Pathways Project Overview

In Fall 2017, Coconino Community College began implementing the concepts developed by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). According to a document titled, “What is the ‘Pathways Model?’” published on AACC’s website,


The Pathways Model is an integrated, institution-wide approach to student success based on intentionally designed, clear, coherent and structured educational experiences, informed by available evidence, that guide each student effectively and efficiently from her/his point of entry through to attainment of high-quality post-secondary credentials and careers with value in the labor market.


Central to the pathways model are clear, educationally coherent program maps— which include specific course sequences, progress milestones, and program learning outcomes—that are aligned to what will be expected of students upon program completion in the workforce and in education at the next level in a given field. Students are helped from the start to explore academic and career options, choose a program of study, and develop a plan based on the program maps. These plans simplify student decision-making, and they enable colleges to provide predictable schedules, frequent feedback, and targeted support as needed to help students stay on track and complete their programs more efficiently. They also facilitate efforts by faculty to ensure that students are building the skills across their programs that they will need to succeed in employment and further education (AACC, 2018).


There are three essential components of the Pathways efforts at CCC:

1. Structured Pathway – This refers to a sequence of courses, important milestones (such as meeting with an advisor, participating in an internship, or preparing a resume or transfer application), and defined program outcomes for a degree or certificate. Once a student has selected a degree or certificate, the defined pathway guides her/him to a timely completion. A sample structured pathway for Computer Information Systems is attached along with a reverse transfer map from Administration of Justice.


2. Choice Architecture – In order to embark on a structured pathway, a student has to make a series of choices about their area of interest, what they will study within that area of interest, and what they will eventually do with their credential (career and/or additional schooling). Some students arrive with clear answers to all of these questions, while others are still in the process of choosing. A choice architecture directs students’ attention to the next important choice they need to make and gives them the tools needed to make an informed choice as outlined in the table below.


Current StateNext ChoiceAssistance Provided
“Don’t know why I am in college” Choose an area of interest Personal inventory, including personality and career exploration
“Know generally what I am interested in but not sure what I want to do” Choose a destination – direct to work or transfer for additional education Career counseling
“Know what I want to do but not sure exactly what to study” Choose a program of study Academic advising
“Know exactly what to study but not sure where to go after graduation” Choose a career or transfer destination Career counseling and transfer advising
“Know exactly what to study and where I am going once I finish” Enroll continuously Retention


3. Area of Interest – A grouping of similar structured pathways. If a student has identified an area of interest but has not yet selected a structured pathway, s/he will be directed to begin by taking a set of courses that will apply broadly to the pathways within that area of interest. Eight areas of interest have been defined at CCC:  Art & Humanities; Engineering, Math & Science; Business & Hospitality; Computer & Visual Technology; Education & Social Sciences; Health; Public Safety; and Skilled Trades