Division of Academic Affairs
Maria offers her insights for understanding the generation of students born between 1982 and 2002. She also shares some tips for meeting these students where they are in order to achieve your course goals and enhance classroom learning.
Welcome to “Teaching & Learning Matters.” I’m Dr. Maria Yon from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Thanks for tuning in to this important session. Why is it important? Obviously, as teachers, we must understand our students in order to connect with them. Moreover, the generation of students who sit in our classrooms today are different from the generations that preceded them – and certainly different from most of us.
You have probably heard the word “millennial” batted about. It’s a term used to describe the generation born between 1982 and 2002. The key to being successful with millennial students is to understand how they view the world and use that knowledge to motivate them in ways that work. As teachers, we need to meet them where they are and they will achieve our goals.
So, I’d like to give you a few tips for working with the millennials. First, provide a lot of structure. Clearly state your course goals and give detailed instructions and guidelines for assignments. Furthermore, assess progress toward meeting goals often and offer lots of positive encouragement. Otherwise they are easily discouraged.
Take advantage of their comfort level with teams. They are used to working with others because they have done so since elementary school. They believe that a team can accomplish more and better. Structure activities where they can work together both in and out of class. Because we are preparing them for the workplace, working with others is a vital skill to have and that is another reason for structuring group or pair work.
Millennials have been networking around the world electronically and are skilled at all the ways of doing so. Capitalize on their affinity for networking. Identify ways they might use electronic literacy to enhance classroom learning. They may be able to help you with some ideas for incorporating technology in the course.
Provide a fun, student-centered classroom environment. Millennials want to enjoy their work and the classroom. They want to make friends. Provide activities that are fun, interesting and challenging – yes, challenging. They are up for the challenge and change. They seek ever-changing tasks within their work in the classroom session and across a semester. Too much routine is boring.
Provide leadership and guidance. Millennials like adults and they want to look up to you, but you must earn their respect. Then, they are fiercely loyal. It’s a great opportunity for you to be a role model. So, listen to their opinions and ideas with interest. They don’t take kindly to being ignored.
There is much in the media about the millennial generation, the generation raised during the self-esteem movement with doting, overprotective baby-boomer parents. Computers have always been part of their world. They seek as well as create knowledge at their fingertips. They have the opportunity to be the next great generation. We need that from them in this ever-changing, complex world. The college classroom can propel the millennials in a positive direction. They are a culture unto themselves. I encourage you to learn more about the millennials from the many books, articles and Internet sites currently available.
Thanks for tuning in. And remember – teaching and learning matters.
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