Generation Z defined; The 5 characteristics of today's students

Friday, September 09, 2016

For today’s students, growing up with the emerging technologies at their fingertips has blurred the lines of work and social, of study and entertainment, of private and public. They now live in an open book environment – just a few clicks away from any information. They connect in a border less world across countries and cultures, and they communicate in a post-literate community where texts and tweets are brief, and where visuals and videos get the most cut-through.

At McCrindle, we are regularly engaged by a variety of organisations to assist with understanding who Generation Z is, what context they are being shaped in the traits that define them. Before we can engage this generation, we first need to understand them.

So how can we understand the emerging generations and their learning habits? Well, based on our research, here are five characteristics of today’s students:


Traditionally, learning took place in the classroom and the practice and application through homework. However, in the 21st Century, content can now be accessed through technology anywhere, and often in very visual and engaging forms. Thus we have the flipping of education where the learning takes place outside the classroom, but the essential engagement and practice is still conducted at school, by the all-important facilitator, rather than the teacher.


Not only through technology do today’s students interact, but they are mobile in terms of the jobs they will have and the homes they will live in. It is therefore important to think about how you can equip this generation with not just content but resilience in a changing world.


Today's generation of students are truly global, and are the most likely generation to work in multiple countries. They’re the most globally connected and influenced generation in history and are not limited to the local, but are global as never before.


We've called the emerging generation, Gen Alpha, but we also call them Generation Glass, because it is not just pen and paper, but iPads and screens on which they will learn, which are designed to not just display the written but the visual. While today’s students need literacy they also need digital skills to thrive in this changing world.


In an era of information overload, messages have increasingly become image-based and signs, logos and brands communicate across the language barriers with colour and picture rather than with words and phrases. Communicating symbols and pictures with stories isn’t an entirely new concept. Most ancient forms of communication such as indigenous rock art, reinforces the notion that it is pictures not words that tell the story. Visuals are also the way in which the brain processes information best. It can retain visual symbols and images rather than just written content. Our analysis of learning styles has shown the dominance in the visual and hands on learning styles, above auditory delivery form, which has traditionally dominated the classroom.

To find out more about Generation Z, visit our site and if we can assist with any presentations on the topic of the emerging generations, please feel free to get in touch.

About Ashley McKenzie - Team Leader of Communications at McCrindle

Ashley McKenzie is a social researcher, trends analyst and Team Leader of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst she understands the need for organisations to communicate with the emerging generations to effectively engage and motivate them. 

From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms, content creation and event management, Ashley is well positioned to advise how to achieve cut through in these message-saturated times. 

Her expertise is in training and equipping leaders and teams on how to communicate across generational barriers.


Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


social analysis Northern Beaches optimistic charity not for profit research prince george Australian Trends Australian Census media activity workshop investor staying in moderators guide travel motivate litter retirement research report sector wide school 24,000,000 money omnibus research data Research Director city property ashley mckenzie resource award Gen Y australian communities forum owning a home workplace culture NSW tv Financial Planning Association of Australia families couple data analyst mccrindle research seasons Skilling SRE visual employmer fresh culture English winter New Zealand church state Res Vis group session world global SMART neutral bay research pack leader sydneycity suburb student car Mark McCrindle IT Specialists population growth wedding 1968 sydneysiders eliane miles Channel Seven census Hills Shire Council contiki McCrindle Speakers year 7 teleworking rich trends analyst repayments growth communication wellbeing wealth inequality event breakfast The ABC of XYZ Cobbitty-Leppington greatness slideshare Australia Day tips young people suburbs Generation X staff financial market research census data income gig economy sector wide study Charlotte pyrmont brisbane futurist faux-cilise quote James Ward weather internships WA language Geoff Brailey cultural diversity educhat 2012 rental stress baby Australian Bureau of Statistics entrepreneurs of today norwest speakers pack small business rain optus media commentary offenders survey mythbusters product poker master mccrindle tea VET brand paying to work Myth grave decision January 26th balance research services sydney hills states McCridle PSI Aussie cartodb Royals water daily commute the australian dream giving goals australian social research Duchess of Cambridge happiness professional presenters marriage community event Vocational education Financial Planning Association urban living index earnings friendship ideas authenticity Macquarie University economy work-life megatrends average aussie housing affordability Christmas season australian real estate overcast communicate Wagga Wagga children proactive mateship criminal goal forum the lucky country social media recap geomapping participants Kiwi domestic Education Future Forum toys emerging trends capital city communications waverton entrepreneurial darwin cancelling event vegetarian education future report generation Christchurch students the great screenage What is food insecurity? personalities ABS gen z professional development 2016 census social research public speaking chairty sentiments census fail population rising house prices house price rise christmas bondi mining boom going out optus my business awards EFF careers house train hopes celebration safe stats media release Research Executive housing dare to dream urban living data visualisation education research spirituality social lives logan poor hills schools future-proof rise of local society schools students baby names sydneysider new york times learner Northern Territory parents youth unemployment System's Architect researcher Australian schools Northern Beaches Christian School shifts property market hobart cost Financial Planning Week national crime rates huffington post training mentor storytelling sydney speaker casual know the times Bathburst New South Wales social enquiry outsourcing Assistant Store Manager conference speaker relational media TED Wodonga alpha personal growth learn 2014 teachers global generations not-for-profit Jura Coffee sunny days collaboration NFP event home owner baby names report social impact victoria focus group public speaker ashley fell rule keeper potts point the hills shire office opening shopping centre ipswich family focus groups father's day christianity royal baby HSC social shifts Christmas presents Deaths energy challenge entrepreneur Australia street data baby names australia report internship anzac employmee financial planning aged care keynote snapshot sports Tuesday Trend government Word Up ageing DIY mover and shaker public holiday FOMO the changing face of future of work trend SMSF news online young australians organisational culture food bank Engineering Manager population milestone community engagement shbc census 2016 live the dream The Daily Edition VIC mortgage food christian healthy future facts winter blues teacher survey design South Australia university environment work Melbourne weekly earnings hills shire social researchers Australia Day 2017 environmental scanning faux-ciliser 1975 Christmas lunch non profit CPI Caregiver sector speajer commuters year 12 Australians dreaming village commute growing population names 24 million dreams emerging technologies friends forecasting national private wealth Elderslie-Harrington park teach click publication socialising cash Australian Communities Trends business Do It Yourself plans world youth day aged care puzzle Wellington mccrindle vegemite property price hunger Canberra 40 million jobs identity builders future of education earn cars youth Kirsten Brewer insight Sydney keynote speaker clothing travelling speaker sunburnt country demographic trends infographic research visualisation nfp mccrindle in the media speakers interactive relevant ACF17 tattoos renting NBRS innovation NEETs story daily telegraph REIV Conference moreton bay social issues perth crows nest Population Clock brand experience australians staying home more spend conference presentation business index mobile ACT Report infographic wall ACF renter of the future care support affordable #censusfail tableau coffee lovers Love religion gig demographics in the media home ownership baby name predictions fears professional services the average aussie kate middleton wealth distribution volunteering summer housing growth social change screenage TEDx middle class suburban living Channel 7 ultimo global financial crisis woolworths ease of travel dream investing TDE community cost of living society trends future culturally diverse ferry GPO office organisations ACF 2016 Social Trend case study future proof donation post rationalism February 16 demographer housing trends blaxland cica Tuesday Trends residents NT men generational trends high density living debate change etiquette educated menai conferences learning styles NBRS Architecture lalor park Willowdale group innovative ACT holidays cultural diveristy Crime Rates buildings learning responsive household brands baby name trends Australian community trends resilience shopping baby boomers list gender Hornsby Shire Council Andrew Duffin jobs of the future deloitte royal influence ageing population ACF2017 monarchy meetings changing face of sydney marrickville Australian Families australian community trends report manly belief typical australian analysis sydney metro consumer hornsby Tasmania events cold workplace leadership trends of 2017 financial dreams local community 23 million purpose World Water Day Generation Y marketing school satisfaction easter urban taskforce report research on coffee households Scouts volunteer Mount Annan-Currant Hill 2015 professional average Australian 10 years Adelaide high density apartments emerging generations Territory supply and demand women townhouses priorities experience SA social leadership workshop social trends demographic transformations define capital cities affordability micro apartments parenting urban investment home food insecurity Australian demographics trends financial future Valentine’s Day newspaper choice workers royal family employers annual income REIV National Conference Sydney education sector education impact 2020 professional speaker thrive australian follow business performance coffee 1980 increasing densification Sydney Hills Business Chamber communities wealth and income university degree Netflix pharmacy TED talk 2013 pharmacies millenials social commentator engagement panel curiosity award winner crime online shopping consumerism showreel millennials australia budget unemployment trends of 2016 Queensland divorce rate transport apartment 2016 cancelling plans gen alpha millionth qualitative research new office living engage debt future of shopping Work place "know the times" Australian Home volunteers insights work mates wages faux-cilising keynote speaker Gen X wolloomooloo infographics 2017 internet customer charities high density financial fears presentations dessert workforce presentation career generation Z grandparents wealth and income distribution google mother's day trades 2016 census results easy rider land of the middle class australian communities trends report Australian Dream royal politics Western Australia marriages CBD earning wealth apartments statistics holiday rent generations area research in depth interviews low density finance skills house price graphs hello fresh google for education collaborative JOMO education future visualisation demographic bus wage medicine tea tertiary education gold coast Aussies Australian Population VET sector employment local communities networking New Zeland micro the hills salary program teaching thought leadership child care forecast social researcher digital TAS selfie divorce sustainable cancel plans Sydney’s south west financial independence acf15 tuesday housing market FPA not for profit future proofing DESTEL national wealth bureau long weekend social life social commentary ethnography house prices video shopper's pick aussie culture Merry Christmas entertainment Australian communities Real Estate Institute of Victoria local unaffordable school students volunteering data sydney event results population map average sydneysider lifestyle Northern beaches Event generation alpha technology princess charlotte study office space faith socialites meals census results 1994 stay home narcissism sun high school donate cooking conference baby boom Queensland: QLD mythbusting eliane economic demography twentyseventeen Births real Real Estate baby name Jura Australia intern equip life cloudy days trend tuesday