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Palomar College Learning For Success


Palomar College Guided Pathways

Completion Academy – Early Framework for Guided Pathways

Palomar held three Completion Academy workshops with students, faculty, staff, and administrators this summer with colleagues from Anthropology, Water Technology, World Languages and more. The Completion Academy workshops provide support for faculty interested in developing schedules and support services that help students complete our degrees and certificates.  Representatives from tutoring, reading, and CALM also attended the workshops to help faculty design programs with support services in mind. Once a discipline develops a program through the Completion Academy, the program can be advertised on the Palomar Makes it Possible website  As part of this marketing effort, Palomar also had a television promotion on KUSI.  Look for more Completion Academy workshops and develop your program in the fall!

Palomar “Wins” June 2019

New Mini Grant:

Palomar College, in partnership with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Foundation, was recently awarded a mini grant to begin Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) work, share lessons learned, participate regionally and implement a BP/AP (Board Policy/Administrative Procedure) by Spring 2020 to be used as a potential BP/AP for other California Community Colleges to use. Palomar will co-host a regional CPL workshop on October 4th with Saddleback College’s Veterans Articulation Track (VCAT) program at the Rancho Bernardo Center where American Council on Education (ACE) will present to discipline Faculty willing to champion CPL and participate in identifying CPL opportunities.

Connecting the Classroom to Careers – June 2019

A Peek Inside Service Learning:

Service Learning provides work-based learning to students who apply course concepts they learn in the classroom to hands-on experiences in San Diego County’s non-profit organizations. Aligned with Guided Pathways, students’ semester-long experiences shape important career decisions in attaining certificates and degrees relevant to their education and career goals.  1 out of 4 service learning students is offered a job and internship at their site by the end of the semester.  Furthermore, research states that students who engage in service learning benefit from increased grade point averages, retention and graduation rates, which supports our approach to achieving student equity.

On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Service Learning awarded four student scholarships at the Service Learning Academic Showcase at Palomar College. Students were nominated by their professor or a community partner for their exceptional service. The student awardees were: Caitlin Bergen (Child Development), Sharon McNeal (Nursing), Joshua Middleton (American Sign Language), and Stephanie Sanchez (Child Development), who contributed their time to the Boys and Girls Club of San Dieguito, Inland Valley Hospital and Scripps Hospital, Palomar College’s deaf community, and Operation Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement (H.O.P.E.) North County. Students expressed deep appreciation for giving back to communities, applying textbook learning at their service sites, as well as gaining valuable work experiences related to their future careers. Each student received a $100 scholarship, certificate, a Service Learning graduation cord and stole. If you would like to learn more about Service Learning, Professor José Briceño and Angela Kong will facilitate a Fall Plenary session focused on integrating Service Learning into the classroom.

The Reality of Meta Major and Program Mapping – June 2019

Meta Major Webinar Takeaway:

The Academic Senate California Community College webinar on The Reality of Meta Major and Program Mapping had representatives from several California Community Colleges discuss their experiences creating meta majors. To view the video presentation  click here.  Below are some takeaways as Palomar too will begin this journey and we will look towards your participation.

Orange Coast College

  • Clarity/simplicity
  • Not “job market vs. transfer” but types of job markets
  • Consider Math requirements
  • GE patterns for local and transfer degrees
  • Simplifying decision-making with the end in mind

What they learned:

  • One size does not fit all students
  • Students are asking for multiple “on-ramps” to pathways
  • Transparency
  • Communicating with the campus early and often
  • Communication strategy that includes all constituent groups
  • Guided Pathways is cross-functional work
  • Discussions with web-redesign team
  • Cross-functional membership on all design teams
  • Input/feedback from all constituencies
  • Don’t rush the process
  • Consider all relevant factors (e.g. mission, ISLO’s, college themes)
  • The continuous-improvement model

Citrus College

Created 7 Career & Academic Pathways - called CAPs

  • AP development was a year-long process, including 3 Student sorting activities, a staff group and a faculty group in Fall 2018, a draft was created from the inquiry groups and vetted in 3 Faculty meetings in Spring 2019.
  • The RP Group took our programs and created their own CAPs based on shared coursework; their results were useful, had a lot of commonality with what we came up with and confirmed our struggles with certain programs.
  • Only piloted 2 CAPs -- Counselor/Articulation Office and Program Review Faculty Coordinator are creating the program course mappings for all AS/AA/ADT programs.
  • Spring 2020: Early Decision students (if part of the pilot CAPs) will be identified as GP students, and served under the GP 4 pillars.
  • Fall 2020: All students who are part of the pilot CAPs will be identified as GP students, and served under the GP 4 pillars.

Southwest College

  • Created a program mapping team
  • Conducted “sorting” activities with students and staff in early spring 2018
  • Developed draft “buckets” in late spring 2018
  • Vetted the draft at our summer 2018 retreat in Palm Springs  - 175 people attended
  • Brought the draft back to full district in September/October 2018 for more vetting- did many presentations for feedback and created a survey
  • They put programs into more than one meta major
  • Rolling everything out in mid-June - we should talk to them after they do it (they are considering t-shirts)
  • Designed website around meta majors
  • Redesigning CCCapply when students apply to decide on major!!!!!

Cabrillo College

  • Spring 2017  - Sorting the meta majors exercise based on major preparation
  • Sorting the Sorts – based on major prep
  • Fall 2017 - draft with meta major drafts – 4 or 6
  • Revision of meta majors based on departmental feedback
  • Survey of students to name the meta majors
  • Survey of faculty for a term other than meta majors
  • Career and Academic Pathways - CAPS
  • Decided on 5 and also have programs in multiple meta majors
  • Now implementing mapper - little frustrated

What is next?

Creating CAP supports and activities to answer Rob Johnson’s question, “How is the student experience different now that you have meta majors?”  

  • Redesigning orientation to feature CAPs  
  • Creating student support teams for each CAP
  • Creating CAP centers where students study and faculty hold office hours
  • Infusing career information into CAP curriculum
  • Designing extracurricular activities that give students career info and experiences

Lessons Learned

  • Cross Functional Teams with Counseling and Instructional Faculty are crucial!
  • Define terms - What’s a meta major? How will it be used?
  • Use Data

Embrace GP as an iterative process -- things will change!

Completion Academy – SUCCESS!

Palomar held its first of two workshops for the Completion Academy. Instructional faculty, counseling faculty, staff and administrators came together to develop creative program schedules with an eye on equity, access, and success. Models included ideas such as a Degree in Three, Child Development’s Four for Four plan, and EME’s Certification in a Semester. The energy in the room was electrifying and everyone wanted to do their part in improving student program completion rates.

Part two of the Completion Academy will be held in the summer with a focus on student success by integrating student support and instructional support into the program schedule. We will also be coordinating schedules with the completion of math, English, and reading in the first year. Workshop date is to be determined, so stay tuned!

The final piece of the Completion Academy includes marketing of the newly created programs with the message “Palomar makes it possible for you to earn a high-quality education and get a jump-start on your career at a price you can afford and a schedule that works for you.” If you have a program that fits this theme, inform your dean by May 30 to have your program included in the messaging. See you this summer for Completion Academy Part Two!

Guided Pathways (GP) Team Visits Florida!

A group of GP Team members traveled to Florida to tour Miami Dade College and Valencia College this past April. They came back with a lot of information to share of best practices for implementing Guided Pathways. The group had the opportunity to meet with campus leaders, faculty, and students at the institutions to learn about the rationale for Guided Pathways, redesign of student services, meta-major organization, and the role of faculty in planning and implementation. Miami Dade College and Valencia College are winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a national recognition for high achievement and performance in student success. The GP Florida team will be presenting on trip findings and what can apply at Palomar. Watch the PD portal for the announcement.

As one team member commented, “Visiting Miami Dade and Valencia College provided us with the opportunity to see into our future, which was VERY exciting!”  Both Miami Dade and Valencia are over 5 years into their Guided Pathways journey and shared several promising practices.

(In photo from left to right: Justin Smiley, Wendy Nelson, Kelly Falcone, Karan Huskey, Hossna Sadat, Nancy Browne, April Cunningham, Chris Sinnott, Anastasia Zavodny, Travis Ritt, Pearl Ly)


Innovative programs and buildings:

As we toured their campus we were immediately impressed with their innovative programs and their buildings, such as their Fashion Design, Culinary Arts, Gaming, IDEA center and CyberSecurity programs.  We kept wondering how they were able to pay for the programs and state-of-the-art facilities. During our visit, we learned that Miami Dade has a grants office with five full-time employees who pursue grant funding to support the development of these innovative programs.  Many of the programs built partnerships with workforce industries which led to internship and job opportunities for students within these programs.

Closing Equity Gaps through Intrusive Student Support:

We were very impressed with the intrusive student support provided throughout the student journey from pre-enrollment, through enrollment, and completion. Miami Dade has also implemented a 3-tiered advising system that included: pre-college advisors (works with HS), first year advisors, and college faculty mentors.  They take a case management approach to student support by assigning students to advisors who proactively and intrusively connect with their students. Their efforts have resulted in an 11% increase in student retention! Valencia College outlined a clear difference between advisor and counselor roles at its campus. Every new student was required to complete the college orientation and to take a college success skills course. Both colleges had a one-stop center for student services and this supported students holistically when it came to accessing and learning about various support services on campus.

Meta Majors

The state of Florida provided both colleges with meta majors. The meta majors were organized around gateway math classes.

Orientations were organized by Meta Majors with the Instructional faculty from disciplines as co-leads to advisors at the orientations. Students who were undecided about their major were provided a “Start Right” guide that helped them understand what classes to take first.  Robust career counseling was discussed and offered throughout the students’ journey. Career counseling assessments provided students who were either undecided or needed confirmation for their academic journey. Having a room with computers and counselors proctoring career self-assessments allowed students to be intrusively guided throughout. Students were then referred to a map based on their meta-major.

Learning, Outcomes, and Research – May 2019

 Learning, Outcomes, and Research

by Michelle Barton and April Cunningham


The Learning Outcomes Subcommittee has created a College Outcomes Assessment Framework to define the three-year cycle on which all of Palomar’s College Outcomes will be assessed.  This Framework is intended to engage faculty and staff in assessment. Instruction and Student Services, in particular, will be able to use the Framework to plan activities and assessments that align with the College Outcomes in each year of the cycle, allowing reflection on and discussion about cross-functional collaborations that can support students’ continued achievement of these outcomes.


Faculty are receiving training about how to load and use shared scoring rubrics in Canvas to facilitate assessment of students’ learning across courses, programs, and the college. The reports of students’ achievement of course, program and college learning outcomes are then being used to inform program review and planning.  In addition, the reports can support cross-disciplinary discussions about goals for student learning, effective approaches and assignments for achieving outcomes, and resources needed to sustain ongoing achievement. Using Canvas to facilitate learning outcomes assessment also makes it possible to identify disproportionate impact using shared metrics established by the state.


Program outcomes are being listed on Degree and Certificate Maps to encourage the sequencing of courses to support students’ achievement of program outcomes. Faculty are working to update the alignment of courses with college learning outcomes.  These alignment efforts make it possible to conduct ongoing assessment of learning outcomes at all levels of the curriculum, from courses to programs to the whole institution, to see how our students’ learning builds throughout their time at Palomar.

Outcomes Co-Coordinators, Katy Farrell and April Cunningham, are creating and reviewing reports of outcomes alignment using Nuventive Improve (née TracDat) to identify areas where additional support might further strengthen alignment of course, program, and college learning outcomes.  And the Co-Coordinators are sharing these reports with Learning Outcomes Facilitators so that updates, revisions, and additions can be made on an ongoing basis to keep outcomes alignments up-to-date.

Institutional Research and Planning is developing a report which will allow faculty to see on average how many units student degree earners complete by program. This will help guide faculty discussions regarding their program maps and scheduling for completion


Lastly, ongoing assessment of students’ learning is not only happening in courses.  The Work Experience Coordinator is working with the Outcomes Co-Coordinators and serving on the Learning Outcomes Subcommittee to establish and assess outcomes achieved through applied and work-based learning opportunities.  Institutional learning outcomes assessments are also being created and deployed to assess co-curricular learning opportunities like Political Economy Days, House of Humanities, and Media and Communication Days, etc.

Image Sources

  • Step 4: Ensure Learning: Palomar Community College District | All Rights Reserved

Instructional Changes – May 2019

Instructional Changes

 by P.J. DeMaris, Jack Kahn, Najib Manea, Wendy Nelson, Travis Ritt


A significant implementation progress has been made integrating Ad Astra with our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).  Ad Astra is now fully integrated with Palomar ERP system that includes the VPN network, PeopleSoft, Email System, Single Sign-On (SSO) service, and hosts a complete Palomar Rooms/Spaces inventory. The on-site training and Design Strategy implementation phase is underway, and it will require a larger collaboration and integration.

The goal is for the Ad Astra Programs of Study/Pathways is to be created using the imported student historical data or managed manually. It will help determine demand for courses during Planner Analysis and Simulated Registration.

Image Sources

  • Step 1: Clarify the Path: Palomar Community College District | All Rights Reserved