#LTHEchat 75: Managing the Sophomore Slump, OR, how to Motivate Second Year Students as the Middle Child of the Higher Education Experience?

This weeks chat is kindly hosted by Dr Kerry Gough & Luke Millard



Dr Kerry Gough (@drkerrygough) is a Learning and Teaching Consultant at Nottingham Trent University. Having spent some time focusing upon the development of student transition programmes, this interest has recently shifted to consider the motivation of second year students in the continuation of their studies and the responsibility of higher education for supporting that .





Luke Millard (@millluca) is Head of the Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching at Birmingham City University. His investment in the second year experience is informed by a desire to enhance students’ employability skills in support of BCU’s Graduate+ programme.





What is this week about?

In the last decade, student engagement has become synonymous with innovation and re-design of the Higher Education learning experience, with much attention being paid to the transition, retention and progression of first students (and, of course, the associated financial implications for both the individual and the institution!) (Stuart Hunter et. al., 2010).

But, what happens when our students successfully transition and progress into their second year of study?

Many students report feelings of alienation and isolation as the social integration activities drop off, the expectations of their growing academic capability increases and the looming pressures of career choice exposure foretell the coming closure of the excitement of their higher education lifestyle. Termed the ‘second year blues’ in the UK and the ‘sophomore slump’ in the US, Yorke (2015) highlights how ‘the lack of focus, the drift, the seductiveness of socialising, the difficulties with relationships and a limited commitment to second-year work’ are characteristic of this period in a students’ higher education experience.

In effect, our second year students have become the middle child of the Higher Education experience. The honeymoon is over and now it’s time to study!

In our #LTHEchat, we are interested in exploring the research experiences and expertise of colleagues who are invested in supporting and reinforcing the second year student experience in higher education. This is an area that is achieving some critical attention in the US, as supported through the work of the National Resource Center for First Year Experience and Students in Transition, while many UK institutions are looking to extend the engagement work conducted around the first year experience, and to adopt the resource and support developed in support of the second year student experience. These developments include approaches to academic advising, development of career pathways, curriculum development, inter-disciplinary and inter-faculty projects, undergraduate research, study abroad programmes, opportunities to participate in undergraduate research and extended residential engagement.


Come and help us to develop the second year student experience by engaging

in the conversation on Wednesday, 8th February 2017 8-9pm (UK time) at: #lthechat



Stuart Hunter, Mary, et. al. 2010. Helping Sophomores Succeed: Understanding and Improving the Student Experience. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Yorke, Mantz, 2015. Why Study the Second Year? In: Milsom, Claire, Martyn Stewart, Mantz Yorke & Elena Zaitseva (Eds.) Stepping Up To The Second Year at University: Academic, Psychological and Social Dimensions. London: Routledge.


The storify is available here.


About Neil Withnell

I am a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing
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