Millennial Learners

Millennial Learners

Who are millennial learners?

Every time I say something that my sister doesn’t know, she pulls out her iPhone and looks it up. She never trusts things I say unless she confirms it on the Internet. Why is that? Well, she’s born in 1990, making her smack in the middle of the millennial generation.  

Why am I pointing this out? Well, as you may notice, the students you are trying to engage, connect and teach are quite different from you.

They are the millennials. Born from 1982-2004, this generation of learners grew up with Internet. They don’t use a card catalog, they use Google search engine.

How to educate millennials

The generational divide means you have to get away from podium-based lectures.

Stanford's own Dr. Charles Prober and Chip Heath, Ph.D  have highlighted a need to change the way we’re educating the young medical minds of tomorrow. In their 2012 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, they focus on a need to immediate grab the attention of the learners and ignite the innate curiosity of the learners.

Dr. Christy Price  from Dalton College spent some time looking at this serious disconnect between what professors think they’re teaching, and what the students are actually learning.

She summarized her findings into these key themes:

  • Relevance: connect the subject material with current events and culture
  • Rationale: they will more likely follow policies if they’re given the reasoning behind them
  • Relaxed: students thrive in less formal and constrictive environment
  • Rapport:want a strong connection with their educators
  • Research-based Methods: prefer variety of learning methods

Also, for teaching in any discipline, the American Psychological Associate gives these tips for engaging millennials in the classroom.

How this applies to education

1.      Diversify your teaching modalities: use audio and video clips, and let students practice using task trainers for specific physical tasks.

2.      Directly relate the material to them: use a case-based scenario as a jumping-off point for discussion.

3.      Collaborate and exchange: open up a dialogue with your students and let their inquiries and curiosity lead the way to further discussion.

Stanford innovations

One of the Stanford innovations in medical education using this interactive teaching style is simulated rounds in the Medicine 300A clerkship.  Drs. Kugler and Chi, the instructors, use a combination of a case scenario for a common situation in medicine, followed by a simulation with mannequin in the Center for Immersive and Simulated Learning at the Stanford School of Medicine. For example, to walk through a case where a patient reports shortness of breath, they would use a mannequin and projected audio to simulate taking the history of the complaint and the physical exam findings of this patient. This training has been able to illustrate  potential gaps in learners’ knowledge and teach other intrinsic skills such as how to communicate with a patient.  It also teaches students to manage acute problems as they come along rather than spouting off memorized passages from a textbook.

A few ways that the Stanford School of Medicine is leading this change in medical education:

·         Stanford Medicine Interactive Learning Initiatives on Interactive Learning

·         Stanford Medicine Interactive Learning Intiatives, Pilots

·         Stanford Medicine’s flipped classrooms

What tools or tips do you have to engage millennial learners in higher education?  Have a question about how to engage your medical students or residents?  Please add a comment below.