Students in this generation maintain specific and passionate attitudes and opinions concerning their learning experiences. Concepts and tactics that inspire some, fail to inspire others. Education systems throughout the United States need to identify and support the changing needs of evolving student culture to successfully prepare them to face the challenges presented by a global environment.
Consider These Obstacles
Teachers in this current climate understand that they can’t just pass out textbooks and assign chapters. But there are other obstacles that can be a little more elusive to pinpoint. Consider these:
Students of this current generation want to experience learning in a more tangible way. They want to investigate knowledge through the use of all their senses. Accomplishing this takes commitment and ingenuity by the teachers’ to integrate experiential aspects to their lesson plans.
Sleep-both quality and quantity-impacts students’ ability to concentrate in class; further impacting their ability to comprehend concepts and successfully learn.
Most students do not have the insight to correlate class work to a career or make a real-life application; teachers must effectively make this connection for them – or better yet, teach them how to find the connections themselves.
Use of study groups and team dynamics are beneficial only when students are armed with the skills necessary to optimize this learning tool. Instructing students in group dynamics make take time, but it’s well-invested time.
Students’ ability to feel accepted by their peers positively or negatively affects their comfort level to take risks or participate in class discussion-sense of belonging directly affects their willingness to perform.
Students will take risks (regardless of social standing) if teachers model this behavior and support their efforts in class-i.e., provide a safe, controlled environment in which to take a risk.
Respect is a powerful indicator of performance. Students that feel a teacher is not worthy of respect, usually lower their performance level in that class.
Teachers have more influence than they realize. Students discern teacher involvement, attitudes, and level of commitment; when they see a double standard, students lose respect and motivation.
Students in this generation crave technology. Integrating technology is more natural to these students than it is to their teachers. This is a particularly strong area to implement a type of reverse mentoring (allowing students to make suggestions on integration and technology use related to specific assignments). Teachers need to approach the students with the request, reassure students that they honestly want their input, and then take action to implement suggestions that are reasonable and fitting.
Teachers and students maintain vastly different perceptions of appropriate use of technology in the classroom. Teachers seem confident that they adequately integrate technology in the classroom and assignments, whereas students report that very little technology is used in the classroom. Students feel that, given the opportunity, they would be comfortable with far more technology.
Students and teachers clearly differ in their perceptions of what factors contribute to student motivation; this shows a strong discrepancy in their ability to communicate with each other.
The more concise and clear the material presentation by teachers, the easier it is for students to pay attention.
A high percent of students are children of divorce; this factors into their ability to perform appropriately in class.
Students of disrupted or blended families report feeling higher levels of pressure to perform well in school.
Male and female students are motivated at similar levels of commitment.
Consider these obstacles when designing your lesson plans. It’s imperative, as an educator, that you acknowledge the changing tide of your learners to ignite their motivation.