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Community College and Generational Diversity

July 31, 2012

Enrollment in community college courses is as diverse as a bag of skittles. There are high school students getting early college credit, first time college students, returning college students, certificate students, and a variety of other students attending for personal interests. Although the purpose for attending community college varies, instructors must still meet the needs of all students. One very interesting factor increasing the challenge to meet learners’ needs is generational diversity.

A popular topic in the workforce, generational diversity in organizations translates as a recognition of the need to mesh an aging workforce with vast experiential knowledge with the millennial generation that understands theory but lacks practice. The focus is typically on communicating expectations and managing the work ethic of a workforce that comes from very different intrinsic motivators. In education, the issues are comparable; we too have to focus on communication and work ethic. Although similar, our challenge is a bit more demanding. In addition to following a traditional expectation of the transfer of knowledge, instructors also need to connect with students, encourage active collaboration, hold high expectations, facilitate student services to address finances, coaching, academic success (and much more) and now, do all this with a heterogeneous group of abilities and ages.

Effective college Instruction of the four generational classes requires an intentional focus on generational diversity. Each generation is molded by the experiences from the prior generation and that can cause quite a pendulum swing from one extreme to the other. The traditionalist may be prepared for straight lecture while the millennial may be expecting one-on-one attention.

In planning for courses, instructors can find information on the demographics of their college, review references on the work styles of the four generations, and seek out instructional tips and activities for collaborative learning among the generations. One favorite tip to build class community and maximize success is to keep changing methodologies to reach all the learning styles of the four generations.

Please, let us know what you are doing to effectively teach to the four generation class!

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 1, 2013 4:30 pm

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    my iPad and tested to see if it can survive a 25 foot drop, just
    so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views.
    I know this is entirely off topic but I had to
    share it with someone!

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