Sophomore year is a unique time in the undergraduate liberal arts experience. This can be a year of shifting expectations, selecting majors, seeking out experiential learning opportunities, and settling into college life while also thinking more about life beyond Luther.
Next Steps for Sophomores consists of five faculty/staff groups working on interrelated initiatives designed to connect with students at multiple points in and around the sophomore year. All of these initiatives are guided by the following purpose statement:
To cultivate student reflection - especially in the sophomore year - that strengthens self-understanding and enhances vocational discovery. This work will help students understand and articulate the value of the liberal arts and envision their own contributions to the common good.
How did we get here?
Starting in the summer of 2016, a group of around 50 faculty and staff led by Ruth Kath, Brenda Ranum, and Mike Blair started meeting to explore possibilities for deep reflection on vocation and the liberal arts with a focus on sophomores. This group emerged both in response to the HLC Quality Initiative on advising at Luther, as well as due to the receipt of a grant from CIC-NetVUE on continuing the exploration of vocation at Luther.
Over the course of the academic year, five "learning communities" of faculty and staff met regularly with the goals of developing tools and identifying opportunities to deepen vocational reflection in sophomores. During the spring semester, the faculty and staff co-facilitators for those groups began to meet to discuss ways to carry this work forward, ultimately selecting five pilot and planning initiatives to continue to advance in the 2017-2018 academic year.
● Piloting an e-portfolio tool that acts as a repository for student reflection and signature work.
● Piloting a J-term reflection “lab” experience in a subset of J185 first year seminar courses.
● Planning for a fall of 2018 sophomore orientation that meets a broad audience of sophomores.
● Developing tools to guide work study students in reflection about how student work experiences connect to the academic program and to evolving plans for a future career.
● Developing ideas for further integrating sophomore reflection in the major.