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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Generation Me! The Millennial Generation

Generation Me!
The Millennial Generation

-by Art Lynch

Selfish, lazy, or stressed out with new 21st century literacy and skills? Lack of respect for property and privacy, or a new aesthetic and marching to a different drummer?  Can they overcome the recession, previous generaitons unable to retire from the work force, lower paying jobs and a general change in the moral and ethical fabric of our society?

(students note that references in this posting are APA, which is the required reference source citation for the course sections I teach).

The Millennial Generation is the largest generation in history, with Baby Boomers leaving us as they age, and Millennials growing up into a significant political, economic and eventual power brokering generation. They may represent to their children the same obstacles that their parent sand grandparents represented to them, holding jobs and influencing power in ways that limit the voice of the next two generations that follow. The report below is by the author of this blog, Art Lynch, and is copyrighted. Slides are from Eastern Illinois University and other sources (web PDF). See full list of sources at the end of this paper, including additional material and sources used in graphic presentations. Sources other than graphics are indicated in APA format within the document and at the conclusion.  The chart below is from the New Politics Institute.

Click "read more" below to continue and learn more about The Millennial Generation, or to provide responses and feedback on the topic.

The Millennial Generation

This introduction is from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.
According to Neil Howe and William Strauss' Millennials Rising, the next great generation of students consists of those born after 1980 and graduating high school following the year 2000. This generation, in spite of negatively-framed predictions, has demonstrated many unique characteristics that can make them successful in the academic and economic world of the future.

These characterizations often are of the broad, sweeping generalities variety. The challenge for academics is to understand these characteristics and to translate them into specific pedagogical practices. However, this charge will take some creativity as hard data on which practices work best is slow in coming. 
These are our students; how do we reach them?

Download a copy of some ideas about translating impressions into practice. (from Lilly North presentation 9/17/2005 presentation, Who are our students) Teaching Millennial Students

Related Links

Teaching Information Literacy to Generation Y
Comprehensive bibliography on teaching Millennials

Managing and Motivating Generations
A PDF file from a course on generational differences 

Millennials Rising
The name of a book, however, the reviews offer some insights 

The Center for Generational Studies
Comprehensive consultancy with free on-line bibliographies and fee-based research and articles
Generations at work
Profiles of the millennial generation

Adult learning
30 things you need to know about adult learning

Strauss and Howe's Website on Millennials Rising

The following is by the author of this blog- Art Lynch...
Inserts are from sources indicated.

Ready or Not: Adult Education and Millennial Generation

The Millennial generation is presenting challenges and opportunities to education generally and adult education particularly. Adult education, with the growth of technology and the array of choices seems, at first glance to be particularly well matched to the needs of this rising generation, with numbers that nearly match that of Baby Boomers.

However this generation appears to have well defined expectations of education, and theories of andragogy may not necessarily be adequate to the task of meeting this generation’s needs.

Adult education has been through changes before, and should be in a position to adapt. Given the growth and professionalization of adult education, with an emphasis on standardized formats particularly in online classes (such as Web CT based curriculum's) the challenge will be keeping up with student expectations.

There was a time, which seems almost quaint now, when adult education was viewed as a specialized field, not in the mainstream of education.

Adult educators were arguably marginalized out of the Academe, and adult students were put into set categories: high school drop outs trying to get a certificate or diploma, students trying to attain vocational training, or people seeking life enrichment (Jarvis, Griffen, (2003). This was the state of things in the 1960’s.

But the culture was changing fast with the onslaught of the baby boomers, who by their sheer numbers, attitudes and aspirations shaped all aspects of social and economic life, including education. Malcolm Knowles refined a theory of androgrogy as Baby Boomers came of age. Knowles developed a theory that is compelling and seems to reflect the aspirations of this generation.

However, does the andragogy theory of Knowles and other adult education researchers still apply to the generation now coming of age, the so-called Generation Y or Millennials? Using an ecological framework, this paper will compare and contrast prior generations of adults learners with current learners, examine assumptions about Millennials, while linking principles of andragogy to the needs of this generation.

Adult Education theories have focused on the following concepts: a) student centered learning b) empowerment c) critical reflection. Building on the seminal work of Thorndike and associated scholars in the 1920’s, Knowles was able to identify effective approaches to teaching adults based on the characteristics and needs of adults. Thorndike and other educators had been influenced by the current psychology, a behavioral model, as a way to understand how people learn which was in turn influenced by science and industry. Eventually researchers began to notice that not only could adults learn, but they perhaps learn differently than children (Merriman, 2005).

Knowles identified the following characteristics of adult learning (Merriman, 2005).
1. Learning moves from dependency to self-directedness

3. Learning is linked to social roles
4. Learning changes from delayed learning to fast application and subject focus to performance.
Knowles did not look at andragogy and pedgagogy as being exclusive, but as part of a continuum. Knowles was prescient in seeing that education was changing rapidly in term of systems, delivery, and technology, seeing a time when education would not be constrained by time or place (Hiemstra & Sisco, 1990).

Jack Mezirow was interested in how learning has the power to change individuals. Mezirow looked at three domains of learning: a) task, work related b) interpersonal and interactive understanding and c) emancipatory, which is self-reflective and leading to transformation; as perspective is change meaning is changed (Merriman, 1999 and Imel, S, 1998). Stephen Brookfield was also interested in learning that induces change and critical reflection, and addressed findings that show adult cognition and social interaction and personality is dynamic, experiential, with expertise gained through practice (2005).

Baby Boomer Characteristics and Environment
At the time Knowles was researching adult education in the 1960’s and 70’s baby boomers were growing and beginning to take on adult roles. The size of this generation has generated a cottage industry among business, media, academics with a surfeit of studies, examinations, articles of the baby boomers. Hicks and Hicks covered this ground in a book that explores generational differences and influences, with an emphasis on popular culture and shared cultural values and attitudes of a generation. The Boomer generation is described by Hicks and Hicks in stark contrast to their parents, as consumerist, permissive morality, and wanting instant gratification.

Other descriptions of this generation include optimistic, process oriented, and an appreciation for convenience (Dziuban, Moskal & Hartman, ). Boomers grew up in a time of disorienting and polarizing events, with the assignation of JFK and MLK, Viet Nam War, the growth of divorce, and rise of civil rights and growth of suburbia. Communications technology continued to grow and influence life, and mass communication and technology (television, computers, fax machines) shaped this generation and overall society. This generation also came of age at a time when public education, from elementary through college was considered to be important and expected (Trow, 1999). Revealingly, a recent Pew Survey (2009) reviewed significant feelings of foreboding and disappointment among this group, which belies the image of optimism.

Education Environment
The Post War era saw robust growth and changes in American education. There was a significant increase in student enrollment in universities and colleges. The statistics from 1972 – 1982 (as Boomers came of age) are particularly telling in terms of adult education. Most of the growth was among those 25 and older, with 35 years and older with 77% and 25 to 34 a 70% increase, as compared to 35% overall increase in student enrolments. During this same period, there was also two-third increase in female students and a remarkable increase of 85% of minority students. Another telling change during this period was the change from grants to loans as a source of support. In 1975 loans were 21% of student support, by 1984 loans provided 66% support (Trow, 1999). Education became increasingly specialized, with education purpose divided between research, teaching, liberal arts and vocational studies (Rice, 1999).

During the 1960’s there federal and state level legislation ramped up funding for vocational education, benefiting both community colleges and proprietary schools (Hittman, 1999).

Socioeconomic environment
Boomers grew up in a time of prosperity and stable economic circumstances, with movement to suburban living. At this point, many families could still afford a one-income household. Later boomers (born mid-50’s to mid-60’s) experienced changes, with increase in divorce rates and mothers having to go to work (Patterson, 2007).

Technology and Learning Environment
While technology was playing an increasingly important role in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, most teaching was done in a classroom environment, and use of technology was supportive to teaching, such as slides, films, and overhead projectors. Distanced education was still mail, television or radio. As evidenced by Knowles and Mezirow’s work during this period, an important shift was beginning to taking place during this period. Barr and Tagg summarize this shift neatly: in the old paradigm, college was a place to “provide instruction”, now it was becoming a place to “produce learning”, reflecting an increasingly consumerist society.

Television was a dominant medium in lives of boomers and their parents, bringing the news into living rooms, sometimes in a shocking and graphic way (JFK assignation, Vietnam) and bringing the consumer culture to full flower. Even as events created a feeling of disorder and chaos, and some boomers (and for that matter, older adults) rebelled there remained a sense of authority, and knowledge as something that could be attained.

Millennials Characteristics and Environment

Recently there has been a spate of writing in popular and academic press about Millennials (or Generation Y). Millennials are defined as the generation born approximately 1980 to 1995, or in some resources 2002 (years vary depending on source). This is also a large cohort, at over 80 million, which matches or exceeds the size of the baby boomer generation (Pew Research 2008). It is important for adult educators (many of who are baby boomers) to consider and understand characteristics of Millennials. This generation, according to Oblinger, enjoy group activity, retain close relationships with parents, do more homework and housework and less TV watching, take pride in being smart, are attracted to technology, and are quite ethnically diverse (2003).

Some have remarked on this generation’s expectations and sense of entitlement. Being goal oriented, they are willing to accept as much help and support to achieve success (McGlynn, 2005). Once again, these summaries of generational characteristics should be viewed as summaries and do not necessarily reflect individual differences. What can be taken away from this list is an interesting combination of traditionalism (parental respect and family ties) with a comfort level with diverse technology. In fact Oblinger (2003) notes that this generation does not look at computers as “technology” but a natural part of life. Understanding this attitude may be difficult for educators who may still be trying to absorb and adapt to new technology.

As a generation, Millennials experienced such public events as the Columbine shooting, Desert Storm, and a presidential impeachment. They tend to be positive, practical, and appreciate structure and schedules as a way to copy with busy lives (Journal of College Admission).

Sweeney (2006) suggests that Millennials may have some striking personality differences with Generation X students, although the evidence is based on limited study. However, the results of a study of Northwestern Ohio College of Medicine students is interesting in terms of figuring out effective instructional strategies. This study showed that students tended to have more abstract reasoning ability, were warm, outgoing, adaptive and mature, rule conscious, more bold and adventuresome, sensitive and apprehensive, open to change and experimentation organized and self disciplined and less solitary and individualistic.

Education Environment
From a personal standpoint, Millennials have grown up in a more regulated (for safety reasons) and test oriented (NCLB) school environment. From a systems level, there has been tremendous change in education as Millennials have come of age, change which reflects an increasingly consumerist, individualized, and privatized economic philosophy as well as more choices in learning institutions. Ability or access to funding education is an increasing concern. Technology, with the growth of online education (in a hybrid or completely online format) has brought new opportunities and challenges for educators, and has enabled spectacular growth among non-traditional proprietary schools. Adult education has expanded beyond specialized vocational providers to creditable sources of advanced degrees in a range of fields.

Socioeconomic Environment
The trends that late boomers had begun to experience, with divorce and the economic requirement of a two-income household came to fruition for Millennials. For example, in 1972 three out of four children grew up in a two-parent household, by 1998 only half of children grew up in two parent households (Standfort, 2002). In spite of this, Millennials are often described as closely connected to their parents, who wield substantial influence over their decisions.

Technology and Learning Environment
The access to technology and reliance on testing, which encourages rote learning, presents both opportunities and challenges for educators. Having grown up around an array of communication technologies (such as cell phones with text messaging) these students may have a habit of multi-tasking and therefore shorter attention spans. The emphasis on testing and focus on facts may result in less critical thinking skills. These students are used to being assessed, and prefer clear goals and feedback. They have developed skills in teamwork, creating social networks (albeit electronically) and organization (Elam, Stratton, & Gibson, 2007). Some Millennials have had more sophisticated technology at home than at school, and may reasonably believe they have better grasp of technology than their parents or teachers.

They prefer learning that is oriented to groups and problem solving (Junginger, 2007). Because of technology, Millennials are used to learning in an associative, chunky, non-linier style, and are able to combine different information in new ways (rappers sampling songs is an example of this) (Dede, 2004). These students are exposed to a diverse variety of media in which to learn, and prefer visual and audio learning, with a focus on activity and achievement (Sanders, 2006).

A revealing series of focus groups by Sweeney (2006) showed that students rarely read books, write handwritten letters, communicate electronically with friends, and frequently use YouTube and other applications. Students also shared they don’t necessarily prefer online classes, and enjoy in person classes if the instruction is engaging, active and not a “boring lecture”. Some students did not like online because responses were too slow. Students expect organization and compelling engagement whether it is online or in the classroom. Many in this generation grew up in gaming and thrive on this stimulation.

Adult Education: What Now?
Adragogy has emphasized self-directed learning, critical reflection, social roles and transformation. There has been an inherent democratic quality to adragogy, which is both pragmatic (providing opportunities for adults to seek their vocation and try new ventures in life-long learning) and idealistic (you can make your dreams come true). Rooted in progressive concepts of John Dewey, truth was not archived, but something to be continually discovered (Noddings, 2007). In an era of information overload it is easy to make the case for critical thinking.

At first glance the growth in adult education, particularly through distance education programs seems to be well timed and well matched to this linked-in generation. Adult education also provides a range of choices that would appear to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population. But adult educators need to be cautious in making assumptions.

Assumption One: Millennial students prefer online education, because they are comfortable with an array of technology, so adult education should prefer to focus on this direction.

Millennials students have high expectations for a learning environment, no matter if it’s by computer or in person. They key is interactivity, whether it on computer or in class. They need the feeling of connection and feedback, and they want this quickly (Barone, N.D. and Ramaley & Zia, N.D.). While older adults have turned to distance education out of necessity Millennials often prefer interaction of groups, and the active support of instructors, which is harder to find in the less personal environment of distance education (McNelley, N.D.) This does not mean that online courses will not benefit these learners, it simply means that online courses need to stimulate and engage a generation that grew up on gaming and multi media tools.

Assumption Two: Technology is most important aspect of their lives and education.

This is a generation that feels comfortable creating their own presence on the web, with YouTube, MySpace and make use of multiple applications. Student attitudes toward technology is also important. Millennials do not look at their devices as technology unless it is something they don’t understand, i.e. cell phones are not technology, applications are activities, not technology. Technology is something that is in the background of their lives. They also expect technology to be adapted to their needs, not the other way around (Oblinger & Oblinger, N.D. and Roberts, N.D.) In essence, technology should be used effectively, appropriately, and to its maximum potential so that students can be engaged and stimulated.

Assumption Three: Millennials are passive learners who get through school by memorizing facts and taking tests.

It is true that this generation grew up with an emphasis on standards and accountability, although at the same time academic theorists were espousing the need for critical thinking. There seems to be a yawning gap between reality of what happening in primary and secondary education and the expectation that students will suddenly become critical thinkers. However, Millennials use of computer technology has turned them into experiential learners who prefer learning by doing, and often, by creating (McNelley, N.D.). This happens to fit in well with constructivist theory, and over arching goals of adult education that encourages student centered, discovery learning.
Assumption Four: Student do not respect expertise, because they are so immersed in popular culture, and easy access to information.

A sample poll of students at the University of Pittsburg says otherwise, with students wanting their professors to be passionate and knowledgeable, and also able to make good use of technology. This poll also showed that students preferred a teaching environment that evenly balanced lecture with interativity (Roberts, N.D). What this means for andragogy is that students are capable of learning multiple ways – they can direct their learning, they thrive with teamwork, and respond well to the support and knowledge of instructors.

Assumption Four: Technology leads to isolative and multi-tasking behavior and lack of interpersonal communications, Millennials are in their own technology driven world, which impairs ability to learn.
Current Internet based applications that youth use have an emphasis on social networking. While educators may judge this as being superficial from their perspective, from an andragoical perspective it is important to “start where the client is”. For reasons that may be that may be driven by rapid changes in society, in family, work, school, and growth of technology, students prefer learning that emphasizes teamwork, structure, and engagement with social connections. Moreover, interpersonal communications is not defined as “in person” and technology enhances, not interferes with communications. Text messaging is synonymous with talking (Oblinger and Oblinger, N.D. and Roberts, N.D.).

Assumption Five: Millenium students don’t read, and so can’t learn, and this creates obstacles in traditional and online classes.

Research has showed that Millenium learners (aka Net Gen) avoid large amount of texts, which is likely too passive and perceived as a time waster. Their exposure to interactive web sites (and for that matter gaming) means they respond better to text in a graphically rich environment. For andragogy, the emphasis should be on concepts, and giving Millenium students the opportunity for inductive discovery, develop hypothesis in an interactive manner that is visual and kinesthetic (Oblinger and Oblinger, N.D.).

Assumption Five: Millenium students are so much into entertainment and technology they do not care about the world around them.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, Millenium learners want to be actively engaged in their communities, and care about things that matter. A report, from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) and other sources show that while students do not necessarily trust the spin from media and politicians they are interested in working to help improve their communities. Research also shows that college makes a significant difference in youth engagement in civic affairs, with non-college student being less likely to participate in community activities (CivicYouth, 2009).This interest also fits in well with andraogical principles of transformational and action oriented learning, and for that matter effective problem solving, which ideally employs both experience and critical thinking (Brookfield, 2005).

As this demonstrates, it is important that adult educators not make superficial assumptions about Millennial students. This is not to say that these andragogical principles no longer have merit. As Millennials become adults, it is difficult to believe that they would not want to feel, in Knowles words, “accepted, respected, and supported” and that there should be a “spirit of mutuality between teachers and students as joint inquirers”, (Brookfield, p. 29, 2005). These concepts of andragogy appear to mesh well with this generations need for social connections and improvement at both the personal and community level.

Andragogy does not need to abandon principles developed by Knowles, and other theorists, but in the spirit of Millennials, to add and elaborate on this framework for understanding of how adults learn. It is a given that Millennials will someday dominate adult education as students and then teachers. Frand summarizes the views of this generation: Computers are not technology, the Internet is more important than television, reality is not always what it appears to be, that doing is preferred to knowing, learning is akin to the trial and error of a video game, multi-tasking is life, typing is a given over handwriting, responses must be immediate, and there is little distinction between creator and consumer (Oblinger, 2003).

The implication for adult education and andragogy is to build on the foundational principles of Knowles, Mezirow, Brookfield and others (including John Dewey). It is not a matter of choosing between online or in class learning, individual, self-directed learning or reliance on expertise. There is also additional challenge for adult education: to simultaneously serve the needs of multiple generations, which include many non-traditional part time students (Oblinger and Oblinger. ).

Malcolm Knowles’s principles of self-direction, experiencial learning, social roles, fast application and performance still apply, and can be easily integrated in to the needs of the Millennial generation.
Imagine a future in which learning is truly multi-dimensional and multi-functional. Far out sounding technology like virtual reality and holograms might be part of this. The Internet already shows great multi-media possibilities when done correctly (such as the National Geographic site or BBC site, which use text, photos, videos, steaming, sound). But instead of thinking of future learning as leading toward one direction, such as more tech oriented, it is probably better to view it as multidirectional, with personal and social goods. Technology and globalization have already transformed the world; learning provides the tools to respond and take a hold of this transformation.

Successful and effective adult education will need to be prepared to be flexible, interactive, creative, responsive, fast, socially engaged, adaptable, supportive, challenging and varied. Its not about the technology, its about the need to learn and understand. It’s time to refresh, reset, and retool as necessary for this potentially exciting next stage.

Characteristics of the Millennial Generation
Born between the years 1981 and 2000, their current age (2006) is 6 to 25 years old

Have always been treated as special and important.  This generation of children has been the most wanted.  Every milestone was marked with celebrations and praise.  They may carry a sense of entitlement about them and have an expectation of frequent positive feedback.  It’s been instilled in them that they are vital to the nation and to their parents’ sense of purpose.  They feel they are here to solve world problems that older generations have failed to solve.  They may claim they want privacy, but they crave attention.

Highly protected as children.  Grew up in a time of increasing safety measures (car seats, baby on board signs, school lockdowns).  They were rarely left unsupervised.  They were sheltered from having to take care of their own conflicts as parents advocated on their behalf, and “spared” them from unpleasant experiences.  As college students, they may expect faculty and staff to shelter, protect, and nurture them – and resolve their conflicts for them.  Millennials are the focus of the most sweeping youth safety movement in American history.

They are motivated, goal-oriented, and confident in themselves and the future.  They expect college to help launch them to greatness.   They may brag about their generation’s power and potential.  They have high levels of optimism and they feel connected to their parents.  They are assertive and believe they are “right”.  In Canada the Millennial generation is called the “Sunshine” generation.

They are group oriented rather than being individualists.  They may sacrifice their own identity to be part of the team. They prefer egalitarian leadership, not hierarchies.  They are forming a tight-knit generation.  While they are group-oriented within their own cohort, they may “politely” exclude other generations.  They do not want to stand out among their peers, they want to be seen as part of the group.  They dislike selfishness and are oriented toward service learning and volunteerism.   

Grade points are rising with this generation and crime is falling.  The focus on getting good grades, hard work, involvement in extracurricular activities, etc. is resulting in higher achievement levels. They see college as the key to a high paying job and success, and may miss the bigger picture of what a college education is all about.  They are pressured to decide early on a career – and have been put on a career track orientation since grade school.  Their focus is more on the world of achievement rather than personal development.  The Boomer generation made their mark in the humanities and arts, whereas the Millennials prefer math and science fields.

Tightly scheduled as children and used to having every hour of their day filled with structured activity.
This generation may have lost a sense of pure spontaneous play.  They may struggle with handling free time and time management in general.  In elementary, middle, and high school,  have had more hours of homework and less free time than any of the previous generations.  They feel pressured to succeed.  They’ve been pushed hard to achieve, to avoid risks, and to take advantage of opportunities.  They may take on too much, and then think others should be flexible with them when they want to negotiate scheduling conflicts. They think multi-tasking saves time and is a smart thing to do, but aren’t usually aware of the poorer quality of results.

Respectful to the point of not questioning authority.  They are civic-minded and believe the government knows what’s best and will take care of them.  They fear being considered non-conformist.  Their clothing, music, and cultural markings will be very mainstream.  They value their parents’ opinions very highly.  They support and believe in social rules, and are more in line with their parents’ values than most other generations have been.  They are trying to invite rules and norms back into the culture.

Resource:  Millennials Go To College (2003) by Neil Howe and William Strauss.  Website:

Below is from Generational Learning Styles by Julie Coates.
Published by LERN Books, a division of Learning Resources Network (LERN), 2007.

As our discussions of the different generations goes forth, please keep in mind that every individual is different. That does not mean, however, that it is impossible for people with certain shared cultural experiences to develop similar sets of behaviors and outlooks. As much as we are individuals, we also share much in common with our peers. Thus, if we assert that Baby Boomers are avid learners, it does not mean that every Baby Boomer is an avid learner. We all know individuals who are Baby Boomers and who are not at all interested in pursuing additional learning opportunities. Likewise, if we say that Millennials are more likely to have good manners than Gen Xers, it does not meant that all Millennials are polite or that all Gen Xers are rude. It simply means that certain behaviors are more typical of each group than of others. The point is raised because you should not become frustrated when, for the purposes of discussion, certain broad characteristics are made. This is unavoidable, and you must realize that the broad statements are based on behaviors that have been analyzed and measured for statistically significant presence among population groups. Generation Y, born between 1976-1995 or 1988-2001 depending on the source, is vastly different from previous generations - especially Boomers. Members of Gen Y cut their teeth on computer keyboards, and to them, computer technology and the Internet are as natural as breathing. This generation's members know more about digital technology than their parents or teachers, and this promises to change not only the way families interact and communicate, but also how young people relate to school and learning.
Generation Y combines the can-do attitude of Veterans, the teamwork ethic of Boomers and the technological savvy of Generation X. For this group, the preferred learning environment combines teamwork and technology. In a classroom with lots of Gen Y's, give everyone a task. When a few have completed it, encourage them to walk around the room and help others. They're used to working this way in school.
Generation Y is the most diverse generation in history. Members are born to the most diverse mix of parents in history as well - from teenagers to middle-aged moms who postponed childbearing to establish a career - from Boomers to Xers. One third of this generation was born to single, unwed mothers. This generation is less white and more brown than any generation in our history, too.
Many of the parents of Gen Y's are mid-life Boomers, used to winning and achieving. Gen Y members have come to age in a very child-focused world. Many of them had Boomers as parents, and Boomers are as competitive for their children as they were for themselves. Boomers are used to getting their own way, and they have been strong advocates for their children. Because Boomers have worked long hours, because of many single parent families, because of an increasing violent world and because of the desire for their children to "get ahead," Boomers have made sure their children participated in all forms of lessons and activities. Thus, Gen Y has grown up in a very structure, busy and over planned world. Also, Gen Y is made up of confident, optimistic young people who feel valued and wanted.
Here are some of the characteristics identified for Generation Y:
  1. Closer relationship with parents.
  2. Admiration for their parents (33% names one or both parents as their hero, rather than a pop culture celebrity).
  3. A closer sphere of influence - a more dangerous world has created an environment which is more sheltered and structured, and where young people have been protected.
  4. The small sphere of influence has contributed to the creation of a generation that is, in general, more polite and considerate than their predecessors. They are less likely to call adults by their first names, but rather use the more formal Mr. or Mrs.
  5. Attentive and respectful. This generation has been brought up to show respect for others. In a crowded world where there are larger numbers of people in classroom and activities, civility becomes essential to getting along.
  6. Programmed and team oriented. Some college administrators believe that many Gen Y's have "lost the sense of pure play." They expect everything to be planned for them and do not expect to have as much freedom - or responsibility for structuring their educational lives.
  7. Having spent a large percentage of time in structured activities, they are accustomed to having a lot of adult supervision. Thus, they may have poor conflict resolution skills.
  8. Pressured to succeed. The Boomers, parents of the Gen Y generation, pressured themselves to succeed and also transferred that pressure to their children. In addition, just as Boomers have lived in a world where there is increasing competition for resources, Gen Y has done the same.
  9. Involved. This is a generation of activists - young people who believe they can make a difference.
  10. Egalitarian. This cohort often prefers to work in teams or groups. They definitely do not prefer hierarchy. Sometimes faculty finds the lack of authoritarian hierarchy in their groups creates ambiguity when it comes to having a point of contact for information.
  11. Open and eager. Member of Gen Y are very open and eager. Student are responsive and "very smart" according to some faculty.
  12. Demanding of themselves and others. Members of this cohort set the bar high for themselves and they, like their Boomer parents, expect success. They sometimes "expect" to get good grades and are upset when this does not happen.
  13. Stressed. Compared with five years ago, 81% of college mental health service directors reported an increase in students with serious psychological problems. Pressure to succeed is one reason identified by some counselors.
  14. Multi-taskers. This generation can easily manage to listen to music, work on the computer and watch television at the same time. This means they need a lot of stimulation in their learning environments and may be more focused than it seems to their teachers.
  15. Socially conscious. There has been a resurgence of interest in politics and social issues. Administrators at Colgate University reported that 70% of first-year students came to campus already registered to vote. Some 93% indicated that they voted in the 2004 presidential election.
Here are some shared experiences of Generation Y
  1. Child focus (Sylvan Learning Centers)
  2. Oklahoma City bombing
  3. Busy, over-planned lives (more than 75% of time spent in structured experiences)
  4. Stress
  5. Malfunction at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant caused a near meltdown
  6. Iranian students took 66 people hostage at the US Embassy in Tehran
  7. US boycotts the Olympics in Moscow
  8. President Regan shot
  9. The Equal Rights Amendment passed (though not ratified)
  10. The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board
  11. The Exxon Valdez spills more than ten million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound
  12. The Berlin Wall demolished
  13. Persian Gulf War
  14. Four white police officers accused of beating Rodney King were acquitted; shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado left 13 students and one teacher dead; the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 for the first time
  15. It took more than a month to declare a winner of the presidential election because of ballot ("hanging chad") disputes
  16. Four US planes were hijacked in attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing more that 3000 people leading the US into an ongoing fight against terrorism
  17. The Space Shuttle Columbia exploded upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts on board.
  18. War is waged against Afghanistan and Iraq
Here are some additional characteristics of Generation Y
  1. Bigger than Baby Boomer Generation
  2. 3 times the size of Generation X
  3. Roughly 26% of the population
  4. Diverse
  5. Inclusive
  6. Powerful
  7. Weak on interpersonal skills
  8. Cyber
  9. Activists
  10. Support social causes
  11. Impatient
  12. Active/hands-on learners
  13. Use technology
  14. Spending power exceeds $200 billion
  15. Independent
  16. Strong views
  17. Close to family
Here is Beloit College's Mindset List for the Class of 2008
  1. Most students entering college this fall were born in 1986.
  2. Desi Arnaz, Orson Welles, Ray Orbison, Ted Bundy, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Cary Grant have always been dead.
  3. "Heeeeere's Johnny!" is a scary greeting from Jack Nicholson, not a warm welcome from Ed McMahon.
  4. The Energizer bunny has always been going, and going, and going.
  5. Large fine-print ads for prescription drugs have always appeared in magazines.
  6. Photographs have always been processed in an hour and less.
  7. The never got a chance to drink 7-Up Gold, Crystal Pepsi, or Apple Slice.
  8. Baby Jessica could be a classmate.
  9. Parents may have been reading "The Bourne Supremacy" or "It" as they rocked them in their cradles.
  10. Alan Greenspan has always been setting the nation's financial direction.
  11. The US has always been the Prozac nation.
  12. They have always enjoyed the comfort of pleather.
  13. Harry has always known Sally.
  14. The never saw Roseanne Roseannadanna live on Saturday Night Live.
  15. There has always been a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
  16. They never ate a McSub at McDonalds.
  17. There has always been a Comedy Channel.
  18. Bill and Ted have always been on an excellent adventure.
  19. They never have been tempted by smokeless cigarettes.
  20. Robert Downey, Jr. has always been in trouble.
  21. Martha Stewart has always been cooking up something with someone.
  22. They have always been comfortable with gay characters on television.
  23. Mike Tyson has always been a contender.
  24. The government has always been proposing we go to Mars, and it has always been deemed too expensive.
  25. There have never been any Playboy Clubs.
  26. There have always been night games at Wrigley Field.
  27. Rogaine has always been available for the follically challenged.
  28. They never saw USA Today or the Christian Science Monitor as a TV news program.
  29. Computers have always suffered from viruses.
  30. Politicians have always used rock music for theme songs.
  31. Network television has always struggled to keep up with cable.
  32. O'Hare has always been the most delay-plagued airport in the US.
  33. Ivan Boesky has never sold stock.
  34. Toll-free 800 phone number have always spelled out catchy phrases.
  35. Bethlehem has never been a place of peace at Christmas.
  36. Episcopal women bishops have always threatened the foundation of the Anglican Church.
  37. Svelte Oprah has always dominated afternoon television; who was Phil Donahue anyway?
  38. The never flew on People Express.
  39. AZT has always been used to treat AIDS.
  40. The international community has always been installing or removing the leader of Haiti.
  41. Oliver North has always been a talk show host and news commentator.
  42. The have suffered through airport security systems since they were in strollers.
  43. They have done most of their search for the right college online.
  44. Aspirin has always been used to reduce the risk of a heart attack.
  45. They were spared the TV ads for Zamfir and his panpipes.
  46. Castro has always been an aging politician in a suit.
  47. There have always been non-stop flights around the world without refueling.
  48. Cher hasn't aged a day.
  49. M.A.S.H. was a game: Mansion, Apartment, Shelter, House.
And finally, Generation Y in the classroom
While boomers like to be in charge of their own learning and the Generation Xers prefer to work independently with self-directed projects, Generation Y prefers learning that provides interaction with their colleagues. They like a lot more structure and direction than Generation X. The want to know everything up front as far as what is expected and what criteria will be used to evaluate their performance. They are the most likely to want to ask questions like, "Will this be on the test?" or specifics such as "how is this going to affect my life in a positive way?" Certainty and security is key for this group. Tying the leaning outcomes to economic objectives is important for Generation Y's. This generation is as comfortable with technology as a fish is with water. In spite of their technology savvy, Generation Y is in some ways very traditional. Members of Generation Y are motivated to learn in order to reduce stress and increase their marketability. They place high value on developing good interpersonal skills and in "getting along." This is a generation that is polite, believes in manners, adheres to strict moral code, and believes in civic action. This is a generation that places a high value on making money - more than any previous generation - and they see education as a means to this goal. Like Generation X, this generation likes learning to be entertaining and fun, and become quickly bored in a learning environment that is not highly active and interactive. They grew up with the Learning Channel and Chuck E. Cheese - edu-tainment and eat-o-tainment. Stand-up talking is deadly for this group who, even as adults, respond to music, art, games, and other creative activities. Leaning materials for this group should have the same levels of value interest and multiple focal points as those of Generation X. However, there is an important difference in Generation Y in this regard. It is a generation of readers, so written information works well with this group.

Tips for Teaching Generation Y
Some experts have asserted, "there is a growing mismatch between faculty and students in terms of teaching and learning."
  1. Develop opportunities for experiential learning. Small group discussions, projects, in-class presentations and debates, peer critiques, team projects, service learning, field experiences, developing simulations and case method approaches have been found to be successful for high school and college Generation Y students.
  2. Encourage the development of learning communities - small groups of students that can discuss and analyze readings and assignments. This also addresses the need of many Generation Y students for hands-on activities in the classroom.
  3. Provide lots of structure. Having grown up in a highly structured world, Generation Y look for structure in their learning setting. They want to know precisely what is required of them, when work is due, and very specific information about expectations.
  4. Provide lots of feedback. Providing frequent feedback is essential for Generations Y's. This allows them to know when they are headed in the right direction and when they are getting off-track. Frequent attention from teachers is welcome.
  5. Use technology. This is a generation that uses technology for "everything." A classroom that does not incorporate it will not meet students' needs for variety, stimulation, and access to information. Some classrooms still require students to study and learn in ways that, to them, are completely different from the ways they operate in every other aspect of their daily lives.
  6. Make it fun. Like their Generation X predecessors, Generation Y's want to enjoy their learning. If it is not fun, it will be cast into the category of "boring" and may become less effective. Millennials learn best when they are entertained.
  7. Incorporate games. For Generational Y, using computers games as a instructional technique can be very effective. These incorporate many of the strategies that Generation Y's have already developed for learning: multi-media sensory stimulation, interactive (either with other people or with the computer), individualization (customization) of the learning experience, control over processing time, highly visual.
  8. Be relevant. Like Generation Xers, Generation Y's will demand relevance in what they are learning. This will also want to "skip" steps in learning if there are areas of the information that have already mastered, and will avoid repetition and rote practice once they feel they have mastered the information.
  9. Utilize their talents. This is a generation that likes to be useful and helpful. If you have students who know more about a topic than you do, let them talk about what they know. If they finish an assignment early, let them help other students.
  10. Present the big picture. Many in this generation are global or "big picture" learners. They learn better if they have the big picture and then learn more concrete and specific information.
  11. Allow for creativity and be creative. This is a generation that thinks in many dimensions at once. Provide opportunities for them to be creative in how they approach and fulfill requirements. Music, art, and games are good teaching tools.
  12. Offer multiple options for performance. Try to provide a variety of acceptable, measurable outcomes so that students can optimize their performance.
  13. Be visual. This group is the most visual of all learning cohorts. In general, visual learners predominate, but among Generation Y learners it is even more strongly preferred than in other age groups.
  14. Be organized. Because they need a lot of structure, Generation Y students also learn best when materials are presented in a well-organized and rational way. Generation Y students are much more prolific readers than Generation Xers, so reading materials for them are not a stumbling block. However, materials should be clear, use lots of white space, and be visually accessible, just as for Generation X. Summarizing key points is very important for this group. They want to know where they are going with their learning - and why.
  15. Be smart. Unlike Generation Xers, Generation Y's will not look at you with disdain if they feel they know more than you about a specific topic. However, they will expect you to be open to hearing their ideas and to demonstrate competence as a teacher. To this generation being "a good teacher" is more important than knowing everything.
  16. Be fair. Like their Boomer parents, fairness is important to this group.
  17. Recognize the need for social interaction. This is a key for Generation Y learners, so learning strategies that incorporate social interaction work well.
  18. Remember, talk is essential. Develop activities that encourage students to exchange information verbally. When they say it, it is converted more quickly to long-term memory.
  19. Structure a learning environment that demands respect and positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement, from teachers and peers improved learning and increases motivation.
  20. Tie learning to actions. For some key information, students can increase their recall if there is a specific action linked to their learning of a key fact. For example, if you want students to remember the date of the Norman invasion, then you give them the information, the year 1066, have then hold up 10 fingers and then 6 fingers. The information will stay with them forever.
  21. Think positively. Positive thinking stimulates the brain. It increases the likelihood of success.
  22. Be clear and precise. Give students clear goals, targets and purpose. Generation Y's particularly want to know precisely what they need to do meet the requirements of the class. This in not a lack of intellectual curiosity, but a desire to be efficient. Keep in mind that these students have been exposed to more information in their lives than the two preceding generations combined. They know a lot. For them, school is one of the many ways to get information, and they are used to getting what they need or want in ways that are efficient for them.
  23. Allow focus time. The Generations Y attention span declines after 15-20 minutes. You have you student's brain for only 20 minutes at a time. Break up the class time into 20-30 minute segments with some kind of activity (outbursts, e.g.).
  24. Talk is critical. Talking stimulates the brain, in particular, the frontal lobe, the area which controls higher-level thinking and decision-making. Social interaction is important to memory and learning.
  25. Enhance procedural memory with movement. Procedural memory is stored in the body - it is muscle memory. Riding a bike is an example of procedural memory. Procedural memory is easy to access. Relating procedural memory to cognitive tasks can improve recall.
  26. Make learning relevant. Tie learning tasks to real-world problems. If it is not seen as relevant, there will be resistance to learning.
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First posted 6-20-2009


kanitthanant said...

From reading this article; it has made me look back at myself and analyzed my way of learning, and my own characterlistic. The characterlistics and socioeconomic that was mentioned in the article are not much different than my own experience. Although there are some evidence that are unrelated to me. I find myself being isolated and, not as much as a team player.It's very difficult to keep up with my peers;it might be because of the different culture. And as for my uncles and aunts (baby boomer generation)misbelieve in the college and adult education they preferred the University education instead. Now I know it was because of the social influence of life and the andragogy.

Berenice said...