Breakout Session

Are we ready for Generation Z? New Strategies for a New Generation of College Students

Track:  Engaging Students and Faculty

Friday, November 30th, 9:20am – 10:15am

The two current student-aged generations, Generation Y (the Millennials) and Generation Z come with a lot of preparation for technologically-based activities. “Digital natives,” they know how to use social networking and find academic technology easy to master.  However, they are not used to applying technology to academics, nor do they typically have the attention span, the academic discipline, or the competitive nature of their predecessors (Baby Boomers and  Generation X:  their faculty and parents).  This session will introduce some new issues facing faculty who interact with these students and strategies for drawing them out of their conformity to generational stereotypes.


Susannah Chewning,
Union County College

Bio / Expertise:
As Coordinator of College Success at Union County College I have worked for ten years to develop engaging activities and pedagogy to reach students and encourage them to learn actively.  I have also presented at many conferences on this topic and others, as well as in my primary field, which is English literature.


Presentation Content:

Outline of Presentation:

1. Brief Lecture: Introduction to the topic of social generations and how they have differed since 1901 (birth of the “Greatest Generation”); Technology, learning, and education from 1901 to 2011.
2. Think, Pair, Share: Nine question survey – pairs will ideally be from different generations
3. Power Point: larger survey results (“Greatest/Silent,” Baby Boomers, Generations X, Y, and Z) using the same nine questions (plus some additional data).
4. Whole Group Discussion: some trends in learning and education among the last three generations – differences in college students in 1981 vs. 2011.
5. Brief Lecture: Get Ready for Generation Z: how the new generation, arriving in college in about 2014, will differ from what we’ve seen among the Millennials.
6. Strategies for reaching these students: innovative practices, both electronic and traditional, that meet them where they live.
7. Think, Pair, Share: Talk about expectations, anxieties about the upcoming generation; how college will change for them (and for us); brainstorm ways to engage them.

The background for the presentation is my own research, a survey I have conducted (and will continue to conduct between now and November) of people of all ages and backgrounds, and a need I sense in among college faculty that the current generation has stretched our intellectual resources, but that the next generation may be even more challenging.

I don’t know how to answer the outcome question; this is a presentation, not an experiment.  But I did conduct a survey, and it has been extremely successful.  Part of the survey is giving the audience results; the other part is sharing resources and strategies for teaching this new generation of students.

Attendees will take with them a better understanding of how the different generations developed, grew from their own situation and that of their predecessors, and experienced their education, allowing us to see how this new generation is developing and adapting to its environment.  Attendees will leave with practical solutions and resources for teaching and interacting with members of Generation Z.


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