Engaging Millennial Students

Today’s 18-32 year olds have a hard time sitting still for long. They just do not want to hear someone talking non-stop for an hour, or even 20 minutes. The rules of engagement are different for millennials, yet relevant to all age groups. Maybe this group of adult learners is challenging us to be better teachers—to make the learning experience more interactive, interesting and dynamic.

What are common traits of millennials?

  • Confident
  • Limited attention span
  • Likes to work in teams
  • Achievers
  • Ambitious 
  • Family-oriented
  • Tech savvy
  •  Wants acceptance

What are some teaching strategies that we can use to inspire millennials and keep their attention?

  • Use technology. Integrate PowerPoints into your teaching. Make sure the slides have something meaningful to offer. They will let you know if your slides are space fillers. Think of what images you can use to capture and keep their attention. Think of yourself as an author. What powerful words and images can you use on your slides? Use video if you can find some that are relevant.
  • Keep it short and meaningful. If you linger too long on a subject and repeat yourself, you will lose them. Have handouts with the information that they need to remember or give them reading assignments or a research assignment to provide them additional learning experiences.

  • Change it up. Since millennials have a shorter attention span, change the way you present every 10 - 20 minutes. You can use a combination of PowerPoints, short videos, lecture, demonstrations, group activity, puzzles or self-reflection, which is a writing assignment to elaborate on the deeper meaning of the material. 

  • Encourage team work. Millennials enjoy working in groups. They love to provide feedback to their fellow students. Find projects that enable students to work in teams to fulfill learning requirements. Collaborative problem-solving can enhance the learning experience and motivate students.

  •  Provide examples. Providing millennials with real-life examples piques their attention. These examples show how and why it is important for students to learn what you have to teach. You can also turn this around and ask them to provide you with some examples of what you are teaching. This allows for student interaction and lets you know if students are understanding your content. 

  • Feedback. Millennials expect feedback. This group of adult learners is used to getting feedback from parents, peers and other mentors. They thrive when they received feedback. It helps them to understand where they are in their process of achieving their goals. 

Integrating these teaching strategies benefits adult learners of all ages. Tapping into our creative side will help us address the millennials’ needs and, in turne, make us better teachers. The days of standing in front of the class lecturing for fifty or more minutes are over. Thank goodness!

Dawn Fleming  will lead the session "Be That Teacher the Students Rave About" at the AMTA 2015 Schools Summit, February 12-13 in Tampa, Florida.  Read more about Dawn's session and reserve your place at the premier school's event!

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Dawn Fleming is a holistic health instructor, trainer, and mentor. She is the Director of Energy Transformations School of Energy Healing and the author of Teaching Workshops Effectively, Navigating the Continuing Education Approval Process, and Creating a Successful Holistic Health Practice. Her website is http://www.energytransformations.org

"AMTA is very supportive. I definitely am glad I chose to be an AMTA member."

Bailey L., AMTA member since 2016