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Areas of Interest and Program Roadmaps

July 22, 2019

The new American River College website has two exciting new features: Areas of Interest and Program Roadmaps. These two features are both designed to help students identify a program of study and then find a clear pathway to completion.

Areas of interest are groups of related programs of study organized into themes, to help students find a major that interests them. ARC has nine areas of interest.

Program roadmaps show full-time and part-time students which classes to take, in which order, to complete a degree or certificate in a timely manner.  Maps for degrees include suggested general education and elective courses that can be changed to meet each student’s personal preferences, and all maps include scheduling and advising notes, as well as information about potential careers.

Both of these features have a deep history at the college, dating back to Fall 2017 and the work of the Clarify Program Paths project team. Here are some key milestones in the team’s work:

Fall 2017

Project Design

  • September: finalized team membership and charter, established regular meeting times and researched colleges that have completed Guided Pathways to see what could be used at ARC
  • October-November: created and submitted a project plan and timeline for 2017-18

Areas of Interest

  • September: defined what Areas of Interest will look like at ARC and how they are intended to be used
  • September-October: did a card-sorting activity with a variety of people to identify clusters of related programs that could become Areas of Interest
  • November-December: identified potential Areas of Interest and placed programs into each of those areas
  • December: gave the proposed Areas of Interest to the Research Office to survey students on appropriate names

Program Maps

  • September-December: designed program maps and the mapping process, including discussions regarding
    • why we are creating program maps
    • what "full-time" and "part-time" means
    • the concern that we are limiting student choice by providing default GE and elective courses in maps
    • how maps will be used by students and counselors, and how they are different from educational plans
    • selecting appropriate default GE courses in degree maps and what GE patterns to use for each degree
    • balancing GE courses across the maps so none are over- or under-utilized
    • including in each degree map at least one GE course that addresses diversity and multicultural issues, gender and sexuality, people and cultures outside the U.S., or race and ethnicity
  • December: prioritized which programs to map in Spring 2018 -- the top 5 in each Area of Interest

Spring 2018

Seeking Input on the Plan

  • January: held flex activities and made a presentation to the Academic Senate to inform the college regarding our work and to collect questions and feedback
  • February: held informal lunchtime talks at the CTL about program mapping and selecting default GE courses for maps
  • March: presented plans to the Counseling department, surveyed students to get their input on Areas of Interest as well as program maps, and surveyed department chairs about program placement into areas of interest

Creating Program Maps for Degrees and Certificates

  • January: started mapping certificates in the Technical Education division and started mapping certificates in the "top 5" list
  • February: started designing printable versions of maps
  • March: started mapping degrees in the "top 5" list

Submitting the Plan for Approval

  • April 13: submitted final recommendations to Student Success Council for approval

Fall 2018

Implementing the Plan

  • September: finalized team membership and draft charter, established regular meeting times
  • September: approved revised Areas of Interest based on college feedback at convocation
  • September: approved a work plan and a template for printable versions of program maps
  • September: continued mapping programs in the "top 10" list, plus all ADTs, plus any volunteers
  • October: began preparing color PDF versions of approved roadmaps to share with Counseling and with Achieve students
  • October: began documenting software specifications for maintaining program roadmaps, as well as researching software vendor options
  • October: began the process to create a new Program Pathways committee of the Academic Senate
  • October: shared color PDF versions of some roadmaps with Counseling for feedback
  • October: began creating in-house software (Atlas) for creating and maintaining program roadmaps
  • November: shared color PDF versions of some roadmaps with Achieve students for feedback
  • November: decided to expand Atlas to include a public-facing component
  • November: recruited Map Mentors to assist faculty in creating program roadmaps using Atlas
  • December: new Program Paths committee of the Academic Senate approved

Spring 2019

Implementing the Plan

  • January: sent approved roadmaps to department chairs and deans for final review
  • January: trained map mentors
  • January: map mentors began their work
  • February: designed public-facing component of Atlas
  • April: submitted final report to Student Success Council for approval