Demystifying Model Curriculum: Intersegmental and Intrasegmental Model Curriculum

ASCCC Vice President
ASCCC Area D Representative, C-ID Liaison

When people hear the term model curriculum, they often think of the Transfer Model Curricula (TMCs) that are used to create Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADTs) at community colleges. The passage of SB1440 (Padilla, 2010) created the ADTs and implemented specific guarantees for students, including admission to a CSU campus with junior standing. Many articles have been written about TMCs and ADTs; this article, however, is not one of them. Rather, this article will explore two other types of model curriculum: intersegmental model curricula (ISMCs) and intrasegmental model curricula (CCCMCs).

From the beginning, faculty realized that since ADTs are restricted to a total of 60 units including the completion of CSU GE Breadth or IGETC, creating a degree that includes sufficient major preparation and a transfer general education pattern within the ADT constraints would be difficult, if not impossible, for certain disciplines. In order to serve such disciplines, faculty determined that another type of model curriculum could prove useful, and therefore the idea of an Intersegmental Model Curriculum (ISMC) was born.  Although high unit majors had no way to create an ADT that would comply with the requirements of education code, they could still develop a clearly-defined pathway that would prepare community college students for transfer. What followed was ISMCs for nursing and engineering. The creation of the ISMCs is closely aligned to the process that created the TMCs; each ISMC is developed intersegmentally with faculty from both the community colleges and the CSU determining the courses that are vital for students to be prepared to transfer into the major at the CSU. Once an ISMC is created, it is vetted with discipline faculty, reviewed by the Model Curriculum Workgroup (MCW) and the Intersegmental Curriculum Workgroup (ICW), and accepted by the Intersegmental Curriculum Faculty Workgroup with the final version posted to the C-ID website,

Completion of an ADT aligned to a TMC guarantees the student admission to a CSU campus with junior standing. While completion of an AA or AS degree aligned to an ISMC does not include this guaranteed admission to a CSU campus, it does prepare a student for transfer through an intersegmentally defined curricular preparation for a particular major. Using the ISMCs can simplify the transfer process for students by eliminating confusion about what courses they should take. Additionally, an ISMC creates comparability for associate degrees across community colleges, so CSU campuses know that students completing an ISMC will have excellent preparation when they apply to transfer. Beyond the preparation in a particular major that completing a degree or certificate aligned to an ISMC offers, using an ISMC also includes the same course reciprocity as has been established for TMCs, the flexibility to use any general education pattern including local GE, and no additional graduation requirements.

An ISMC provides clear and consistent transfer preparation for students, but faculty have also realized that similar model curricula could benefit students in career and technical education programs. Perspective employers should be interested in ensuring consistent preparation for students entering the workforce with a degree or certificate in a particular field.  The need to align degrees and certificates with the expectations of employers led to the creation of Intrasegmental Model Curricula (CCCMCs). Discipline faculty design each CCCMC based upon input from employers, sector navigators, and deputy sector navigators. The process for creation is similar to the ISMC, but CSU faculty may not be involved when their system has no similar discipline. Although a CCCMC may not indicate a clear pathway to transfer when it is initially created, CSU faculty may elect to participate if they see a possibility that students may continue their education by transferring to CSU in major that is similar to the CCCMC discipline or if the major may be developed at the CSU in the future. This cooperation between CCC and CSU faculty ensures that students will have a way to continue their education as they progress in their careers. Aligning degrees and certificates to a CCCMC not only ensures that students are well prepared for a career, but it also allows for curricular portability and reciprocity so that a student who may move to another community college’s program will not need to repeat courses or be forced to start over. As an added benefit, CCCMCs specifically address several of the recommendations from the Taskforce on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy, including “Facilitate curricular portability across institutions” and “Enable and encourage faculty and colleges, in consultation with industry, to develop industry- driven, competency-based and portable pathways.”

With ISMCs and CCCMCs, faculty are working together to create clear pathways for students into four year universities and the workforce. Even though these model curricula do not include all of the guarantees that come with an ADT, they provide colleges with a way to clearly inform students about what courses they need to take to be properly prepared for achieving their educational and career goals.