A No Cap Vibe Check on GenZ Learners

From an educator’s point of view (POV), I have been shocked so many times on how the behavior of Gen Z learners of today has impacted the classroom. So many studies have revealed that GenZ learners present a unique set of challenges in academics. But, no question, this woke age group generally acquires traits that every teacher needs to understand and adapt. 

This generation was born after 1997 and is referred to as: the iGeneration, post-millennial, and digital natives. If we are in the education field and we are not meeting their needs, then it might be the best time to reflect on our teaching methods. Obviously, what may have worked in the past might no longer be applicable today. So let us start by finding out how this generation behaves in terms of learning. Each generation has a unique set of characteristics, and by learning about them, we could better understand and see how we can manage to deal with them without losing our sanity – BIG TIME. 

Who are these GenZ learners?

Here is a compilation of their attributes as learners from various reports and studies. To summarize, they are BASIC.

B – Born with technology. The GenZs are the first generation raised with technology. Although they learn new technology quickly, we cannot assume that they know how to do everything. For example, most of them did not go through formal classes to use the keyboard or even learn a computer application. So, when we introduce new computer technologies for instructional purposes, it is crucial to dedicate time to teaching them how to use a specific platform. 

Educators must develop activities that are meaningfully related to the course. Of course, this goes without saying that teachers are expected to become more skilled in different types of tools, programs, and applications. In addition, Gen Z learners are virtual gamers – they love gamified challenges. By incorporating games in the lecture, students can effectively review material and allow them to share knowledge, too

A – Await immediate feedback. Having been constantly updated through newsfeeds and expecting only the most relevant information, Gen Zs tend not to have much patience to wait because of the instant gratification brought about by social media and accessibility to the internet. 

When students submit an assignment in the classroom, they cannot always understand why it has not been graded immediately (even if they submitted it weeks late). Teachers can manage this by setting boundaries and communicating with them. Perhaps, explain upfront why teachers are not always online and may not be able to respond to messages right away. Sometimes these learners forget that their teachers handle hundreds of students (apart from managing their personal life and household).

S – Short Attention Span. According to Kris Boger, Tiktok Europe’s Head of Product Marketing, the production of short-form videos has become prevalent for people who are busy. They have shorter attention spans and want instant information. Such videos have been increasingly popular with GenZs to keep them entertained. Along with the need for rationalizing, the teacher’s instruction needs to reflect this. Translate to education, GenZ learners prefer to answer short online exams. Further, they learn best with variety. Therefore, teachers can consider delivering instructions in different formats.

I – Inclusive. Studies show that Gen Zs value online communities for they allow people from varying backgrounds to connect and move around similar interests and advocacies. It was reported that compared to 25% of millennials, 35% of Gen Zs would know someone who prefers to be addressed using a pronoun that is gender-neutral. Such a case implies that Gen Z learners need an inclusive and diverse curriculum without stereotypes and bias.

In addition, according to Rothman (2018), GenZs prefer to have small groups where they can foster more creativity. Academics can incorporate culturally diverse literature to help learners relate more to the material and cultivate cross-cultural understanding. By trying to understand other cultures, educators can understand how the diversity of students can make students reflect on how they see themselves and the world around them.

C – Constantly Online. The increased exposure to social media indicates that GenZs have a lot on their minds. Google, Facebook, and Instagram have turned out not just as convenient tools but have become life necessities. This generation anticipates being connected to the world and information easily at any given time. 

However, such exposure has caused problems, such as the likelihood of lack of adequate sleep and cyberbullying, linked to increased suicide and depression rates. In addition, a 2018 study found that 45% of adolescents reported that they were online “almost constantly.” Therefore, it makes sense that Gen Z is marked by an uptick in anxiety and depression and is likely to report mental health concerns. Because of this, it is a probability that a classroom encounters a student with a mental concern.

There are strategies that educators can focus on empowering students without canceling the idea that bad behavior must not go unaddressed. Meanwhile, techniques can be used that focus on positivity. There is a need for both social and emotional learning that allows learners to regulate their emotions and cope with their challenges. One way could be by rewarding their engagements with verbal praises.   

Every generation of learners brings changes to teaching and learning methods. The academe is expected to continually enhance its instructional methods to respond to our learners’ interests, challenges, and goals in the dynamic teaching world. As educators, we want the best for every learner because we want them to prepare for the real world.  Such reality may include extending deadlines, consenting to retakes, citing resources on assessments, chasing their passions, and presenting students with an academic break—your call. Period.

References:

Boger, K. (2020, October 20). The rise of short-form video & the Gen Z social revolution. IAB UK. https://www.iabuk.com/opinions/rise-short-form-video-gen-z-social-revolution

Defining generations: Where millennials end and Generation Z begins. (2021, May 29). Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/17/where-millennials-end-and-generation-z-begins/

Generation Z: Re-thinking teaching and learning strategies. (2020, April 24). Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning. https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/generation-z-re-thinking-teaching-and-learning-strategies/

‘True Gen’: Generation Z and its implications for companies. (2018, November 12). McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/consumer-packaged-goods/our-insights/true-gen-generation-z-and-its-implications-for-companies

University of Massachusetts Global. (2020, May 4). Teaching digital natives: Tips for teaching Generation Z students. www.brandman.edu. https://www.umassglobal.edu/news-and-events/blog/generation-z-traits-teachers-need-to-adapt-to

What you need to understand about Generation Z students. (2021, January 4). The Art of Education University. https://theartofeducation.edu/2020/12/14/what-you-need-to-understand-about-generation-z-students/

About Cloud Nine College (CNC)

Cloud Nine College is a premier vocational (Co-Op) college offering a range of specialized co-op courses and comprehensive Intensive English Programs, including test preparation courses for IELTS and general and business ESL courses to international students. It coordinates its programs uniquely in such ways that students can advance their education to the next level at universities and job opportunities.

CNC is also an online education platform offering online certificate, diploma, higher diploma, and postgraduate diploma programs progressing to online and offline undergraduate and postgraduate degrees awarded by various educational institutions and universities around the world

Cloud Nine College started as a language training institution back in 2010 and now has expanded into providing career training programs:

  • Hotel and Restaurant Management Co-op Diploma
  • Hotel and Restaurant Management Co-op Certificate
  • International Trade and Business Management Co-op Diploma
  • Professional Sales Co-op Certificate

Statement of purpose

The mission of the Cloud Nine College is to assist students in defining and acquiring a comprehensive set of career training and English language skills that meet their objectives and help create meaningful pathways to and opportunities in their personal, educational, and commercial endeavors.

Learn more about CNC at www.cloudninecollege.com/

michelle

michelle