Teaching the New Generations: How Do Millennials Learn?

a man raising a hand to ask a professor

People have different ways of learning, processing, and internalizing information. Due to a variety of learning styles, upbringing, and even the language that we use to learn, each learning experience can be very different for each individual.

But while there are some personal differences to consider when it comes to education, there are overall trends that one can look at and follow when it comes to learning processes. Millennials, with their one foot in traditional learning methods and a hand in the tech of the future, have carved out their niche of how they learn.

Teaching this particular demographic comes with its own set of rules and challenges. And while there are some traditional ways of learning that millennials will happily engage with, there are also some subtleties to the way they learn in which educators need to address.

They like rapport

Gone are the days of impartial teaching and aloof education—millennials prefer a more personal, hands-on approach to education. They thrive on interactive teaching where the dialogue between student and teacher is more pronounced, rather than the quiet, sit-still-and-listen methods that older generations are used to. They value their own investment into the subject as highly as the subject values, and can often come up with surprising ways to engage with the material.

This means educators need to revise their usual teaching strategies to include the students in the material, not just teach it to them. Engagement is a very important aspect of how millennials learn, and that will require some overhaul in how educators teach their subject matter.


They’re surprisingly good with research

Having been born between the traditional ways of getting information and the high-tech boom of their younger years, millennials are quite savvy when it comes to getting their information. It doesn’t matter if it’s something in your lesson plan or the Spanish books; for teachers, it’s important to keep in mind that these students have a wide array of information at their fingertips.

This makes it critical for educators to be flexible when it comes to their methods of teaching or even their subject matter. Millennials are more updated with the newest developments in the fields that educators normally concern themselves with, and should be treated accordingly.


Relevancy is very important to them

a professor teaching a small group of student

Finally, millennials usually engage better with subject matters or methods that they can relate to on a personal level. Having seen the biggest troubles that face globalization and the rise of social media; not having a voice, feeling cut-off, general mistrust of corporatization—this demographic is much more receptive to methods that they can relate to, rather than just forced to accept.

Educators will often need to frame their current discussion about how the subject relates to the student, not how the student is supposed to accept the subject. The relevance of your topics should be something that they care deeply about in order to make sure they engage with it well. After all, seeing that your students are learning and are applying what they learned is the true happiness of a teacher.

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