Generation Z students can use five screens at one time and communicate more with images rather than texting, said instructional designer Kate Sierra during a Monday afternoon workshop.
Sierra spoke in the CETL conference room in the Eunice & James L. West Library to a small audience. During the workshop, “Understanding Gen Z,” she said Gen Z students (10-18 years old) focus more on the future, but they have realistic thoughts.
She also said that Gen Z students have an eight-second attention span, which is shorter than a goldfish.
Sierra showed how quickly educators have to catch Gen Z students’ attention by setting a timer for eight seconds, and asked workshop attendees to choose two topics.
Dr. Stacia Dunn Campbell, associate professor of English, said the name of one of the topics she wanted to speak about and the timer went off. The exercise underscored that professors have only eight seconds before they lose students’ attention.
Sierra said that Gen Z students constantly have thoughts constantly running through their minds; they want to get ahead in life or they want something now so they can get ahead in life later.
Campbell said she has tried the split classroom setting; she also tries the “pair and share” method, which is pairing people into a small group after an assignment and having them share amongst one another.
Dr. Alistair Maeer chimed in and said that he has tried the “pair and share” with students age 23-24 and it has been more successful than lecturing and asking a question aloud and not getting a response back.
Maeer, an associate professor of history, said that he will have better results if he were to tell the student why they are doing the assignment and how it connects to their everyday life, rather than giving out busy work and not giving an explanation, because that is what Gen Z feeds off.