How Today’s Students Are Different Than Those Who Went Before - (This Is Not Your Father’s Classroom) Terri M. Manning, Ed.D. Central Piedmont Community College
Each Generation • Consists of approximately a 20-year span (not all demographers and generation researchers agree on the exact start/stop dates) • Has a unique set of values • Reacts to the generation before them • Looks at their generation as the standard of comparison • Looks at the next generation skeptically “these kids today…” • Those born on the “cusp” may have a blended set of characteristics • They are either idealistic, reactive, civic or adaptive
The Veterans (also known as the Silent Generation or the Greatest Generation) 1925–1942 (adaptive) • Some faculty and few students (age 67-84ish) • Children of the Great Depression and WWII, this generation decided not to attack the institutions created by the generation before them, but instead, as global thinkers, they chose to focus on improving and refining them so that they could be good for everyone, not just a select few. • The overall goal was not to change the system, but to work within it. • While economically very successful, they were also the inventors of "the midlife crises" probably because they didn't get a chance to enjoy the freedoms of their youth.
The Veterans Childhood • Raised by the GI Generation (civic) • Large families (3-5 children) • Strong sense of extended family (same town or home) • Grandparents in the home • Average 10-year-old spent 4-6 hours daily with a significant adult role model • Rural society • Apprenticeship businesses and farming • Perception of the world as “safe” • Core Values • Dedication • Hard Work • Conformity • Law and Order • Patience • Delayed Reward • Duty before Pleasure • Adherence to Rules • Honor
How They Learn • New is not necessarily better • Not innovative with new ideas • Like structure, schedules and procedures • Brain processes new ideas into old mental framework • Some refuse to work with technology (too overwhelming a learning curve, others jump in) • Want clear expectations and guidelines • Must memorize the basics
School Experiences for Veterans • Hard work • Respected their elders • Children were to be seen and not heard • Felt an obligation to make the grade • Performance based on individual ability • Little feedback unless negative • More intrinsic reward for good performance • Learned from history (other’s experiences) • Small class size, one curriculum for all • No special ed (students no where in sight) • Virtually never tested with standardized tests – less comparison to others
College Experiences • Lucky to be there – few able to attend until the GI Bill then campuses and centers opened all over the place – more competition • Traditional teaching/learning environment • Associate new learning with previous learning • Sequencing of knowledge and skills • Education is a process – must memorize the basics • Seek to become content experts • Faculty = “sage on a stage” • Experience of mentors is relevant • Take time to really understand material • Taught by processing through formulas – have to understand why things work – not that they “just do”
Values of Faculty/Staff in this Age Group • Loyal to employer (company man) and expect the same in return • Believe they should be rewarded for tenure • Work ethic = efficiency and hard work • Stable, thorough and detail oriented • Don’t buck the system but work within it • Uncomfortable with conflict and disagreements • Not change oriented
Veterans Came Home from World War II • And gave birth to the next generation • The Baby Boomers 1943–1964 (the largest generation, idealist)
The Babyboomer Childhood • Divorce reached a low in 1960 of 9% • Families moved due to GI Bill, GI housing • and industrialization • First generation to live miles from • extended family • Family size smaller (2-3 children) • Few grandparents in the home • Moms stayed home – no daycare • Children spent significant time with • adult role models (mostly mom) • Perception of the world as “safe” Core Values Optimism Team Orientation Personal Gratification Health and Wellness Personal Growth Youth Work Involvement
Baby-boomer Results • Very idealistic - banned together and walked through life with their fists held high • Generation gap occurred between them and their parents • Captured phrases like “why be normal” and “question authority” • They weren’t friendly toward authority figures • Did not get along with their parents and swore they would not raise their kids like they were raised
How Boomers Learn • Want things to fit into the “big picture” • Want recognition for how well they have done • Team oriented, work well in groups • Like to explore and analyze, look at different views • Follow instructions well • Good with content
Boomer’s Educational Experiences • Overwhelmed the school system, large class sizes • Ability grouped (red birds and blue birds) • Question authority but respect position • See life as an adventure (and school) • Emphasis on team work (cohort education) • Need silence to concentrate • Were told “you are lucky to be here, others are standing in line to get in.” • Want to feel valued • No special ed students in school but honors courses in a few subjects • Rarely tested and not for school performance (PSAT, SAT)
College Experiences • Attending more common – boom in 60’s and 70’s • College campuses a reflection of turbulent times – faculty often rebels – Kent State Massacre, etc. • Emphasis on self-exploration, mind expansion, lots of philosophizing in classes - content over-explained and over-analyzed – deep thinkers (not necessarily critical thinkers) • Aspire to intellectualism • Some career emphasis but still heavy general education and classics-based • Left home and never looked back • Emphasis on memorization and skill built upon skill • Taught by process and to be content experts • No technology – print by mimeograph machines
Boomer Faculty/Staff Values • Majority of faculty and significant number of students (age 45-66ish) • Always share personal experience – “what has happened to me is relevant to you” • Value stability and respect • Like to see their successes • Tend to “workaholism” and have difficulty balancing their lives, working 40 hours is “slack.” • Are competitive • See themselves as the standard of comparison • Appreciate technology because of how easy it makes their work – still fear they might “break it” and may have a “back-up plan”
Boomers at Work • Ethic = long hours show commitment • Team oriented and relationship builders (don’t like conflict – can’t we all just get along) • Not budget minded • Sensitive to feedback
The Late Veterans and Early Boomers Gave Birth to the Next Generation • The Gen Xers 1965–1982 • A Lost Generation… A Nomadic Generation….. • Half the Size of the Baby Boom (reactive)
The Gen X Childhood • Divorce reached an all-time high • Single-parent families became the norm • Latch-key kids were a major issue of the time • Children not as valued – looked at as a hardship • Families spread out (miles apart) • Family size = 1.7 children (many only-children) • Perception of the world as “unsafe” • Average 10 year old spent 14 ½ minutes a day with a significant adult role model • Parents looked around and said – we need to do this better • Core Values • Dedication • Hard Work • Conformity • Law and Order • Patience • Delayed reward • Duty before pleasure • Adherence to rules • Honor
Generation X • This is the conscientious, extremely pragmatic, self-sufficient generation that has a ruthless focus on the bottom-line. • Born and raised at a time when children were at the bottom of our social priorities, Gen Xers learned that they could only count on one thing - themselves. As a result, they are very "me" oriented. • They are not active voters, nor are they deeply involved in politics in general. • Are hands-on – like to get physically involved
How Xers Learn • Task oriented – like to learn new skills • Speed is important • Self-paced learning, independent learning • Want to have fun while they learn • Informal learning environments are best • Hate group work • Want feedback from teacher
Educational Experiences • Learned to rely on self (don’t like group work) • Distrust authority • Seek challenging environment (career education emphasis) • Want feedback on progress • Want to do things their way – like no rules and freedom on assignments • Had special ed classrooms in school but separated • Had honors programs • Funding cut to education • Testing “mania” began with them • First daycare centers arose with them • Many latch-key kids
College Experiences • Numbers dropped from 60’s and 70’s • More emphasis on career education • Technology began to emerge (Eric Silver Platter, FAX machines, PCs [Apple and Tandy], calculators) • More extracurricular activities • Some self-paced learning • Costs increased, more financial aid • More structure and group activity • Experiential exercises emerged • Began “learning on my own” due to technology
Gen Xers as Faculty/Staff • Significant number of faculty and significant number of students (age 28-44ish) • Cynical and pessimistic • Want work-life balance • Think globally and seek independence • Like technology and want an informal work environment • Don’t want the boomers’ work ethic • Communication is important and talk to adults as friends/peers (not impressed with authority) • Believe reward should be based on productivity not hours worked • Want control of self, time and future • Loyalty to people not a company • Impatient with poorer people skills
The Echo Boom/Millennials… • The Millennials are the children born between 1982 and 2002 (peaked in 1990), a cohort called by various names: • The Millennials are almost as large as the baby boom-some say larger - depending on how you measure them (approximately 81 million, civic). Echo Boom Generation Y Millennials Net Generation
Things Began to Change for This Generation • Abortion rates peaked in 1980 and began a slow decline. • Poverty rate for children peaked in 1983 and began a slow decline (Medicaid began). • US divorce rate peaked in 1981 and began a decline. • Homicide rate against children peaked in 1982 and began a decline. • They were born into a better world, a more optimistic world than the generation before them.
What We Know • 35% are non-White • 1 in 5 has at least one parent who is an immigrant • Have the best educated mothers in history • Have better educated parents • Came out of the infertility era – were very wanted as children • Grew up during a monumental financial boom • Safest generation we have seen
What We Know • Born to older parents and raised in smaller families (lots of only children) – many have never shared a room • Been plugged in since they were babies • Expect technology to be free • Think it is cool to be smart • Have had cell phones since they were children • Expect to have 4 or more jobs in their lifetime • Are as interested in where they live as what they do – so cities are working to attract them
Millennials – What We Know • This generation is civic-minded, much like the GI Generation (WWI). • They are collectively optimistic, long-term planners, high achievers with lower rates of violent crime, teen pregnancy, smoking and alcohol use than ever before. • This generation believes that they have the potential to be great and they probably do. We are looking to them to provide us with a new definition of citizenship.
Influenced by Customer Service Movement • Expect what they paid for • Everyone should be concerned that they are satisfied and happy • If they are not happy with your answer, they will go over your head • Expect colleges to bend over backwards to please them • Not the way it works in higher education • Savvy consumers and will stay under your radar as long as possible
Parents Are Different • This generation is being parented by well-educated, over-involved adults who participate in “deliberate parenting.” They have outcomes in mind. • Boomers were the first generation to be thrown out in to an unsafe world as adolescents. • The 60’s and 70’s were very scary and many of us felt unprepared for it. • We were naïve and didn’t have enough tools in our tool box to deal with it.
Baby Boomers as Parents • Boomers rebelled against the parenting practices of their parents. • Strict discipline was the order of the day for boomers. • They made conscious decisions not to say “because I told you so” or “because I’m the parent and you’re the child.” • Boomers became more “friendly” with their children. They wanted to have open lines of communication and a relationship with them.
Baby Boomers as Parents • They explained things to their children, (actions, consequences, options, etc.) – they wanted them to learn to make informed decisions. • They allowed their children to have input into family decisions, educational options and discipline issues. • We told them “just because it is on television doesn’t mean it’s true” or “you can’t believe everything you read.” • We wanted them to question authority.
The Result • Millennials have become “a master set of negotiators” who are capable of rational thought and decision-making skills at young ages. • They will negotiate with anyone including their parents, teachers and school administrators. • Some call this “arguing.”
Helicopter Parents • Helicopter Parent (n) A parent who hovers over his or her children. • Or Snowplow parent: Parents who clear the way for their children • ……these (echo) boomers are confident, achievement-oriented and used to hovering "helicopter" parents keeping tabs on their every move. (Anthony DeBarros, "New baby boom swamps colleges," USA Today, January 2, 2003)
Baby Boomer Parents have been their Biggest Cheerleaders • Millennials expect and need praise. • Will mistake silence for disapproval. • Millennials expect feedback. • They want it from teachers and bosses. • They want mentoring.
Talk to All Adults as Peers • Spent a lot of time interacting with adults as children • Aren’t afraid of adults and consider themselves equal • Faculty think they lack respect • Won’t hesitate to state their position and attempt to negotiate for a grade, to redo an assignment, etc.
Helicopter Parent go to College • A new generation of over-involved parents are flooding campus orientations, meddling in registration and interfering with students' dealings with professors, administrators and roommates, school officials say. • Some of these hovering parents, whose numbers have been rising for several years, are unwittingly undermining their children's chances of success, campus administrators say. Now, universities and colleges are moving rapidly to build or expand programs aimed at helping parents strike a better balance. Colleges Ward Off Overinvolved ParentsBy Sue ShellenbargerFrom The Wall Street Journal Online
Who are your heroes? • An Associate Press/MTV poll asked millennials who they looked up to as heroes? • 50% said their parents (29% mom, 21% dad) • 11% named a friend • 10% said God • 8% named a grandmother • 7% a brother • 5% a teacher or professor CNN 8/20/07
Perceptions of Parents • This generation loves their parents • Thinks they were great parents • Share their values, like their music • Have no desire to “get away” from their parents when they go to college like other generations. • When they need something – they ask the parents first – go to them for help • Parents want to help them and protect them • College is a new “unknown” and parents are nervous – we need to waylay their fears
Now We Find Ourselves Having to Deal With Parents in Ways We Never Have Before • The last group of millennials will begin college in 2020. • We need to begin to be proactive now. • Orientation for parents • Materials for parents • Communication with parents via newsletter or emails • Help them learn how to help their student • Help them understand what it takes for a student to become independent and help themselves
Dealing With Parents • FERPA only limits us from talking to parents about student progress, attendance, grades, etc. but nothing else. • We feel we shouldn’t have to deal with parents – because our history indicates our average student age has been about 30. • Not so today – most rapidly growing group is under 25 and will continue to be so for a while (in 07-08, 50% were under 30) • Parents need to know about FERPA
What Do Universities Do With Parents • Parents organization – great help with fundraising • Parent orientation • Parents’ weekend (or other events) • Mail to parents to purchase care packages during finals week, etc. • Parents pay for services for their children • Could be a great group of volunteers for us • But it takes staff to coordinate them
Millennials - Not Very Hardy • Our parents told us “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” • Their philosophy “when the going gets tough, it means you should try another route” and “if at first you don’t succeed, maybe you shouldn’t be here.” • They have trouble staying in classes with rigid teachers who offer them no flexibility or encouragement.
Millennials - Not Very Hardy • Seems like the tougher you are, the quicker they quit • Have no preconceived ideas about expectations • See a lack of consistency among faculty • Have to tell them more than the generation before them and we resent it
Cognitive Psychologists and Learning Styles • Cognitive psychologists such as Kolb, Honey and Mumford, Jung, etc. who have done the major work on learning styles recognize four basic styles: • Concrete Experience (feeling) • Active Experimentation (doing) • Abstract Conceptualization (thinking) • Reflective Observation (watching) • Those probably don’t change dramatically with generations. What may change are the perceptual modalities such as preferences for print, aural, interactive, visual, kinesthetic, and olfactory
What We Do Know • Faculty tend to teach in the same style by which they prefer to learn. • We also tend to teach by the methods we were taught – “if it was good enough for me, it is good enough for them.” • Students prefer faculty who teach according to their learning style.
How Millennials Learn • Try it their way – always looking for better, faster way of doing things • Prefer graphics before text, reading of excerpts • Like small and fast processing technology – best when networked • Want instant gratification and frequent rewards (spot) • Focus on skill development – not memorization of what they perceive they don’t need to know • Productivity is key – not attendance – so make class worthwhile or they won’t come • Have different critical thinking skills based on their high tech world not thought processing (need help here) • Rely on teacher to facilitate learning • Group think and interaction
Millennial School Experiences • Many private schools, charter schools, magnet schools – all to meet the needs of the individual child –many, many choices • School uniforms, child safety, high performance standards, character education, cooperative learning and community service • Goal oriented – outcome based education (what’s in it for me) • School is a means to an end – one must endure until the next level • Interactive, participatory and engaging – are consulted by adults • Everything 24/7 and available electronically • No “grunt work” - must do “meaningful work”, participate in decisions • International flavor, celebrate diversity, different is okay • Motivated by working with bright, motivated and moral people • Student makes judgments about truth and believability of what is taught • Classroom mainstreamed – multiple levels based on ability and interest • Constantly tested and compared to peers (learned to take tests so now of little use for college admissions) • Feel pressure for high achievement
Millennial College Experiences • Multiple options – state, private, proprietary schools, community colleges, dual and concurrently enrolled, middle college, etc. (Where does one start and another begin?) make the choice by “what’s best for me.” • Fast paced learning • Group activities (learning communities, peer tutoring, service learning, supplemental instruction) • More assumed responsibility from colleges for the social issues of students (before, faculty weren’t concerned) • Don’t want or need silence to concentrate – freaks out the librarians • All possible content is on the internet – need process and skills-based • Get out as fast as you can • Stay home as long as you can – are protected and mentored • Get “do-overs” often • Lots of technology, no tolerance for delays • Are not hardy, drop out and quit easily • Dislike ambiguity – “just tell us what we need to know”