Woman contemplating

I Wonder About

This is the question participants were asked at Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 CCCGP Workshops. The questions were collected, curated, and organized here in a Guided Pathways Inquiry Guide. Colleges working on guided pathways can use this guide to support collegewide inquiry and knowledge-building. Feel free to use any of the inquiry questions and facilitation materials you find here to lead your own inquiry sessions.


Leading an Inquiry Session

Here is a template for an inquiry session agenda and follow-up.

Ice Breaker

Consider starting your inquiry session out with an ice breaker even if everyone knows each other. Ice breakers can help the group get to know one another informally.

Set Goals

Establish some confidence in your inquiry session by setting some clear goals; What do you want to learn, discover, or brainstorm together?

Cross-Functional Inquiry

Who is in the room? Make note of who you have and who is missing. This will help you to gather input from missing groups later and identify where their voice is really necessary.

Establish Roles

Establishing new roles for the group that are focused on ensuring productive discussion can help make your discussion more inclusive. Roles can include translator, level setter, and closer.

Brain Dump

As a group, jot down one list of what you already know about the set goals and one list about what you want to learn.

Start the Inquiry

Using the inquiry questions in this guide or those that have come up at your own institution, engage in a small group discussion.

Share the Takeaway

Share out to the larger group. Synthesize major takeaways from the group inquiry.

Engage Stakeholders

Engage the larger community by sharing your inquiry processes, topics discussed, and major takeaways. Give constituent groups opportunities to provide input.

Maintain Your Momentum

Keep your inquiry alive by planning where you will go next. What are some follow-up questions? Where might you need more information or data to keep moving forward?

Cross-Functional Inquiry

Tips to help you facilitate productive discussions.

Take Inventory

  • Who do you have at the table?
  • Who are you missing?
  • What constituent groups or roles are not represented?

Shared Facilitation


Ask for volunteers to help facilitate. Assign volunteer roles:

  1. Translator
    Checks for comprehension
  2. Level setter
    Ensures all voices are heard
  3. Closer
    Record main takeaways

Discuss in Groups

  • Identify inquiry questions that meet the group where they are
  • Focus on one or two key points of inquiry - dive deep, hear all voices
  • Report out to larger group

Establish Roles

Shared Facilitation helps your team ensure that all voices are heard, everyone is comprehending the discussion, and important takeaways are recorded.

  • Manage agenda & time
  • Observe
  • Listen
  • Ask questions
  • Invite quieter voices to participate
  • Ensure dominant voices allow other voices to be heard
  • Check for comprehension
  • Make sure everyone at the table understands
  • Ask clarifying questions when necessary
  • Record main takeaways
  • Note clear next steps
  • Share notes from the discussion

Early Adoption Inquiry

Early Adoption Inquiry can help to build trust and teams while building knowledge about guided pathways, your college, students, and colleagues. Try using a shared facilitation model in cross-functional teams.

What’s the
guided pathways framework
& what’s my role in it?


  • Guided pathways are designed to allow student exploration that is intentional, furthering students toward their goals. How will students have opportunities to explore and change their minds in a guided pathway?
  • Guided pathways have proven to close achievement gaps. How are equity gaps addressed with the guided pathways framework?
  • Community college students struggle with a variety of barriers. What barriers that impact students are guided pathways meant to address?
  • Are guided pathways for all students? Will lifelong learners and skill builders still have a place at the college?


  • Guided pathways maps are comprehensive, with General Education, basic skills, and non-academic milestones clearly identified. How is this different from current degree and certificate program maps? How do we decide where to include General Education requirements and non-academic milestones? How can we build maps knowing that many students change their majors?
  • What is the difference between guided pathways, career pathways, and learning communities? How can we build on the work we have done with career pathways and learning communities to design meaningful and supportive guided pathways to career and transfer?
  • Many career pathway programs are not connected to transfer degree maps. If guided pathways are asking us to map all degrees and certificates to careers while incorporating transfer requirements, will we still be able to meet the needs of skill-builders and job certificate seekers? How can we build guided pathways with these students in mind?
  • How can we take the best of both career pathways and liberal arts education to design comprehensive pathways for all students seeking degrees, certificates, or transfers?


  • How can we ensure all functional roles at the college are included in the inquiry, design, and implementation? Are there hierarchical systems in place that limit institutional cross-role dialogue?
  • Building trust and empathy across functional roles and departments is necessary for open and honest dialogue. How can we build empathy for all roles at the college through knowledge-sharing?
  • How can administrators create and participate in the dialogue without being an authoritative presence that restricts open dialogue?
  • We know student voice and experience is central to having difficult discussions about college processes and outcomes. How do we capture student voice in meaningful ways?


  • Cross-functional inquiry led by a leadership team from various organizational levels can help set the stage for shared leadership and collective empowerment. How can we further ensure inclusivity across the college?
  • Many colleges undergoing transformational change efforts spend time building trust and orienting the leaderships teams to the goals of the work. How can we engage in meaningful team building to establish trust in discussing institutional barriers to student success? How can shared leadership identify sensitive topics and prepare to facilitate open dialogue about these topics?
  • Having a shared understanding of your goals and purpose is grounding to group discussions. Will a collective problem statement or goal help focus our discussions? How can this collective vision help to manage the change process?
  • Horizontal and vertical leaders are needed for transformational change to maintain momentum. Who should lead these change efforts at your college? Who can help to manage the change processes through clear communication and support?

Scaling in Progress Inquiry

Scaling in Progress Inquiry can help college teams develop a vision for guided pathways redesign, focusing on transformation that is inclusive of all roles at the college.

How does this
all come together?


  • CCRC’s integration timeline shows a 5-7 year timeline for inquiry, design, and implementation. Does that seem reasonable for our institution? What are some existing initiatives that we can leverage?
  • Inquiry and design need to happen for elements of guided pathways, but before inquiry focused on specific elements of guided pathways occurs institutions should understand the guided pathways framework and why it has been shown to increase student success. Where should the inquiry start for your institution? Is there a general understanding of the guided pathways framework at your college? If not, where are there opportunities for institutional learning and engagement with the research?
  • Many colleges start the design process by developing inclusive decision-making structures and embarking on all college mapping of meta-majors to student end goals. What is your institution’s starting point and where can you find energy and momentum in designing elements of the guided pathways framework?


  • How inclusive are decision-making structures now? Can you identify gaps in the current communication loop that may help bridge relevant roles? Can you identify gaps where area experts should be included but currently are not?
  • Do you have a college committee that brings in representatives from all constituent groups? Are there ways to build from this committee to broaden the voices to include cross-functional roles within these groups?
  • Are there barriers to attending meetings for specific constituent groups? What are some ways to remedy this issue?
  • Do you have a college-wide newsletter or communication system that can be leveraged to provide regular updates on guided pathways?


  • In a guided pathways college, everyone is responsible for student success and equity as defined by your local disproportionate impact studies. What is your role at the college and how do you help students succeed in reaching their goals?
  • What department, program, or service are you affiliated with and how does your program serve students? Where do you see natural opportunities to collaborate with other programs or service areas to provide students with a more supportive experience? What do you imagine that collaboration looks like from the student, faculty, and staff perspectives?
  • Are there resources on campus that you often refer students to? Can you imagine a way to collaborate with those resources to provide a more seamless support network for students?


  • Every college embarks on the transformational change of guided pathways in a slightly different way. What element of the guided pathways framework do you feel your college is most ready to tackle? How have other colleges approached this element? What can you take from that and apply at your college?
  • Cross-functional inquiry and inclusive decision-making have proven critical to the success of guided pathways redesign. Can you identify fundamental values at your college that will help to stabilize these teams?
  • Do you have structures in place to document your change process in order to better reflect on your own lessons learned in this work? How can you build that into your guided pathways design?

Full Scale Inquiry

Full Scale Inquiry helps college teams to project plan and develop shared guiding principles for the work in preparation to move from inquiry to design.

How do we get started?


  • Do you have existing committees that are integral to guided pathways work? Can you plan ways for these groups to include guided pathways inquiry into their work where it aligns with their goal to increase student success? Can you build communication and collaboration structures to include the inquiry of these committees into your guided pathways inquiry and design work?
  • How can you work to ensure all functional roles are provided the opportunity to participate and share their expertise? How can you budget release time for faculty leaders? How can you provide staff and administrators time to participate in the work?
  • Do you have upcoming Flex Days or college hours that could be dedicated to guided pathways inquiry and design work?


  • What are the main points of concern from people skeptical of guided pathways at your college? How can these perspectives help you to ensure that you are considering all angles and moving forward thoughtfully and productively?
  • Can you identify data points that can provide an opportunity to engage in difficult conversations about the student experience? How can you present that data in a way that the broader college community can engage with it?
  • How can you structure a forum in which you directly address concerns and engage in productive dialogue, learning from each other? How can the questions and concerns be used as an opportunity to deepen and improve your inquiry and design processes?
  • Championing change requires balanced perspectives. Where can you leverage the concerns to help ensure that you are remaining open, honest, and inclusive?
  • Are students included in your guided pathways inquiry? How can you better prepare and empower them to speak about their experiences in open forums?


  • Equity Data: How many and which of your students are reaching their stated goals of degree or certificate attainment or transfer? What percentage of students successfully complete key gatekeeper courses in their major? When you drill down into completion data, do you see any groups disproportionately impacted?
  • Basic Skills and AB 705 Data: How many of your incoming students place into basic skills English, Math, or ESL? How many of those students make it to transfer level? What support systems are in place to identify struggling students?
  • SWP Data: Are students able to find employment in their chosen field after completing their degree or certificate? Are they successful in their employment? Do they see a wage gain?
  • How many semesters does it take students to complete a degree or transfer at your institution? How many units have students acquired by graduation? Do these units count against their financial aid unit cap? How do students' earned units compare to their attempted units? How many units do students earn beyond the requirements of their educational goal?


  • How can you leverage the energy and drive of change agents at your institution? What does your college need to build a culture of change that is safe and open? Can you identify past pain points at the college when implementing change?
  • Can you find starting points in your college-wide integrated plan that will build off current work and create some early successes?
  • Do you have effective communication systems with the larger college community? Are there areas in your communication systems that need refining to ensure that everyone in the community is informed and included in collegewide discussions and decision-making?

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