Original Research: Technology in Academics

Teaching Generation Y

Elza Venter
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 35, No 1 | a1395 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v35i1.1395 | © 2016 Elza Venter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 2016 | Published: 03 November 2016

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Elza Venter, Department of Psychology of Education, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Generation Y learners are those young people born more or less between 1977 and 2000. Different authors call this generation by different names. The author of this article prefers the term ‘Generation Y’. Learners from Generation Y were born into the age of digital information where information, education and entertainment were just a click away. Members of Generation Y use various electronic devices simultaneously for learning and entertainment purposes. Learners from this generation are often unmotivated and disengaged from their own learning experience because they are entertaining themselves simultaneously on a multitude of digital devices, whilst the educator is trying to get their attention. Generation Y prefers multitasking to focussing on one task or person at a time and are often more interested in what is happening on the screen before them than getting involved in their own learning. This generation works well in groups. They embrace recognition and crave instant gratification and feedback on work well done. Educators have to think of teaching and learning strategies to engage them in their own learning by inter alia making use of digital and electronic technology. Schools and tertiary institutions are often stuck in the previous century whilst learners keep up with technological changes. Educators at secondary and tertiary level need to re-think their teaching and learning strategies to make learning relevant and interesting for learners. In this research, the emphasis is on learners and students as well as educators at secondary and tertiary level. The research was done by applying a literature review. In line with the preceding discussion, the main research question of this literature study is ‘How can educators get Generation Y learners more engaged in their own learning in the classroom or lecture room?’ The two sub questions are: (1) ‘What are some of the characteristics of Generation Y that influence learning?’ and (2) ‘What teaching strategies can be used to get Generation Y learners more engaged in their own learning?’ The author of this article will endeavour to give guidelines to educators in this regard by means of the literature study.


Generation Y; Learning; Teaching; Motivation; Technology; Multimedia; Multitasking; Digital devices; Search engines; Teamwork


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