Teachers College, Columbia University

Guided Pathways to Careers: Four Dimensions of Structure in Community College Career-Technical Programs

By Michelle Van Noy, Madeline Joy Trimble, Davis Jenkins, Elisabeth A. Barnett & John Wachen

Some have hypothesized that community college programs are not sufficiently structured to support student success and that students would benefit from more highly structured programs. This study examines the specific ways that structure is expressed in policy and practice at representative community colleges.

Using data obtained from interviews and program websites at Washington State community and technical colleges, the authors examine the structure of community college career-technical programs along four dimensions: program prescription, program alignment, access to information, and active advising and support. The authors find high levels of structure on all dimensions in the allied health, computer and information science, and mechanics and repair programs. There are moderate levels of structure in the business and marketing programs.

This article is published in Community College Review, vol. 44, no. 4.