All curriculums are not created equal. Colleges and universities enjoy considerable discretion over how they design courses of study, set criteria for assigning grades, and connecting students to specific fields of study. Within a given university, departments and individual faculty often have a lot of leeway in how they choose to rate, rank and formally evaluate the students in their classrooms.

Pathways researchers are devoting considerable effort to recognizing and describing this variation: across instructors, academic programs, and institutions. It’s important work, because how requirements and grades are structured can substantially influence how students make sense of their fitness for particular academic paths.