Teaching Generation Z: Top Tips, Benefits, and Challenges

Different generations of students have enrolled and graduated from higher education institutions for many decades. Throughout these decades, educators have been using the same strategies despite what generation is present in their classroom. This newer generation of students, Generation Z, have unique characteristics and expectations that must be taken into account in order to teach them effectively.

Individuals from Generation Z are born between 1996 and 2012. Like millennials, they were raised with technology, and it’s a big part of their everyday life activities. Generation Z consider themselves loyal, thoughtful, compassionate, open-minded, and responsible, and they want more than anything to make changes in our society. This is a challenge, however, because they generally prefer to work alone and occasionally lack creativity. Here is what educators need to know about the optimal education of Generation Z.

Educators often evaluate students through exams and research papers, but his type of assessment shows only what students have memorized for a specific exam or what they know about a specific topic. Generation Z needs more than that; they need real-life knowledge that can be related to their job area. Because Generation Z is so digital, their teachers must be equally well versed in the digital world in order to teach them effectively. Teachers should therefore take care to become more skilled in different types of devices, programs, and applications that can be integrated into the classroom, and develop activities that are both related to the course and also highly meaningful to students.

The following are ideas on how to utilize different technologies to help engage students and foster motivation:

1. Generation Z students are on their cellphones a lot, and most of them use their phones for everyday activities. Allow students to use their cellphones to access their class textbooks and manuals online. Teachers can also create blogs where their students can read articles related to class discussions, post comments, and at the same time, practice reading and writing in English. For example, they can start a discussion based on articles pertinent to class, such as why academic writing is important.

2. Students also love social media. Facebook Live could be used for live conferences on various topics. After listening to the conference, students can write a summary and give their opinion on the topic. Facebook Live conferences can provide insight on life and work skills, and Generation Z students find this way of retaining information relevant to their everyday life and, at the same time, a little more enjoyable than standard learning.

3. YouTube is another application that can help students in their learning, as Generation Z is very visual. For a research project, teachers can share links from YouTube for writing a research paper, APA format, and many other topics. Generation Z students are self starters, and therefore prefer surfing the web looking for their own answers over directly asking for help.

4. Generation Z students prefer to answer short, online quizzes over long paper tests and exams. Quizzes can easily be facilitated on Blackboard, and students can even complete these short quizzes in the classroom by using their cell phones.

5. Small group work is generally the preferred teamwork method by Generation Z. When they work in small groups, they can foster more creativity. During the process, you can see how much they enjoy working with others by their enthusiasm as they share their final product with their classmates.

6. Research has identified that Generation Z has a short attention span, so active learning activities are essential. One approach could be having students write a short summary in teams or individually. This helps teachers identify what needs to be reviewed with the class. One Minute Papers are also very effective for this purpose.

7. Games are very effective to review material and allow students to share knowledge. Students can become very active and put forth a lot of concentration on the game. Generation Z students are virtual gamers, and they love game challenges. Plus, they’re fun!

8. The most important strategy by far with Generation Z is caring feedback. When teachers care about what is happening to their students and their needs, students become more engaged in the classroom. Caring about their progress gives them constant and positive feedback. Although teachers may correct their papers, they can also give students feedback on how they can improve and motivate them by giving encouragement. Positive words change people, and teachers must do this with their Generation Z students.

Understanding this generation’s unique characteristics will help teachers rethink what they are doing in their classrooms and become more conscious about the learning needs of Generation Z. Although it may not be possible to work individually with each and every student, teachers can try their best to understand their students and implement new ideas.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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