CHARACTERISING the current generation of university students as "Gen Y" is a hollow exercise that obscures students' diversity and compromises their learning, says Queensland University of Technology social researcher Dr Jason Sternberg.
Dr Sternberg, from QUT's Creative Industries Faculty, said the term Gen Y did little to explain young adults' lives and should be sidelined in favour of a genuine understanding of the diversity of experience and learning styles students brought to university.
In a paper to be published in Higher Education Research and Development, Dr Sternberg has questioned the whole construct of Gen Y university students and generally held notions of their being self-centred, group-learning oriented and above all "digital natives" capable of multitasking on the latest gadgetry.
"Gen Y has been written and spoken about as if all university students are young, largely middle-class and highly technologically literate," Dr Sternberg said.
"This construct smoothes over the actual diversity in age, socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds of today's students.
"It silences discussion on this diversity while drawing attention and resources away from improving access for those, who are under-represented at university."
Furthermore, the Gen Y literature describing the stand-out characteristics of people born from 1982 onwards (even the start date is disputed) was often contradictory.
"For example, we are told that fostering Gen Ys' self-esteem has led them to value 'participation over achievement', which is ironic because one of the defining characteristics is supposed to be a 'desire for success'."
Dr Sternberg said Gen Y university students were often constructed as a new breed of student with radically different learning styles from previous generations, which call for new teaching strategies and new environments that do away with rows of desks to learn in.
"Gen Y students are seen as requiring social interaction and support, especially from their peers, in order to learn," he said.
"For example, a survey of 18 to 25-year-old Australian computer game design students found they preferred immersive learning techniques, which incorporated virtual classrooms, discussion forums and educational games. This learning environment produced high marks for participants.
"However, a study of US nursing students found no difference between generations X and Y, and that both age groups preferred lectures and skill demonstrations over group work and web-based learning."
Dr Sternberg said the Gen Y digital natives were portrayed as spending their time texting, chatting, updating their Facebook status and browsing the web.
"This overstates their desire to use technology for learning. In fact several studies found an overall ambivalence towards technology and that students were not demanding increased use of technology, do not expect novel use of technology and only a few look for new technologies to assist their learning."
Dr Sternberg said stereotyping students as Gen Y and comparing them with other generations alienated students and teachers from each other and also reduced the potential for understanding students' lives.
"The term sells books, increases publication outputs and attracts media coverage but it is ultimately a hollow and facile buzzword telling us little about the complex world our students inhabit."
You will absolutely love living here, in this highly sought after Parkridge Estate, Rockyview. 4072m2 of pure freedom, relaxation, wide open spaces, as well as...
BIG home over 300m² under roof. BIG room sizes (all double bedrooms) and BIG value (come check it out for yourself!!! BIG! BIG! BIG! - 4 BIG Living Areas - BIG!
Sitting high with views that go on forever and breezes all year around this gorgeous three bedroom, air-conditioned home has a complete separate granny flat with...
This superior lowset brick and tile roof family home, perfectly located in a quiet cul de sac,in the prestigious Hillside Estate, must be seen, to be fully...
This is an exciting opportunity to secure a spacious, well equipped home for a large family. This massive Queenslander sits on 815m² allotment with High Colour...
This timber home is built on a 569m² corner allotment of prime real-estate. Only 2 streets from the new High Rise Apartments built on the river front. This...
Architectural brilliance and luxury living is this signature home, that has left no stone unturned when it comes to charisma & style. One of Tanby Heights finest...
What a great home for your family, offering you plenty of space on both levels, open plan kitchen and dining, with separate family and living rooms. Built-ins in...
Come and see why Ocean Ridge Estate is so popular, with its close proximity to Sacred Hear Primary & stunning Lammermoor Beach. • Elevated 864m2 Block • 41 Meter...
Nestled in a quite no though road, opposite parkland is a modern family home. Perfectly located to suite a busy family, walking distance to school, service...
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.