W59 – Putting the ‘experience’ in to the second year experience

ROOM E – MONDAY 15:30-16:30

Workshop – 60 minutes

Andrea Lyons-Lewis

School of Social Sciences, Division of Sociology, Nottingham Trent University

Andrea Lyons-Lewis is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Nottingham Trent University.  As part of this role she is the Service Learning Co-ordinator and Year 2 Tutor for the BA Criminology Course.  Andrea has a long standing interest in teaching & learning and has previously done research on active and independent learning and academic practices within the discipline.  She is also an activist involved with Nottingham Citizens, an umbrella organisation, which fosters engagement in civil society.


This interactive workshop will explore the nature of the ‘second year experience’ in our various institutions. Our work on a ‘service learning’ module will provide an example of an innovative second year experience, where, working with civil society organisations we’ve attempted to engage students as active citizens.


Traditionally in the UK the second year has been a ‘lost year’ and these ‘middle children’ (Gahagan and Hunter, 2006) have been the focus of limited attention by universities as well as by those researching higher education.  At Nottingham Trent University we have introduced a ‘Service Learning’ module for second year students on BA Criminology and one of our key aspirations for this module is to promote not just deeper engagement with the course and the discipline, but also to foster active citizenship.

In this interactive workshop I’d like to engage participants in a conversation about the ‘second year experience’ in their institutions; share examples of our students’ posters to stimulate discussion about the learning journey the students have been on and use a model from Morton (1995) with participants to explore if we should be promoting active citizenship and how this might be achieved.  These 3 activities will be the focal point of the workshop allowing participants, in discussion with fellow delegates, to reflect on and share their own practices.

We believe that education is a public good and that it should have wider benefits than to meet the needs of the globalised labour market.  We want to develop active citizens who ‘critically engage with and seek to affect the course of social events’ (Ross, 2012:7).   These ideas are not new; whilst we are deeply indebted to John Dewey (1859-1952) for his ideas about experiential learning, he was also most insistent that the purpose of education was to foster democratic engagement.  Freire (2010) too saw education as the path to political consciousness.

With this in mind, we re-designed our second year with a Policing Pathway and a Generic Pathway.  Students on the Generic Pathway, take a 40 credit point Service Learning Module in the second term, which I co-ordinate and which is the focus of my attention here.  Long established in the USA, service learning seeks to ‘bridge higher education and communities and to integrate the worlds of scholarship and application in order to strengthen each and transform both’ (Rice, 2010:1). In essence, it is a form of student work experience in that learning takes place off campus but is distinctive due to its focus on meeting authentic community needs, reciprocal partnerships and experiential learning.

Students on the module in 2014/15 are working with organisations including the local crime and drugs partnership, domestic violence charities, organisations promoting alcohol free night life, women’s centres and more.  Whilst it is the early days of their projects, students’ excitement is palpable.  After this first ‘pilot’ it would be beneficial for us to share this experience with colleagues from across Europe to see how we could all learn from each other to enhance the ‘second year experience’.

Dewey, J, 2004, Democracy and Education, Mineola: Dover Publications

Freire, P, 2010, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, New York: Continuum

Gahagan, J. & Hunter, M. S. (2006) ‘The Second-Year Experience: Turning Attention to the Academy’s Middle Children’, About Campus 11(3): 17-22

Morton, K

Ross, A. (2012) ‘Editorial: Education for Active Citizenship: Practices, Policies, Promises’

International Journal of Progressive Education 8(3): 7-14.



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