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Palomar College Learning For Success


Palomar College Guided Pathways

New Guided Pathways Taskforce

A new guided pathways taskforce was added to the governance structure during the fall. The taskforce includes faculty, administrators, classified staff, and a student. The taskforce will provide guidance for the Guided Pathways (GP) Pillar Leads. For more information about the taskforce and to find the minutes visit the GP website.

December – Guided Pathways transition meeting. Members of the new taskforce and the previous guided pathways committee met to discuss the transition and plans for the upcoming year. 

January Guided Pathways Institute. Discussed why guided pathways is needed. The group also met in specific pillar groups to review and receive guidance on important tasks.  

February – Regular meeting. Discussed Credit for Prior Learning, spring/summer priorities and research opportunities. 

Meet the 20/21 GP Pillar Leads

Wendy Nelson - Pillar 1
(Clarify the Path)

Alex Cuatok - Pillar 2
(Enter the Path)

Glyn Bongolan - Pillar 3
(Stay on the Path)

Sabrina Santiago - Pillar 4
(Ensure Learning)

Non-Instructional Partners

Pillar 1:
Dr. Nancy Browne, Manager
Student Success & Engagement

Pillar 2:
Steven Salter, Director

Pillar 3:
Leslie Salas, Dean
Counseling Services

Pillar 4:

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  • Sabrina.Santiago.pic: Palomar Community College District

New Student Tools

Palomar College is offering new tools to help students clarify and stay on the path. Below you will find information about the Palomar Pathways Mapper, Starfish Degree Planner, and Starfish Early Alert.

Palomar Pathway Mapper

by Wendy Nelson

Palomar College launched the Palomar Pathways Mapper in June.  The user-friendly site begins with seven “meta-majors,” designed to help students narrow down their choices.  Each grouping leads to a menu of degrees and certificates. Once a student selects one of these options, they will find a variety of useful information that will help them reach their desired goal.  

Each pathway page provides an overview of the field:  

  • overview of the degree or certificate 
  • “learning outcomes” students can expect to achieve  
  • a range of salaries in related careers 
  • an industry growth outlook  
  • an easy-to-read, term-by-term course schedule 

There are several links to Palomar Pathways on the college website so students and community members can learn about the degrees and certificates available at the College. 

Counselors are also using the tool while working with students during counseling appointments. According to Associate Professor/Counselor, Karan Huskey, a cybersecurity student told her, “I have attended several local colleges, and this is the first time I really understand how a degree works.” Another student said, “I love the way this is hands on, and if I need to change a course from my educational plan, I feel like I’m more comfortable selecting my classes now.” 

The Palomar Pathways mapper will be updated annually to reflect new degrees and certificates.  The College is also working with CSUSM to improve transfer and graduation rates using the mapper tool. Students interested in starting at Palomar College and then transferring to CSUSM will soon be able to see a map of all four years - the first two at Palomar and the second two at CSUSM.  

Pathway Mapper - Palomar website view

Starfish Degree Planner

by Bethany Contreras

Starfish Degree Planner is an interactive tool that helps students be more proactive with their course planning. Coupled with meeting with a counselor, students can use Degree Planner to create a customized education plan based on their program selection, scheduling needs, and prior learning experiences if applicable. Starfish Degree Planner supports the Guided Pathways by helping students create a clear plan, make well-informed decisions, and provide Palomar College with valuable insights. To date, approximately 130 students have used Degree Planner. 

Sample view - Student degree plan

Starfish Early Alert

by Cindy Anfinson, Nancy Browne, and Kineta Rios 

Starfish Early Alert continues to expand usage and alerts in the fall 2020 semester. Until this semester, the Progress Survey feature has only been available for the 16-week full semester classes. It has been expanded in fall 2020 to include FT1, FT2, and the four-week classes. In response to the pandemic, several new alerts were added to address student technology concerns and textbook assistance needs. Faculty can use those alerts to direct students towards campus resources. When faculty raise an alert, student services staff are calling students and notifying faculty that the student was directly contacted. We call this closing the loop. 

The Starfish Early Alert website has been updated so the landing page is student focused. The faculty training PowerPoint is also available on the website, so faculty have access to the materials at all time. Regular trainings offered through Professional Development continue to be offered and the material is updated every semester.  

Students now have access to the Student Dashboard in Starfish. As part of our Pathway Navigation Grant, a Palomar Pathways Questionnaire was deployed last spring to strengthen new student onboarding. In the future, when a student completes a simple questionnaire on Starfish, student and academic support departments could reach out to them with information about services they are eligible for. There are also plans to test a new feature that will allow students to raise their hand, or ask for help, using Starfish. 

Starfish Early Alert Usage Data

Starfish Usage Data

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Spring Plenary – Thursday, January 23, 2020

“Explore the Possibilities” at this year’s Spring Plenary and register by January 17th!  Visit the following link for workshop and registration details: You will not want to miss the keynote speaker, Eugene Whitlock, J.D.  His unique blend of humor, neuroscience and data-driven analysis to help primarily administrators, faculty, staff and students at all levels of education in both the private and public sectors to create and sustain inclusive workplaces and classrooms.

Active Learning Leaders Conference – Saturday January 25th, 8:30am-3:30pm!

The 7th Annual Active Learning Leaders (ALL) Teaching Conference is scheduled for Saturday January 25th, 2020, at Palomar College’s new Rancho Bernardo Campus, specially equipped with active learning furniture in all of its classrooms.

This conference is hosted by the Active Learning Leaders (ALL), which is a group of faculty dedicated to increasing student engagement and success through the use of active learning strategies in their classrooms.  Follow the link for registration and program details at

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

Dr. Mark Hudelson, Associate Professor, Art, submitted this comment on a recent Program Review and Planning report which supports Guided Pathways: “One of the questions we have is related to students' desired outcomes. We serve a wide variety of students in the Art Department: some are taking classes to transfer, some for our programs' degrees, some for workplace knowledge, and some for personal enrichment. Thus, why students are in our programs is an important variable. That students learn the material presented in our classes is known, since success rates are high. However, how we fine-tune our programs may shift as there are corresponding shifts in our students' needs and THEIR desired outcomes. Being able to gauge students' needs, as related to their educational goals, is an important metric. More than some other departments, we are able to engage with our students, especially in our studio classes where instructor/student ratios are lower and interaction is common. Through these engagements, we're able to learn a lot about our students' needs in ways that standardized assessments don't capture.”

Palomar Pathway “Wins” – January 2020

New Grant –  Strong Workforce Program (SWP) – Student Retention Faculty Institute

Exciting news from Career, Technical & Extended Education Division which received approval of a new grant that will help fund the SWP Student Retention Faculty Institute. The Institute supports the examination of student retention, persistence and completion in the region’s community colleges. The funding covers a two-year period, in which faculty will participate in two in-person learning events, a faculty project, and a research investment to support the work at each college. One such learning event will be sponsored by the San Diego-Imperial Regional Consortium – Rethinking the Student Experience for Retention and Success. The purpose of this event will be to inspire faculty to 1) think critically about their courses in terms of retention, persistence and success outcomes; 2) examine course data with researchers to better understand current outcomes; and 3) use that information to develop promising solutions in the classroom that improves outcomes. The kick off will be on February 28, 2020.

New Self-placement Process in ESL

This academic year 2019-2020, the ESL Department designed and began administering a new self-placement process.  As of Spring 2020 registration, ESL students are able to move through a guided self-placement process that helps them select the ESL course that will be best for their success.  Additionally, this Fall, the highest ESL levels, ESL 103 and 106, were approved for IGETC Humanities units, so students taking those courses now receive GE credit. The new placement process and the GE credit change in ESL shortens and clarifies the pathways for ESL students through ESL and into their career and academic pathways. Thank you Tracy Fung and Nimoli Madan for sharing!

Design and Manufacturing Technologies – developing a new partnership!

The hiring management team for the CAD Product Definition departments at Sandia National Laboratories California campus in the  San Francisco Bay Area visited Palomar College’s Drafting Technology Department in December. The 3D modeling and electrical CAD products at Sandia Labs support the US Nuclear Stockpile Modernization programs and Nuclear Deterrence Mission Space. The purpose for their visit was to investigate and negotiate potential internships and employment opportunities for students in the Electrical CAD (E-CAD) and Mechanical CAD (M-CAD) programs at Sandia Labs. The team  met with only three community colleges in California based on course and AS degree availability in Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Layout and Creo software. They were very impressed with the proposed Fall 2020 rollout of new drafting courses, certificates, and AS degrees at Palomar College. Sandia Labs intends to participate in the Spring 2020 Career Fair at Palomar College to introduce themselves to students and share information about Sandia Labs with potential hires.

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  • Step 3: Stay on the Path: Palomar Community College District | All Rights Reserved

Faculty from both Palomar College and CSUSM continue linking efforts

Step 3: Stay on the Path

Thursday, Nov. 14, 40 STEM faculty and staff from CSUSM and Palomar College met for the STEM Communities of Practice meeting, held at CSUSM's Faculty Center.  At this meeting both college faculty members from Mathematics, Computer Science, Biology, Physics, Engineering, Counseling, and Chemistry met to discuss course alignment, pedagogy, and strategies for creating a “soft landing” for students transferring from Palomar College to CSUSM in STEM.  Sponsored by the jointly held Title V/STEM Grant, this is the 4th meeting held between the two institutions.  The next meeting will tentatively be held at Palomar College  on Friday, March 13, 2020.

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  • Step 3: Stay on the Path: Palomar Community College District | All Rights Reserved

Palomar College and CSUSM collaborate for Student Success!

Help Students Choose and Enter their Pathway

Step 2: Enter the Path

Monday, Nov. 4, 35 students from Palomar’s Puente and Umoja programs attended a STEM Information session, along with Karmi Minor-Flores (UMOJA Counselor) and Michael Lundell (English Professor for Puente).  This event was hosted by faculty and staff from both Palomar College and CSUSM, with support by the Title V/STEM grant. This collaboration continues to grow, and participants look forward to more joint work to help students be better prepared to succeed.  

The day’s activities included the students having pizza, receiving swag (staplers and pencils provided by Student Equity), and listening to presentations by:

  1. Dr. Richard Armenta, Assistant Professor in Kinesiology with a focus on Health Science and Public Health.
  2. Joshua Love, Math Center Tutor and Palomar Math Club President.
  3. Roberto Leon-Baxin, former Palomar College STEM Center tutor and SI leader, now majoring in Biochemistry at CSUSM and President of the student chapter of the American Chemical Society at CSUSM.

 The students then toured the Math Center and the STEM Center, and finished up with a drone demonstration by Mark Bealo. 

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  • Step 2: Enter the Path: Palomar Community College District | All Rights Reserved