General FAQs

What is Pathways?

Pathways is a resource implemented by Pitt to help students most effectively navigate their Pitt journey and promote student success. Pathways does this by easing administrative tasks, like scheduling appointments and messaging students; offering a central location and structure for advisors and other staff to share important information about students across offices at Pitt; and using predictive analytics to identify students who might need more support.

Do I have access to Pathways?

We have implemented Pathways through a deliberate timeline, outlined here. Please email PathwaysHelp@pitt.edu if you'd like access to Pathways.

Does the Pathways access model meet Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) guidelines?

Yes, the Pathways team has worked closely with the Office of University Counsel, Pitt IT, and the Registrar’s Office to make sure our access model meets FERPA guidelines. In fact, all users of Pathways must watch a video on FERPA recorded by Jen Marco before they are granted access to the platform.

Is Pathways trying to replace the in-person advising experience with data?

No, not at all! Pathways seeks to give advisors (1) better tools to allow them to spend more time with students and less time on administration and (2) better information so they know which students need more support and outreach.

What is the Othot piece of Pathways?

Othot is the artificial intelligence engine of Pathways. Using predictive analytics, Othot identifies students who might need more support to achieve outcomes, like graduating within six years.

Do students see the results of the predictive analytics?

No, only advisors and staff associated with extracurricular activities see this information. Moreover, these individuals receive specific instructions not to share the specific results with students.

Is Pathways robust enough to support different advising approaches?

Yes! Pathways in being used in a diverse group of advising settings, from small professional advising offices with low student-to-advisor ratios to school-level professional advising offices with high student-to-advisor ratios to departments with faculty advisors. The Pathways team works closely with the unit to tailor the Pathways system to the specific needs of that advising unit.

How did we choose EAB and Othot?

An open and inclusive process was used to identify and select EAB and Othot. In 2016 a request for proposals was made available. Proposals were scored by a group of faculty and administrators from a variety of academic units on campus. The three proposals with the best scores were invited to present to a larger group of faculty, advisors, students, and the administrators in February 2017. Those in attendance were asked to provide reviews of the presentations. Based on the reviews, it was determined that no one proposal addressed all of the areas identified in the request for proposals. It was decided that the combination of EAB and Othot best met those needs because they were, in combination, able to address many of the areas identified in the request for proposal. 

What are predictive analytics and how can students opt-out of advisor/administrator access to this information?

As part of Pathways, we use administrative student data (e.g., course grades, GPA, admissions data) to identify students who might need more help to achieve key milestones, like being retained and graduating on-time. Advisors and administrators will use the results of these predictive analytic models for targeted outreach to students and to inform advising.

It is important to keep in mind that only administrative student data are used, not things like, card swipes around campus or Wifi usage. However, students can opt-out of advisors and administrators having access to the results of the predictive analytic models.  As such, students would not be a part of targeted outreach and their advisors wouldn’t have the results of the predictive analytic models to inform advising conversations.  Students can learn more here:  https://www.pathways.pitt.edu/students/opt-out-predictive-analytics.