Finding patterns in sequences is central to pathways science. We start from the premise that progress at school and work is cumulative: prior accomplishments set conditions for subsequent ones, with meaningful advancement happening through a series of iterative steps. Pathways researchers use records of sequences to observe variation in progress across thousands of cases; this enables us to offer meaningful advice and coaching to others navigating the same terrain. We also use sequences of prior learners and workers to forecast how subsequent sequences are likely to unfold.
How US undergraduates navigate elective curriculums is an orienting problem for pathways science. The complexity and iterative character of elective choice make it a formidable modeling challenge — and all the more important to tackle since timely progress to graduation is an important goal for students and schools alike. Much of this work has been pursued in the service of building practical tools to assist students in navigating academic options to make better-informed decisions. Learn more about some of these navigation tools below.
Pathways researchers also recognize that computational tools and conceptual heuristics we build to study elective choice will be applicable in other domains, including job search and career trajectories in labor markets.