In 2015, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) announced the AACC Pathways Project, a national initiative designed to support a cohort of community colleges to implement and scale whole-college guided pathways reforms. Thirty community colleges from 17 states were selected for the project and embraced the challenge of redesigning the student experience at scale. Over the course of the project, which ended in spring 2022, the participating colleges focused on implementing and scaling practices within the four practice areas of the guided pathways framework: (1) mapping pathways to students’ end goals, (2) helping students choose and enter a program, (3) keeping students on a path, and (4) ensuring that students are learning.
Leaders who were involved in planning, overseeing, or coordinating guided pathways reforms at these colleges were interviewed about their experiences in the spring and summer of 2022. Much of what they described concerned: (1) how to facilitate commitment to and engagement in implementing whole-college reforms at the start of the work and (2) how to sustain momentum in the work over several years. Fostering a sense of urgency, creating cross-functional planning and implementation teams, and developing and supporting reform leaders across all levels of the college emerged as critical aspects of the change management process during the interview sessions. Based on their own experiences, the advice these leaders offer—described in this brief—provides a useful way to think about critical elements of the change management process for implementing guided pathways reforms.
Based on interview, self-assessment, and performance data, a companion report describes what the AACC Pathways colleges have learned and accomplished in terms of guided pathways adoption.