Gen Y learners: just how concerned should we be?

Clin Teach. 2011 Dec;8(4):263-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-498X.2011.00470.x.


Background: This article is a response to expressions of concern from a range of sources, including reports of curriculum redesign to accommodate the characteristics of Gen Y, claims made in the press and concerns expressed by educators in the health professions. Are these concerns grounded in research and if so how can educators in the health professions respond?

Method: Narrative review and discussion.

Results: Generation Y is defined, and beliefs about its defining characteristics are reviewed. The key role of marketing companies in the creation and perpetuation of generalised views of Gen Y is addressed, and a review of recent research related to members of this generation is presented. The more extreme claims of Gen Y as a unique generation are critiqued and implications for teaching members of this generation are reviewed. General advice is provided in relation to teaching and supervising Gen Y.

Discussion: The numerous claims regarding the uniqueness of Gen Y can be found to largely arise from a limited number of poorly designed and implemented studies, often conducted by marketing companies with a vested interest in promoting a belief in the existence of another unique societal subgroup. The limited educational research conducted to date has emphasised the importance of the relational dimension of learner-teacher interaction as a highly valued attribute of quality teaching.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Teaching / methods*