iGen: Maximizing Student Success for the Next Generation

Jean M. Twenge, Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University

Video Transcript

Below is the transcript for the video at: http://youtu.be/eiINKqy732k.

I’ve been researching generational differences for about 25 years and right around 2012 I started to see some pretty big shifts. So I dug into this deeper and found out the end of 2012 was the year when the percentage of americans owning a smartphone crossed 50% and that had an especially big effect on how high school students and college students were spending their time.

So iGen is the generation born between 1995 and 2012 and they're the first generation to grow up with the smartphone.

Turns out, if you look at the surveys from most recently, the last few years, you see that teens are spending about 6-8 hours a day of their leisure time with phones and tablets, and that is a lot of time. That's probably the reason why these other big changes showed up.

So, one of them was teens were not spending as much time with their friends in person. And then the other big change that really started to show up was the shifts in mental health. More college students started to say that they felt overwhelming anxiety.

If you look at attitudes towards work in general, iGen is more practical than millennials. They have more realistic expectations. So they're more focused on what psychologists call extrinsic goals—I want to get the grade, I want to finish the degree, I want a good job. So it's good that they're motivated, it's just the challenge for educators is we don't want them just to be motivated for the end goal, we want them to be motivated because they love learning. And I think that's the real problem that we have to solve, how do we get that intrinsic motivation back, that joy for learning? Because they're going to learn more, they're going to reach those extrinsic goals more if they're also intrinsically motivated.

Back in the late 70s about 60% of high school seniors said they read a book or a magazine nearly every day. In 2015, only 17%, so that is an enormous decline.

Of course what it's been replaced by is the phone. When they are reading on the phone it's short, really really short, snippets and then of course they're watching a lot of streaming videos, seeing a lot of images, so this is the other challenge for us as educators, that we still need to get across complex material, we can't compromise on that, but we need to do it in a format that iGen is more comfortable with and I think that's one of the things that Revel is really good for.

That it breaks up the material into shorter chunks, that it includes these embedded videos, that they have the quizzes to test their knowledge. There's all these things that make the experience at least a little more similar to what they're so used to doing on their phones and their tablets. Yet, at the same time, they're still reading, and they're still learning that complex material. They're just doing it in a way that's more familiar to them, and I think that's one of the wonderful things about Revel.