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


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