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    Date

    4/27/2023

    Authors
    1. Santander X Explorer
    Categories

    4/27/2023

    News

    6 minutes of reading

    Generation Z wants to learn like this: community vs. validation


    Authors
    1. Santander X Explorer
    Categories

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    In recent editions of Explorer, we have come across a repeated request from participants in the programme: they demand a figure who “corrects” their deliverables, who tells them whether they have “passed” or “failed.” In short, they want someone to validate what they are doing. But our methodology differs from this, especially at such an early stage of entrepreneurship; other systems are equally (or even more) effective in letting them know if they are on the right track.

    Analyses of Generation Z indicate that they are highly independent in their learning processes. Numerous reports define those born after 1995 as learners who are highly focused on practical methods of acquiring knowledge; they are looking for direct implications or a connection to real life. We are talking about digital natives who know how to use technology to be more productive and efficient. In addition, they use all the sources of information available to them (and they are many and immediate) to become practically self-taught. 

    Thus, it seems easy to deduce that the methodology used in Explorer should adapt perfectly to their premises: flexibility when it comes to tackling the modules, tasks that, although they must be delivered within a specific timeframe, can also be completed with complete freedom. Even the immediacy of technology we mentioned earlier plays in our favour: it causes shorter attention spans, but they are counterbalanced with smaller information pills. This is known as microlearning, which encourages dynamism, motivation, and knowledge retention.

    In case we wanted more signs that we were on the right track, experiments had shown that eliminating grades on assignments or exams was beneficial for learning, as it removed the pressure to “pass” and to conform to a quantitative rather than a qualitative standard. Excellent: our decision not to grade deliverables was wonderful, and everyone should be delighted. But, to our surprise, it was not.

    In Explorer, we have encountered, edition after edition, participants (not a few) who ask for a figure to validate the tasks they have to deliver and tell them if what they are doing is correct. And that has forced us to pay attention to the other side of the coin: the studies, as mentioned earlier, point out that, despite their proactivity, students need the motivation and support of their teachers to perceive their skills and strengths before trying other teaching methods. As we advanced in our first post on how Generation Z wants to learn, remember that they feel isolated and alienated. 

    Social networks are their escape route and, at the same time, exacerbate the problem: they use them to build their personal brand, but they don’t want to be defined by them. They seek validation and inclusion but want to differentiate themselves from others. They crave companionship but are made to realise that they are alone. In short, it confronts them with an ever-changing world, and they seek security. But holding their hand is not the solution to make them gain confidence. After analysing the pros and cons, we have reaffirmed our method for the fact that it is crucial for their future professional performance: they have to learn to make mistakes. We take this feedback into account, of course, but for now, we are reluctant to surrender to the request for a figure to grade their tasks, at least in such early stages of the venture. 

    Here, paradoxical as it may seem, social networks are our allies, not the enemies that it is easy to blame to simplify the problem. When we talked about WhatsApp as a learning tool, we explained that one of the methodological pillars of the programme is based on community: we want peer-to-peer feedback to be the first step to seeking the criteria of many other people. The market will validate their work and tell them if they are on the road to success with their idea. And they always have the safe space of the Q&A sessions in which a more experienced person guides them on submitting the deliverables and solves their doubts. But they never, ever validate or score the tasks.

    This method has another advantage: from the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, Explorers understand that there are as many ways to approach problems as there are opinions. In this way, they are not left with the verdict of someone in a position of “power” (being a teacher or expert, they understand that they know more than they do). If such a figure is incorrect, it can be very toxic, even more so at such an early stage. Peer learning eliminates this risk and makes participants face their uncertainties, a process from which they emerge strengthened, whether they have realised their project or not. And that will stay with them all their lives.

    Sources:

    https://seaopenresearch.eu/Journals/articles/SPAS_21_12.pdf

    https://www.aecf.org/blog/what-are-the-core-characteristics-of-generation-z

    https://www.sg.org.za/what-is-generation-z-and-what-does-it-want/

    https://observatorio.tec.mx/edu-news/microaprendizaje-en-el-aula/

    https://hechingerreport.org/teachers-voice-i-abandoned-grading-my-students-and-stopped-taking-attendance-heres-what-happened/

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