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Generational Learning Styles

Page history last edited by Gayla S. Keesee 15 years, 8 months ago

Excerpt from Generational Learning Styles by Julie Coates (2006)


The information provided here is intended to guide you to a better understanding of how to successfully teach students of different ages. The goal is to provide you with information that you can use to understand the outlook and context within which people of different generations approach learning, so that you can be more creative and successful in your own teaching.

Keep in mind that every individual is different. That does not, however, mean that it is impossible for people with certain shared cultural experiences to develop similar sets of behaviors and outlooks. As much as we are individuals, we also share much in common with our peers. Thus, if we assert that baby boomers are avid learners, it does not mean that every baby boomer is an avid learner. We all know individuals who are baby boomers and who are not at all interested in pursuing additional learning opportunities.


It means that, statistically, baby boomers are more likely to engage in learning activities than their predecessors, and/or that more baby boomers are likely to pursue independent learning interests than other groups, or that a significant number of adults in this category say that learning and education are important to them, etc.


Likewise, if we say that Millenials are more likely to have good manners than Gen Xers, it does not mean that all Millenials are polite or that all Gen Xers are rude. It simply means that certain behaviors are more typical of each group than of others. I raise this point because I do not wish any of you to become frustrated when we must, for the purposes of discussion, make certain broad characterizations. This is unavoidable, and I encourage you to remember that our broad statements are based on behaviors that have been analyzed and measured for statistically significant presence among population groups.

To fully understand the implications of societal change upon generations and upon learning preferences, it is necessary to consider a wide array of forces that impinge upon people’s lives, and how these forces change with time. In order to understand these better, we will explore a variety of cultural phenomena including social, economic, demographic, technological, and scientific, as well as educational - for it is the collective influence of all these societal forces that results in the changes across generations that are the focus of this book.

The Veterans (1920-1945)

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

Generation X, Gen X (1965-1980)

Generation Y, Millenials, Net Gen (1980-2000)

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