June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.948.1 - 15.948.21
Perceptions of Millennial Student Learning: The Future Faculty Perspective
In order to promote student learning, instructors must understand who is in their classroom and how those students learn. Currently, many engineering courses are composed of “Millennial” students. This term is used by academics, university administrators, and industry leaders in the United States to describe the generation born between 1982-2002.1 In recent years, this generation has created quite a stir among practitioners in higher education and industry. Since the seminal work of Howe and Strauss (2000), many have wondered how Millennials will change higher education and the workforce.1,2 One limitation of Millennial research is that it fails to empirically engage the perspectives of those who teach Millennials. Thus, researchers know little about how instructors think about Millennial students and the implications that these perceptions have for teaching and learning. Concurrently, research in engineering and engineering education has focused on curricular reforms and instructional methods for preparing the Engineer of 2020.3,4 Specifically, the learning outcomes for the Engineer of 2020 affirm the complexities of a changing workforce and need for innovative and adaptive problem-solving. Within the engineering context, there is limited research that merges these curriculum outcomes with the benefits and challenges associated with teaching the Millennial generation.
To merge these two concurrent trends in postsecondary and engineering education, our study provides a qualitative analysis of how future faculty perceive Millennial engineering students at a large research university. The engineering graduate students who participated in this study are experienced graduate student instructors and were selected based on three criteria: 1) they have a demonstrated commitment to engineering education, 2) they participate regularly in reflective conversations about teaching and learning, and 3) they are uniquely situated, in terms of age and professional status, allowing them to comment on the opportunities and challenges related to teaching Millennial undergraduates in various engineering disciplines.
This study poses the following research questions:
≠ What knowledge do future engineering faculty and industry leaders have about the Millennial generation? ≠ How--if at all--do future engineering faculty think Millennial students will affect their teaching?
To answer these questions, we have used the following methods. First, we conducted an exhaustive review of the literature on Millennial students, and identified three striking characteristics of Millennial students (i.e., their preferences for collaborating with peers, connecting with one another, and creating for social change). Second, we followed up this literature review by reporting survey and focus group data collected from the select sample of engineering graduate students. Specifically, the survey includes demographic information about the cohort including birth year, gender, race/ethnicity, and semesters of teaching experience. In addition, we asked participants in the study to reflect on their familiarity with the term
Pinder-Grover, T., & Groscurth, C. (2010, June), Perceptions Of Millennial Student Learning: The Future Faculty Perspective Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16741
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