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«CIC Institute November 3, 2014 Why did you choose this session? What do you want to learn from this session? Defining ‘Sophomore’ • More ...»

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Sophomore to Junior Year


Laurie A. Schreiner

Professor of Higher Education

Azusa Pacific University

CIC Institute

November 3, 2014

Why did

you choose

this session?

What do

you want to

learn from

this session?

Defining ‘Sophomore’

• More difficult to define

than other points of

student transition

• More ambiguity around

beginning and ending

How has your

institution defined


What is your


Does your institution target sophomores for any special programming and services? Why?

Is there a “sophomore slump” on your campus? How do you know?

The “Sophomore Slump”

• Higher-than- expected attrition from the second to third year of college

• Reduced motivation

• Declining academic performance The Retention Funnel Total First-Year First-time Full-time (entry cohort) ________________________

Total Sophomores (from the above cohort) _____________________

Total Juniors (from freshman cohort) _________________

Total Seniors (from freshman cohort) _____________

Total Graduates (from freshman cohort) _________ Since 2007 25,000 sophomores 90 institutions Sophomores Slumping?

Sophomore year is worse or much 21.1% worse than first year Courses are worse/much worse 20.1% than first year Getting grades below a B average 21.2% Still unsure of my major 11% Surviving…barely 25% Sophomores Slumping?

Dissatisfied with….

My grades 21.9% Advising 33.2% My living situation 22.6% My health 20.2% My interactions with faculty 22.4% My peer relationships 21.1% The whole college experience 18.7% The amount I’m learning 14.1% About 1 in 4 sophomores are experiencing a “slump” in motivation, grades, or satisfaction with the college experience The Sophomore Slump … In Students’ Words

• Kind of invisible on

• I’ve lost all my excitement campus

• Don’t see the purpose • It’s a lot lonelier— anymore there’s no effort on the part of the institution to

• I’m paying for all the involve us stupid mistakes I made as a freshman

• I think a lot of people

• Sophomore year is when are hitting an “oh crap you finish all the crappy moment”– there are a stuff, so I expected this lot of forks in the road.

“We aren’t new anymore, but we aren’t getting out anytime soon, either!” Redefining ‘Sophomore Slump’ A multi-dimensional phenomenon including one or more

of the following:

• academic deficiencies

• academic disengagement

• dissatisfaction with the collegiate experience

• major and career indecision

• developmental confusion

--Kennedy & Upcraft, 2010 The Sophomore Transition What happened to all the attention from last year?

What happened to my friends?

Why am I always last in line now?

What am I doing with my life?

How would you describe a successful sophomore?

A New Vision for Student Success

• Focuses on the transitions of the college experience

• Takes a strengths development approach to what helps students succeed during each transition

• Research-based

• Specific chapter on our research with sophomores: “Beyond Sophomore Survival” Thriving

–  –  –

Focused attention (mindfulness) Meaningful Processing (deep learning) “I have learned more than I ever thought I could and have seen things in different ways that I never thought of ” Schreiner & Louis, 2011 Academic Determination What are challenges to thriving academically as sophomores?

• Dealing with an intensified curriculum

• Reduced motivation:

being in an academic twilight zone and needing to have “Plan B” ready

• Career and major selection issues

• Opportunity to interact with faculty Reduced Motivation

• Nothing has aroused their curiosity or engaged their intellect or their passion “My fire has not been lit yet.”

• Not being challenged enough in classes “I thought college would be harder than high school. Teachers care about me, but not about my education. Make me work. Make me better.”

• Lack of self-efficacy; feeling overwhelmed “It is so hard, I don’t want to study because I know I will just do bad anyways.” An Unexpected


Faculty Who Don’t Engage “Unenthusiastic teachers kill the learning atmosphere.

That’s what has made my year the hardest so far….” “My professors don’t even know who I am, let alone care about me or my life.” “The faculty seem really stressed out.” “You can tell they don’t really want to be here….and neither do we.” Social Connectedness Challenges to Thriving Socially in the Sophomore Year Roommate conflicts and other housing issues Finding time for friends – job and academic demands Solidifying relationships “Sophomore year is difficult because you either have a solid group of friends from freshman year or you are stuck with a bunch of immature freshmen.” “Freshman year consisted of a lot of mentoring and meeting people and having a sense that I could get a handle on things. But come sophomore year I’ve many times felt very much alone as far as being connected with the school….I have felt somewhat isolated.” “It’s tough learning to adjust to sophomore year versus freshman year because there is a lot less effort being put in by the institution for a sense of community. Everyone is busier and has their set friends and so sophomore year is lonelier.” “Could you maybe send us an e-mail about some fun things we might want to get involved with on campus?” Positive Perspective “There are always ups and downs, but this place really sets you up for the ‘ups’ – it’s all what you make of it!” Challenges to Thriving Emotionally as Sophomores

• Reality hits hard

• Institution is not as supportive as during the first year—and service excellence slips

• Time management even more difficult—one of the lowest scoring areas on the survey

• Negative behavioral patterns catch up to them • 20% of sophomores get less than 4 hours of sleep a night at least “fairly often”

• Financial issues Engaged Learning

–  –  –

• Are a source of strength in difficult times

• Are the foundation of my approach to life

• Give meaning and purpose to life

2) Meaning and purpose in general

–  –  –

1. lack of commitment to the institution

2. absenteeism

3. lack of educational goals

4. lack of co-curricular activities

5. poor perceptions of faculty/staff caring interactions Sense of Purpose “I can’t justify this high tuition when I don’t know what I’m doing with my life!” “The classes I’m taking don’t engage me – I don’t see how they relate to what I want to do in life.” “How am I supposed to know what kind of job I’d be good at? I’m so lost!” Major Is a Good Fit “For the first time, I feel like I belong in my academic department.” “Sophomore year has been very hard in the sense that I have wanted to change my major to find something that fits for me and gives me a sense of significance, but I wish I had more time. There is a lot of pressure to declare a major and sometimes I feel like I’m not ready and I should take time off to find out who I am before I put my life into a box.” Engaged Learning

–  –  –

A major contributor to sense of community, especially for students of color What Predicts Sophomore Success?

After controlling for demographic variables and

institutional features:

• Being certain of their major (explains 5.5%)

• Levels of thriving (explains additional 18%)

–  –  –

• Campus Involvement

• Student-Faculty Interaction

• Spirituality

• Sense of Community Different Pathways to Thriving Ethnic minority students had fewer “pathways” to thriving than majority students—and those pathways differed across ethnic groups.

Ethnic Differences in Campus Involvement White students benefit most;

• Latino students build community this way African American students • are involved, but their involvement helps them thrive most when they are leaders Asian students are least • involved—and their involvement does not predict their thriving or sense of community Hurdles to Campus Involvement Latino students’ major hurdle was not living on campus African American students’ major barrier was having to work more than 20 hours a week off campus Connection to Faculty Sophomores’ level of interaction and satisfaction with faculty was the only campus experience variable in our study that significantly predicted every positive student outcome.

But there were racial differences in the degree to which faculty interaction helped students thrive.

Students of Color and Faculty African American students interacted the most and benefited the least….

BUT: validation and challenge made the difference Latino/a Students and Faculty Latino/a students had few interactions—and interactions were often negative….

BUT: social connections mattered Asian students had few interactions with faculty….

but flourished when connected through the major All students of color benefited


--research partnerships

--instructive feedback


--mentoring Satisfaction with Advising

• Fewer than 30% of the sophomores surveyed met with their advisor regularly in their sophomore year – 25.2% never or only once in the sophomore year

• Only 42.7% of the sophomores were satisfied or very satisfied with advising – this is the lowest level of satisfaction with any college experience

• Negative student comments about advising far outweighed positive ones Sophomores’ satisfaction with advising significantly


Their overall  satisfaction with their college experience Their satisfaction with  faculty Their perception of  tuition as a worthwhile investment “Advising was really stressful….I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go yet…. there wasn’t advising as far as helping me figure out what I wanted to do….like ‘What are your interests?’”

Small Group Activity:

Now that you are aware of some of the challenges and important issues for the sophomore year, what are the ELEMENTS that you think should comprise sophomoreyear programs and services on your campus?

Seven Areas of Focus for Sophomore Programming

• Community building and class identity

• Opportunities to interact with faculty outside of class

• Active involvement and connection on campus—including appropriate leadership opportunities

• Future thinking – study abroad, internships

• Critical self-assessment

• Structured major/interest exploration

–  –  –

Questions to ask ourselves about each


• Will students feel they matter?

• Have students contributed and had opportunity for input?

• Have we reached all types of students with an opportunity that meets their needs?

• Have we created partnerships toward bigger goals?

“There are a lot of activities geared toward freshmen and seniors, but I know I have felt more discouraged about staying in school this year than I was last year….if there could be some programs established to support sophomores, encouraging us to stick it out, I think that would be incredibly helpful.” 49.5% of students responding to the survey in 2014 had participated in at least one sophomore event or program— and these reported a significantly higher sense of community, thriving, and satisfaction with the sophomore year Developing Students’ Strengths Students who know how to apply their strengths to achieve academic success are more engaged and motivated in their courses • are more likely to reenroll • get better grades • are more satisfied with advising • interact with faculty more •

–  –  –

How will you gain commitment from senior leadership?

• Perception of need

• Retention, satisfaction, peer group comparisons, and other data

• Retention task force

• Fiscal imperative

• Connection to mission statement or strategic plan

• Value congruence Step 2: Build Support

–  –  –

What is the best way of meeting this need?

• Existing program that can be adapted

• New program – where housed?

Step 7: Package and Market Step 8: Assess the Program

• Plan the assessment BEFORE beginning the program

• What OUTCOMES do you want to see?

• How will you assess these outcomes?

Senior Reflections on the Sophomore Year

• Wished they had more class unity

• Wanted earlier research connections to faculty

• Wanted to be exposed to different types of classes and possibilities of a major

• Wish they had started preparing for life after college earlier

• Need to be reminded again and again of the resources available

• Wished they had taken more advantage of Career Services and Community Involvement (volunteering) Step 9: Use Assessment Results to Improve Initiatives

• How do you currently use assessment results?

• Who should be at the table to discuss these results?

• How do you disseminate your results?

• How do you use the results to improve programming or create new initiatives?

Final Recommendations

• Examine institutional policies and practices from a sophomore perspective

• Connect sophomores to faculty in intentional and meaningful ways

• Build community in and out of the classroom

• Focus sophomore advising on connecting present strengths and future identities—meaning and purpose, sense of calling The Sophomore Experiences Survey Part of the Thriving Project at Azusa Pacific University

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