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TEACHING ACROSS GENERATIONS Beth A. Longenecker, DO, FACOEP, FACEP, CS Associate Dean, Clinical Education


Oct 05, 2021



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Beth A. Longenecker, DO, FACOEP, FACEP, CS Associate Dean, Clinical Education
Generation X
• Identify characteristics of each generation • Discuss the potential impact of these traits
on the teacher/learner relationship • Use knowledge of generational traits to
structure experiences in order to facilitate learning
• Create bridges across generations to enhance the communication and learning
Today’s Medical Student
• Group of people born in same timeframe – Typically about 20 years
• Share a common context of experiences – Shape beliefs, values and preferences
The Generation Gap
• “Millennial” or “Generation Y”
• Physicians in practice: average age 52 – 70% are 40 – 69 years old – 20% are 30 – 39 years old
• “Generation X” and “Baby Boomer” – 10% are > 69 years old
• “Traditional”
Traditionals (1920-1945) Defining Events
• Great Depression • The New Deal • World War I • World War II • Penicillin and Polio
Vaccine • Parents: Immigrants
Characteristics • Loyalty • Duty • Patriotism • Delayed gratification • Save for a rainy day
– No social safety net
Baby Boomers (1946-1964) Defining Events
• End of World War II • Vietnam War begins • First human in space • Assassination of JFK • Women’s Right’s
Movement • Television • Traditional parents
Generation X(1965-1980)
Defining Events • End of Vietnam War • Watergate Scandal • Religious scandals
– Jim Baker, Catholic priests
– Many with divorced parents
competent • Demand work/life balance
As a Student……
Boomers • On time • Motivated to succeed • Prepared • Concerned about grades • Prefer lectures
X-ers • Keep it efficient and
straightforward – Teach to the test
• Education is a means to an end
• Prefer self-directed opportunities
Defining Events
• End of Cold War • Space Shuttle Challenger • Cloning Dolly the Sheep • Columbine • Oklahoma City • 911 • “Surfing the Net”
Millennials (1981-2001) Baby Boomer Parents
• Pressured to excel – School, sports, activities – If you don’t will get coach!
• Told that they are special – Told they can achieve
anything – Sheltered from failure
at all levels
– Explorative, experiential, hands-on learners – Multi-taskers – Highly developed ability to sort through data – Ability to move easily between real and virtual
• Most connected/most isolated
– Gravitate toward social interaction • This desire can lead to overextension
– Expect and embrace diversity – Often more comfortable in group activities
than flying solo
Characteristics of Generation “Y”
• Achievement oriented – Want clearly defined objectives – Focused on reward (grades) – Want constant feedback
• Consumerist Attitude – Expect accountability from institutions
Characteristics of Generation “Y”
• Mindset is NOT work/life balance it is one that only things that are interesting or worthwhile fit into my life
Does this really apply in med school???
• Borge et al. 2 studies in one school – Compared Gen X and Gen Y students – Personality traits
• Millennials higher in rule consciousness and perfectionism
• Gen X higher in self reliance – Motivation
• Millennials higher in achievement and affiliation • Gen X higher in power
Implications for Educators
The Digital Mind
• Shorter attention span – “hypertext” mindset
• Prefer visual over textual or graphic – Not readers as a whole!
• Informatically illiterate – Can sort info but poor judge of quality
Strategies to Try
• Multimedia assignments more effective – Keep lecture time short – Stimulate problem solving – Application of knowledge/hands on trial and
error • Assign clinical question to answer
– Keep it specific – Discuss what sources are NOT reliable and
• Tendency to do this in classroom setting, on rounds, in hospital – Perceived as disrespectful
• Can negatively impact long term recall
Digital Communication
• Expect instant responses and constant feedback
• Blogs, etc.: – Everyone’s opinion is equally valid – I have the right to critique anyone on anything
Digital Communication
• Communication without barriers – Can carry over to professors and preceptors
• Difficulty with verbal and written communication
Best Strategy: Set Expectations
• What you expect in a formal email
• If you wish to offer an opinion on a discussion or point, validate it
Collaborative Mindset
• Group learning activities preferred – May be unwilling to commit when asked an
opinion • View everyone on the team as a peer
– May select opinions of peer group(real and virtual) over that of their teachers
– May appear “casual” – May struggle in teams with a rigid hierarchy
Strategies to Try
• More small group discussion in person or online – Monitor participation
• Establish expectations—explain YOUR idea of the hierarchy/respect
• Explain discrepancies of opinion
• Find ways for meaningful inclusion – Assign specific tasks/duties – Provide feedback on work – Simulation with the team
• Reach out on a personal level – Explain why you chose your career path – Discuss where you use skills you are helping
the learner develop
The “Parent Trap”
• Special and sheltered – Do not always self-assess abilities well – Reward focused
• They should always have an “A” – Do not take negative feedback easily
• Emotional meltdown • Your opinion does not matter
• Highly active but structured schedule – Often can’t self-structure study/travel
Implications for Educators • Provide clear cut goals and offer rewards
– Praise, with specificity
• Provide feedback—gently
Final thoughts on Bridging the Generational Gap
• Be aware generational context and think outside your “box”
• Work to create a culture of mutual respect
• Provide clear direction in all expectations
Final thoughts on Bridging the Generational Gap
• Don’t let generational values define professionalism
• Explain the “why”
• Show your passion – If you can inspire a millennial you will channel
their energy
References • Black A: Generation Y: Who they are and how they learn. Educational Horizons 2010; 88 (2): 92-
• Borges NJ, Manuel RS, Elam CI, Jones BJ: Comparing millennial and generation X medical students at one medical school. Acad Med 2006; 81 (6): 571-576.
• Borges NJ, Manuel RS, Elam CI, Jones BJ: Differences in motives between millennial and generation X medical Students. Med Education 2010; 44: 570-576.
• Feiertag J, Berge ZL: Training Generation N: how educators should approach the Net Generation. Ed and Training 2008; 50 (6): 457-464.
• Gibson JW, Greenwood RA, Murphy EF et al.: Generational differences in the workplace: personal values, behaviors and popular beliefs. J Diversity Management 2009;4(3): 1-8.
• Johnson SA, Romanello ML: Genreational diversity: teaching and learning approaches. Nurse Educator 2005; 30 (5): 212-216.
• • Kupperschmidt BR: Addressing multigenerational conflict: mutual respect and carefronting as
strategy. OJIN: 11: 2: retrieved 4/2/2016.
References • McAlister A: Teaching the millennial generation: Am Music Teacher 2009; 4:13-15.
• McClellan SK: Externships for millennial generation law students: bridging the generation gap. Clin Law Review 2009;15:255- 282.
• McGlynn AP: Teaching millennials, our newest cultural cohort. Ed digest 2005; 71: 12-16.
• Ng ESW, Schweitzer L, Lyons ST: New generation, great expectations: A field study of the millennial generation. J Bus Psychol 2012; 25: 281-292.
• Pardu KT, Morgan P:Millennials considered: New approaches and implications for nursing education. Nursing Ed Persp 2008;29(2):74-79.
• Roberts DH, Newman LR, Schwartzstein RM: Twelve tips for facilitating millennials learning. Med Teacher 2012; 34: 274-278.
• Sandras J, Morrison C: What is the Net Generation? The challenge for future medical education. Med Teacher 2007; 29: 85-88.
References • Twenge JM: Generational changes and their impact in the classroom: teaching
Generation Me. Med Education 2009; 43: 398-405.
• Venuta : ESTS Presidential Address: Education, motivation…inspiration of Generation Y. The evolution of our species. Europ J of Cardio Thorac Surg 2014; 46: 761-766.
Teaching Across Generations
Millennials (1981-2001)
Implications for Educators
The Digital Mind
Strategies to Try