activities suggested by Field Notes involves developing an inspiring tagline for individual Guided Pathways efforts, incorporating key attributes into a short phrase that serves to “brand” the effort. This exercise compels participants to think about the “power concepts” that might facilitate cleaner communication of Guided Pathways projects.

With 115 colleges, all facing different challenges at different stages of Guided Pathways implementation, the struggle is in providing useful content that crosses these barriers. Field Notes takes a collaborative, occasionally quirky approach which encourages high-level abstract thought leading organically to specific solutions.

“It’s about promoting a culture of flexibility,” says Rundquist. “There is nothing ‘one-size-fits-all’ about any of this, and Field Notes is designed in that spirit.”

Adds Burruel: “Field Notes foster a sharing community where learning is a collective endeavor.”

The latest version of the Field Notes tool is available in PDF format through the Vision Resource Center. College Guided Pathways leaders are encouraged to “take what you like, leave what may not work for you and your peers” and to actively participate in the honing and development of further Field Notes editions.

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April 23, 2019

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