The Generational Culture consists of values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors commonly accepted across a generation. These vary across generations and nationalities. It is important to understand these differences to meet the needs of adult learners. Each generation responds differently to motivation and teaching styles. Here are some of the identified characteristics of each generation as noted by sociologists:

Traditionalists – The Silent Generation

  • Born from 1922 – 1945


  • Born in the middle of the great depression
  • Prefer individual interaction
  • Respect authority, loyal, adheres to rules

Teaching Strategies

  • Recognize their value
  • Keep them engaged and up to speed, but do not overwhelm them with new technology
  • Favor more structured learning environment
  • Prefer lectures or video lessons
  • Great mentors in group settings

Baby Boomers

  • Born from 1946 – 1964


  • Center of attention all their lives
  • Often competitive and hard workers, expect others to be the same.
  • Respect hierarchy
  • Uses technology minimally

Teaching Strategies

  • Prefers personalized learning in class or online discussions
  • Favors class participation, individual writing, and problem-solving activities
  • Good group leaders
  • Uses traditional powerpoints or printouts as a resources


  • Born from 1965-1980


  • Questions authority
  • Task-oriented/Multi-taskers
  • Prefers independence and creativity
  • Technologically adept

Teaching Strategies

  • Make expectations clear
  • Allow them to ask questions
  • Keep materials brief and easy to read
  • Short attention span
  • Avoid micromanaging
  • Relate to the real world
  • Hands-on demonstrations

Millenials – Generation Y

  • Born from 1981 – 1997


  • Sense of entitlement
  • Self-confident, multi-taskers, team-oriented
  • Value grades more than learning experience with technology
  • Want immediate results

Teaching Strategies

  • Focus on communication
  • Provide feedback and use rubrics
  • Show examples of exemplary work
  • Use multi-media, videos, and online documents

GENERATION Z – iGeneration

  • Born from 1998 and on


  • Influenced by social media
  • Short attention span
  • Adept at technology/getting quick information
  • Independent, self-confident, autonomous

Teaching Strategies

  • Prefers personalized learning
  • Quick, specific feedback
  • Prefers information in smaller chunks
  • Enjoys interactive activities and projects
  • Enjoys hands on activities and gaming activities

Remember …

At any given time you will have students who all have different experiences with technology, academics, and expectations in the online environment. Below are some helpful tips to take into consideration when applying engagement opportunities to a multigenerational classroom. 


Prefer traditional lecture and questions. May have difficulty adapting to technology. Come in with a lot of experience.

Baby Boomers

May have difficulty engaging due to not wanting to be perceived as being wrong. Provide opportunities to practice skills without impacting grading.

Generation X

Develop opportunities for individuals to produce results and develop skills that can be used in the field. 


Provide opportunities for collaboration and working across groups.

Generation Z

Allow interactions with other students to occur and arrange for interactive activities to happen in the online environment.

Additonal Resources


The mission of the Rothwell Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence is to empower faculty members in their pursuit of professional growth through diverse offerings for the universal goal of student success.

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