The Second Year Slump in Engineering Students at James Cook University

Patrick Henry Peacock


This work looks at a number of student cohorts passing through the Bachelor of Engineering program at James Cook University with the aim to determine whether the phenomenon known as the second year slump is present and, if so, to what extent.

In one cohort, the mean drop in GPA score was over 0.5, which translates to dropping a grade down in two out of the four subjects undertaken. The least significant drop seen of around 0.25 is still a drop of a grade in a subject on average. As such, it was found that a slump appears to be present with a drop in GPA scores across all achievement levels and cohorts examined. While this obviously has more immediate consequences for those students only just passing in their first year, who are now failing, it indicates that this same phenomenon is occurring to the stronger students also. As such, if it is possible to counteract the effects of this slump, it may benefit students across the entire achievement spectrum.

Further analysis is to be undertaken, but these initial coarse findings confirm the presence of a slump within the program, thereby justifying a deeper look in order to lead towards a more thorough understanding of the mechanisms involved and development of strategies to combat the second year slump.


second year slump; sophomore slump; student transition; quantitative analysis

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