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An Analysis Of Behavior Patterns In Generation Y Engineering Students And Their Implications In The Teaching Learning Process

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Curricular Innovations

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.197.1 - 12.197.13



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Paper Authors

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Manuel Jimenez University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

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Ana Nieves University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

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Cristina Pomales-Garcia University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez

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Nayda Santiago Santiago University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

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José Vega University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

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Vilma Lopez University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

An Analysis of Behavior Patterns in Generation Y Engineering Students and their Implications in the Teaching-Learning Process


The issue of multitasking behavior and the impact of technology in the generation of students populating the classrooms of today’s engineering programs have created contradicting views among those who advocate for new patterns in the teaching-learning process and those who support traditional methods. This paper presents an analysis of the learning styles and behavioral patterns of a segment of computer engineering students and professors where the pervasiveness of information and communications technologies have begun to reshape the student behavior, creating questions on its implications in the teaching-learning process of engineering disciplines.


“Generation Y” is a term frequently used to designate the cohort of people born from the late 1980s through the end of the 1990s or even the beginning of the new millennium1,2. In some cases, this group of people is also referred to as the Millennials or the Net generation3,4. According to this designation, most of the students populating the classrooms of today’s engineering programs belong to this generation. This particular group of individuals possesses a set of characteristics that make them unique and different from all previous generations, including that of their professors, counselors, and supervisors.

Generation Y students came to live in a world were Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are ubiquitous, the bombardment of fast paced information, simultaneously coming from multiple sources is commonplace, and the integration of both has given birth to several new forms of non-traditional communication. Examples include chat rooms, internet messaging, blogs, e-mail, pod casts, and news feeds, just to mention a few. Such an environment stimulates a behavior in which individuals split their attention into slices to handle the multiple tasks they are presented at once. This behavior, denominated multitasking7,8, becomes prevalent in many of these individuals, and often arises in the academic environment.

Professors, counselors, and supervisors, on the other hand, come from different times. They grew-up in a slower paced world where most of today’s ICTs were considered gadgets of science fiction or luxury items. Also, for this group, traditional means of communication were the de- facto standard and single-tasking teaching/learning processes were dominant.

These particularities tend to create a generational gap between these groups, leading to mismatches between expectations and practices in the academic environment. Such disparities have been observed in other groups with similar conditions, such as in school age students and their teachers while using personal computers6. Moreover, the undeniable role played by ICTs in today’s life brings up contradicting opinions regarding the rules to be applied to their use in a college-level academic setting and the impact they have in the student performance.

In this paper we present the findings of a preliminary assessment exercise aimed at shedding some light onto the controversy and to gain insight into the issue of multitasking as an individual

Jimenez, M., & Nieves, A., & Pomales-Garcia, C., & Santiago Santiago, N., & Vega, J., & Lopez, V. (2007, June), An Analysis Of Behavior Patterns In Generation Y Engineering Students And Their Implications In The Teaching Learning Process Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2996

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