Teaching Generation Z

I have the Maximizer strength and get energy when transforming something strong into something superb, including my students. Making students superb requires research and a strategic plan. My research led me to an investigation on my audience, also called iGen or True Gen. What I have learned has helped me come up with a strategic plan for conducting my public speaking class.

College is a Means to an End

Generation Z students “make decisions and relate to institutions in a highly analytical and pragmatic way.” (Palamarchuk, 2019) This includes the decisions they make about college. “They consider college a means to an end: the gateway to their future careers and a process that they must follow in order to meet future goals.” (LendKey, 2018) Because they have lived through the effects of 9/11, the housing crash, the automotive industry bailout, and increased college tuitions, iGens are concerned about their future and will make analytical decisions about college. They will choose a college that will give them the practical experience that they can use in their careers. Knowing this, I am deliberate in explaining how the students can use the concepts from my course in their careers and they become more interested and engaged in the content.

Beliefs and Concerns

Gen Z students have a lot of concerns that stem from living during a time of school violence, constant war, identity theft, and the cost of higher education. They are also concerned about other people. These concerns influence their beliefs. “The majority of Generation Z students hold the belief that each individual is unique, and therefore, they demand administrators to pay attention to individual differences, respect to their personal rights and private space.” (Halisdemir, 2019)  One study said Gen Z students search for truth, value individual expression and avoid labels; therefore they “They mobilize themselves for a variety of causes and believe profoundly in the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world.” (Palamarchuk, 2019) Knowing this, I can engage students by encouraging them to write papers, read articles or deliver speeches on topics that align with their concerns and beliefs.

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Communication and Technology

As you are well aware, the lives of Gen Z students have been shaped by technology. “Generation Z is comfortable with technology in the classroom–in fact, they expect it, and they have a pretty good idea of how using that technology can help make their lives easier.” (LendKey, 2019)

Therefore, it is reasonable to them to expect on-demand access to all information at any time. As a technologist, I appreciate that; but as someone from the Gen X era, I also appreciate work/life balance. I try to meet my student’s need to communicate with me using the technology I thought they liked most by giving them my cell phone number so they can text me.  I was outraged to find students sending me messages in Facebook with questions about schoolwork! “Generation Z students expect administrators to be young so that they can understand, identify and communicate with them appropriately.” (Halisdemir, 2019). I believe communication is the key to student success.  I also believe that both the sender and the receiver are both responsible for the transfer of messages. Like it or not, the True Gen is the future and their expectations of communication will be the norm. This is why I am working on adapting my mindset to be able to communicate with them using technology better. Not only do we need to provide feedback to students so they can improve, but we need to receive feedback from them so we can improve. We can also help students use technology to communicate more clearly and affectively. “When developing curricula, skills to stress will likely include linkage of concepts, framing of questions, vetting of online content, and etiquette related to both providing and receiving feedback.” (Talmon, 2019)

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The more research I do on Generation Z, the more impressed I am.  We have the honor and the responsibility to impact our future when educating these True Gen students.

~Jackie Hughes, Coordinator of Instructional Technology

Resources

Cetin, M., & Halisdemir, M. (2019). School Administrators and Generation Z Students’ Perspectives for a Better Educational Setting. Journal of Education and Training Studies, 7(2), 84-97.

LendKey. (2018, May 29). Generation Z Goes to College: How They Compare to Previous Generations. Retrieved from https://www.lendkey.com/blog/paying-for-school/generation-z-goes-to-college-how-they-compare-to-previous-generations/.

Palamarchuk, V. (2019). Attitudes to socialization and education: millennials vs generation Z.

Seemiller, C., & Grace, M. (2016). Generation Z goes to college. John Wiley & Sons.

Talmon, G. A. (2019). Generation Z: What’s Next? Medical Science Educator, 1-3.

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