Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Academic and Career Pathways Design Process

Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, a team of advisors, student service and workforce practitioners, faculty, and administrators from across the college collaborated to design the foundation for the Academic and Careers Pathways framework.

The Implementation Design Teams developed a framework that will serve as a reference guide, identifying systemic challenges and opportunities the college can explore to support equitable student outcomes.


In April 2020 PCC announced an opportunity for all interested employees to engage in the Academic and Career Pathways design work. Through this inclusive approach, nearly 140 individuals responded and participated in a unique year-long collaboration with voices represented from all levels of the organization in the design process.

The Academic and Careers Pathways design teams were charged with designing a new way of collaborating across teams, breaking down silos to support a One College for Equitable Student Success model that is grounded in equity and helps drive the institution to become more student-centered.

Their recommendations serve as a guide for the ongoing  implementation of the student experience within and across the College’s  Academic and Career Pathways. An organizational redesign was implemented during 2020-21 that will provide the administrative and operational structure to apply the design teams’ recommendations. The goal is to apply a continuous improvement approach to identify and dismantle systemic barriers to equitable student outcomes.

Design process

Participants were divided into 20 Implementation Design Teams with each person committing to dual roles. There were 14 role-based teams tasked with understanding and identifying the core elements needed to be student-centered in each area. In addition, each participant was assigned to one of six Pathway teams where they were able to carry forward recommendations from their role-based teams to inform Pathway design.

The process was central to the design work. Each team met more than 50 times over the course of one year to help identify systemic barriers to address before creating new solutions. All meetings began by grounding in intentional equity practices to ensure individuals were present and conversations centered around an equity framework. Participants were encouraged to bring their best current thinking and practices to develop solutions, knowing that the focus was not on perfection, but on systemic action and continuous improvement.

One of the key design areas focused on monitoring and evaluation within a continuous improvement framework that will move the college away from collecting data simply for compliance to a process that supports PCC’s vision of student-centered success.

This means that the design and implementation of student-centered processes and systems is iterative and ongoing. The college will continue to assess the efficacy of systems, processes, and programs to inform planning and improvements, and new best practices will be applied as they emerge.

Continuous improvement model

Continuous improvement graphic

See text description of continuous improvement graphic

Graphic showing 4 sections (improve, plan, implement, and evaluate) that form a circle around the words equitable student success. Arrows move around the 4-section circle, forming a cycle.

The evaluation process will incorporate multiple measures of data which will be collected at multiple points in time. Intersecting multiple measures of data will create a comprehensive understanding of student success and how the college can respond to meet the needs of all students and impact student achievement. Data will be included across four different areas: Demographics, Perception of Belonging, Processes and Programs, and Teaching and Learning.

Multiple measures
Multiple measures graphic
See text description of multiple measures graphic

Graphic showing how demographic data, belonging perception data, teaching and learning data, and processes and programs data overlap to make equitable student success in the middle.

  • Demographics: Demographic data provides descriptive information about the college community and trends. For example enrollment, attendance, gender, race/ethnicity, native languages, etc.
  • Belonging: Belonging is perceptions data that demonstrates how students and employees feel about the learning environment at PCC and the extent to which they feel welcome, safe, and a valued part of the learning community.
  • Teaching and learning: Teaching and Learning data refers to a variety of standard assessments that measure the success of the educational system.
  • Processes and programs: Processes and programs data includes strategies and practices employed by the institution in classes and programs and can be used to assess their effectiveness.

Establishing a process for utilizing multiple measures will ensure a more comprehensive understanding of student success data to help drive solutions that will center equity and the student experience.

Design outcomes

The Academic and Career Pathways Design work resulted in eight aspirational outcomes that align with the four key themes of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. The Implementation Design Teams collaborated with colleagues from across the college to identify the strategies, action steps, and processes to monitor implementation for each of the outcomes.


Cultivate a long-term, sustainable college enterprise.

  1. PCC core values and beliefs, the Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice program evaluation, and the continuous improvement framework drive all action.
  2. PCC employs a collaborative and interdependent operating structure to support student planning, progression, and success.

Respond to community and workforce needs by developing a culture of agility.

  1. Curricular pathways to employment and further education are clear, aligned, and monitored for implementation.
  2. Labor market/sector analysis informs all pillars of ACP processes – aligned with changes in the labor market.

Transform our learning culture toward creating a sense of belonging and well-being for every student.

  1. All students and PCC employees experience a sense of institution-wide belonging.
  2. Students have the ongoing support needed to consistently experience success on their desired path.

Redefine time, place, and systems of educational delivery to create a more learner-central ecosystem.

  1. Learning is happening with intentional outcomes.
  2. Processes are in place to support all students as they explore, select, and enter their pathway.

Next steps

View information about the next steps on the Academic and Career Pathways Design Teams page.