Archive of ‘digital naitives’ category
Can We Please Stop Talking About Generations as if They Are a Thing?
Millennials are not all narcissists and boomers are not inherently selfish. The research on generations is flawed.
APRIL 13, 2018 9:00 AM
SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN, 2008. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Generational-Myth/32491 Generational Myth
My note: Siva raised this issue from a sociologist point of view as soon as in 2008. Before him, Prensky’s “digitally natives” ideas was already criticized.
Howe and Strauss; Millennials books contributed to the overgeneralizations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory
We spend a lot of time debating the characteristics of generations—are baby boomers really selfish and entitled, are millennials really narcissists, and the latest, has the next generation (whatever it is going to be called) already been ruined by cellphones? Many academics—and many consultants—argue that generations are distinct and that organizations, educators, and even parents need to accommodate them. These classifications are often met with resistance from those they supposedly represent, as most people dislike being represented by overgeneralizations, and these disputes only fuel the debate around this contentious topic.
In short, the science shows that generations are not a thing.
It is important to be clear what not a thing means. It does not mean that people today are the same as people 80 years ago or that anything else is static. Times change and so do people. However, the idea that distinct generations capture and represent these changes is unsupported.
What is a generation? Those who promote the concept define it as a group of people who are roughly the same age and who were influenced by a set of significant events. These experiences supposedly create commonalities, making those in the group more similar to each other and more different from other groups now and from groups of the same age in the past.
In line with the definition, there is a commonly held perception that people growing up around the same time and in the same place must have some sort of universally shared set of experiences and characteristics. It helps that the idea of generations intuitively makes sense. But the science does not support it. In fact, most of the research findings showing distinct generations are explained by other causes, have serious scientific flaws, or both.
For example, millennials score lower on job satisfaction than Gen Xers, but are millennials really a less satisfied generation? Early in their careers, Xers were also less satisfied than baby boomers.
Numerous books, articles, and pundits have claimed that millennials are much more narcissistic than young people in the past.
on average, millennials are no more narcissistic now than Xers or boomers were when they were in their 20s, and one study has even found they might be less so than generations past. While millennials today may be more narcissistic than Xers or boomers are today, that is because young people are pretty narcissistic regardless of when they are young. This too is an age effect.
Final example. Research shows that millennials joining the Army now show more pride in their service than boomers or Xers did when they joined 20-plus years ago. Is this a generational effect? Nope. Everyone in the military now shows more pride on average than 20 years ago because of 9/11. The terrorist attack increased military pride across the board. This is known as a period effect and it doesn’t have anything to do with generations.
Another problem—identifying true generational effects is methodologically very hard. The only way to do it would be to collect data from multiple longitudinal panels. Individuals in the first panel would be measured at the start of the study and then in subsequent years with new panels added every year thereafter, allowing assessment of whether people were changing because they were getting older (age effects), because of what was happening around them (period effects), or because of their generation (cohort effects). Unfortunately, such data sets pretty much do not exist. Thus, we’re never really able to determine why a change occurred.
According to one national-culture model, people from the United States are, on average, relatively individualistic, indulgent, and uncomfortable with hierarchical order.
My note: RIchard Nisbett sides with Hofstede and Minkov: http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2016/06/14/cultural-differences/
Conversely, people from China are generally group-oriented, restrained, and comfortable with hierarchy. However, these countries are so large and diverse that they each have millions of individuals who are more similar to the “averages” of the other country than to their own.
Given these design and data issues, it is not surprising that researchers have tried a variety of different statistical techniques to massage (aka torture) the data in an attempt to find generational differences. Studies showing generational differences have used statistical techniques like analysis of variance (ANOVA) and cross-temporal meta-analysis (CTMA), neither of which is capable of actually attributing the differences to generations.
The statistical challenge derives from the problem we have already raised—generations (i.e., cohorts) are defined by age and period. As such, mathematically separating age, period, and cohort effects is very difficult because they are inherently confounded with one another. Their linear dependency creates what is known as an identification problem, and unless one has access to multiple longitudinal panels like I described above, it is impossible to statistically isolate the unique effect of any one factor.
First, relying on flawed generational science leads to poor advice and bad decisions. An analogy: Women live longer than men, on average. Why? They engage in fewer risky behaviors, take better care of themselves, and have two X chromosomes, giving them backups in case of mutations. But if you are a man and you go to the doctor and ask how to live longer, she doesn’t tell you, “Be a woman.” She says eat better, exercise, and don’t do stupid stuff. Knowing the why guides the recommendation.
Now imagine you are a manager trying to retain your supposedly job-hopping, commitment-averse millennial employees and you know that Xers and boomers are less likely to leave their jobs. If you are that manager, you wouldn’t tell your millennial employees to “be a boomer” or “grow older” (nor would you decide to hire boomers or Xers rather than millennials—remember that individuals vary within populations). Instead, you should focus on addressing benefits, work conditions, and other factors that are reasons for leaving.
Second, this focus on generational distinctions wastes resources. Take the millennials-as-commitment-averse-job-hoppers stereotype. Based on this belief, consultants sell businesses on how to recruit and retain this mercurial generation. But are all (or even most) millennials job-hopping commitment avoiders? Survey research shows that millennials and Xers at the same point in their careers are equally likely to stay with their current employer for five or more years (22 percent v. 21.8 percent). It makes no sense for organizations to spend time and money changing HR policies when employees are just as likely to stick around today as they were 15 years ago.
Third, generations perpetuate stereotyping. Ask millennials if they are narcissistic job-hoppers and most of them will rightly be offended. Treat boomers like materialistic achievement seekers and see how it affects their work quality and commitment. We finally are starting to recognize that those within any specific group of people are varied individuals, and we should remember those same principles in this context too. We are (mostly) past it being acceptable to stereotype and discriminate against women, minorities, and the disabled. Why is it OK to do so to millennials or boomers?
The solutions are fairly straightforward, albeit challenging, to implement. To start, we need to focus on the why when talking about whether groups of people differ. The reasons why any generation should be different have only been generally discussed, and the theoretical mechanism that supposedly creates generations has not been fully fleshed out.
Next, we need to quit using these nonsensical generations labels, because they don’t mean anything. The start and end years are somewhat arbitrary anyway. The original conceptualization of social generations started with a biological generational interval of about 20 years, which historians, sociologists and demographers (for one example, see Strauss and Howe, 1991) then retrofitted with various significant historical events that defined the period.
The problem with this is twofold. First, such events do not occur in nice, neat 20-year intervals. Second, not everyone agrees on what the key events were for each generation, so the start and end dates also move around depending on what people think they were. One review found that start and end dates for boomers, Xers, and millennials varied by as many as nine years, and often four to five, depending on the study and the researcher. As with the statistical problem, how can distinct generations be a thing if simply defining when they start and when they end varies so much from study to study?
In the end, the core scientific problem is that the pop press, consultants, and even some academics who are committed to generations don’t focus on the whys. They have a vested interest in selling the whats (Generation Me has reportedly sold more than 115,000 copies, and Google “generations consultants” and see how many firms are dedicated to promulgating these distinctions), but without the science behind them, any prescriptions are worthless or even harmful
David Costanza is an associate professor of organizational sciences at George Washington University and a senior consortium fellow for the U.S. Army Research Institute. He researches, teaches, and consults in the areas of generations, leadership, culture, and organizational performance.
more on the topic in this IMS blog
Millennials and Gen Z still prefer live training, study finds
Riia O’Donnell Feb. 13, 2018
Although by a narrower margin for millennials and Gen Z, the numbers in the Wainhouse study shows that the personal touch hasn’t been replaced in workplace learning.
more on instructional design in this IMS blog
Report: Minecraft Builds Problem-Solving and Empathy Skills in Students
By Sri Ravipati 08/14/17
K–12 teachers who use Minecraft: Education Edition during class say their students are experiencing a number of social-emotional learning (SEL) benefits.
How Minecraft Supports Social and Emotional Learning in K–12 Education
Getting Smart site.
more on empathy in this IMS blog
Want to Keep Your Millennial Employees? You Have To Be Willing to Offer Them This 1 Thing
The Library in the Life of the User. Engaging with People Where They Live and Learn
p. 33 What is Enough? Satisficing Information Needs
This paper examines the theoretical concepts—role theory, rational choice, and satisficing—by attempting to explain the parameters within which users navigate the complex information-rich environment and determine what and how much information will meet their needs.
1. The satiation rule, “where the scan is terminated only when the user becomes satiated by finding all the desired number of relevant documents”;
2. The disgust rule, which “allows the scan to be terminated only when the user becomes disgusted by having to examine too many irrelevant documents”; and
3. The combination rule, “which allows the user to be seen as stopping the scan if he/she is satiated by finding the desired number of relevant documents or disgusted by having to examine too many irrelevant documents, whichever comes first.”
“Screenagers” and Live Chat Reference: Living Up to the Promise
Sense-Making and Synchronicity: Information-Seeking Behaviors of Millennials and Baby Boomers
p. 84 Millennials specific generational features pertinent to libraries and information-seeking include the following:
more on research in this IMS blog
Scott Jaschik. (2016). Freshman announces he’s dropping out of Kansas State and sets off debate on general education. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/12/21/freshman-announces-hes-dropping-out-kansas-state-and-sets-debate-general-education
Aaron Ernst. (2014). Anti-college activism: The growing movement against the 4-year degree | Al Jazeera America. Retrieved from http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/10/3/uncollege-alternativecollege.html
more on unschooling in this IMS blog
and on LInkedIn CEO about skills not degree
View post on imgur.com
Report: Digital Natives ‘Easily Duped’ by Information Online
By Sri Ravipati 12/07/16
Researchers at the Stanford Graduate School of Education assessed middle, high school and college students on the their civic online reasoning skills, or “the ability to judge the credibility of information that floods young people’s smartphones, tablets and computers.”
The Stanford History Education Group recently released a report that analyzes 7,804 responses collected from students across 12 states and varying economic lines, including well-resourced, under-resourced and inner-city schools.
when it comes to evaluating information that flows on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, students “are easily duped” and have trouble discerning advertisements from news articles.
Many people assume that today’s students – growing up as “digital natives” – are intuitively perceptive online. The Stanford researchers found the opposite to be true and urge teachers to create curricula focused on developing students’ civil reasoning skills. They plan to produce “a series of high-quality web videos to showcase the depth of the problem” that will “demonstrate the link between digital literacy and citizenship,” according to the report.
The report, “Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning,” can be found here.
more on information literacy in this IMS blog:
The death of the digital native: four provocations from Digifest speaker, Dr Donna Lanclos
educators need to figure out what they need to do. Are you trying to have a conversation? Are you simply trying to transmit information? Or are you, in fact, trying to have students create something?
Answer those pedagogical questions first and then – and only then – will you be able to connect people to the kinds of technologies that can do that thing.
The ‘digital native’ is a generational metaphor. It’s a linguistic metaphor. It’s a ridiculous metaphor. It’s the notion that there is a particular generation of people who are fundamentally unknowable and incomprehensible.
There are policy implications: if your university philosophy is grounded in assumptions around digital natives, education and technology, you’re presupposing you don’t have to teach the students how to use tech for their education. And, furthermore, it will never be possible to teach that faculty how to use that technology, either on their own behalf or for their students.
A very different paradigm is ‘visitor and resident‘. Instead of talking about these essentialised categories of native and immigrant, we should be talking about modes of behaviour because, in fact, some people do an awful lot of stuff with technology in some parts of their lives and then not so much in other parts.
How much of your university practice is behind closed doors? This is traditional, of course, gatekeeping our institutions of higher education, keeping the gates in the walled campuses closed. So much of the pedagogy as well as the content of the university is locked away. That has implications not just for potential students but also from a policy perspective – if part of the problem in higher education policy is of non-university people not understanding the work of the university, being open would have really great potential to mitigate that lack of understanding.
I would like to see our universities modelling themselves more closely on what we should be looking for in society generally: networked, open, transparent, providing the opportunity for people to create things that they wouldn’t create all by themselves.
I understand the rationale for gatekeeping, I just don’t think that there’s as much potential with a gatekept system as there is with an open one.
There are two huge problems with the notion of “student expectations”: firstly, the sense that, with the UK’s new fee model, students’ ideas of what higher education should be now weigh much more heavily in the institutions’ educational planning. Secondly, institutions in part think their role is to make their students “employable” because some politician somewhere has said the university is there to get them jobs.
Students coming into higher education don’t know much about what higher education can be. So if we allow student expectations to set the standard for what we should be doing, we create an amazingly low bar.
The point of any educational system is not to provide citizens with jobs. That’s the role of the economy.
Universities are not vocational
Institutions can approach educational technology in two very different ways. They can have a learning technology division that is basically in charge of acquiring and maintaining educational technology. Or they can provide spaces to develop pedagogy and then think about the role of technology within that pedagogy.
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