Guided Pathways speaker offers solutions to low graduation rates

Dr. Rob Johnstone, founder of the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement, giving a presentation on Guided Pathways on June 30, 2017 at the State University of New York.

His animated, full voice carried the audience. His hawaiianprint buttondown shirt and frequent puns made policy easier to listen to.

“This is not a story about graphs or charts,” he said. “This is a story about students. This is a story of a college changing itself.”

Founder and president of the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement Dr. Rob Johnstone spoke in Foster Auditorium on Feb. 13 about the goals and proven successes of Guided Pathways.

Although the audience was mostly faculty, the conversation was about students. Johnstone focused on the low success rates of student minority groups, from part-time students to students of color. Johnstone said providing students with pre-scheduled course maps has proved to increase graduation and retention rates, but would require a mindset change.

Johnstone presented a slideshow that demonstrated the faults in our current “cafeteria model” course selection system. He said the problems all point back to one thing: students don’t know what to take and when.

He said sometimes students schedule a course that the college drops unexpectedly. He said students also unknowingly register for classes that don’t count for their major.

Many times, Johnstone said, colleges expect students to prioritize their education when their schedules are worlds away from doing that.

“There’s this myth that students like wandering around to find what they want,” Johnstone said. He said changing the model would simply help students find what they want earlier on in the process.

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