Ending the second-year blues: a systematic literature review of strategies and interventions implemented to support the second-year experience (SYE) and increase student motivation, engagement and retention.

Year: 2019

Author: Turley, Janet

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Students during their higher education journey, encounter multiple experiences and transitions which if not supported by significant interventions can negatively impact student engagement, well-being and success. Understanding the academic, social and personal impacts of these states of learning and development have become strategic priorities, informing institutional and pedagogic problem solving and decision making. In higher education student attrition in the second and third years combined, approximates to the number associated with attrition in first year and yet the second year has historically received less attention in University programmes and literature than first year with its focus on transition and retention and the final year, preparing students for the workplace. Nevertheless, it has been recognised that second year students have unique needs and lower levels of satisfaction than other cohorts. They often become lost, neither buoyed by the excitement of commencing their studies, nor inspired by being close to completion, causing them to experience the ‘second year blues’ (Jacobs & Newstead, 2000). The purpose of this research is to use a systematic literature review to establish the scope and range of research which explores strategies and interventions implemented in Universities internationally to support the SYE. The review will provide narrative explanation of the included studies through the interrogation of factors and relationships that influence the SYE and associated transitions. It is hoped that the review will identify collaborative strategies and initiatives that significantly impact student learning outcomes and motivational processes and are potentially transferable, being adopted or adapted by educators and institutions. Initial findings suggest that it is essential to avoid viewing the SYE in isolation. Second year is an integrated and progressive period of the undergraduate student journey. Understanding patterns of disengagement is critical to preemptively offer responsive instruction, feedback and flexible learning in conjunction with social and peer support to address changing academic and personal student needs. Issues relating to social and emotional well-being contribute extensively to student attrition in second year and the curriculum can be used as a mechanism to enhance student’s emotional intelligence and self-efficacy through personal development planning. Further educational research will involve in-depth interviews and focus groups with students and institutional stakeholders and a student survey designed to test the findings using the validity of the lived SYE in the field of Communication.

Jacobs, P., & Newstead, S. (2000). The nature and development of student motivation. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 70, 243-254.