By Rory Bahadur, Washburn University School of Law
This month’s contribution departs from the format of reviewing and recommending a law review article. Rather it summarizes four separate articles which are published in journals other than law reviews. The articles are:
- “Understanding Generation Z Students to Promote a Contemporary Learning Environment,” available on line at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1005&context=jete
- “How Generation Z is Shaping the Change in Education,” available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sievakozinsky/2017/07/24/how-generation-z-is-shaping-the-change-in-education/#2086c0e46520
- “Designing Performer-Centric Learning Systems for Millennials, Generation Z and Beyond,” available at: https://trainingindustry.com/magazine/issue/designing-performer-centric-learning-systems-for-millennials-generation-z-and-beyond/ ; and
- “The Challenge of Teaching Generation Z,” available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312659039_The_challenge_of_teaching_generation_Z
The reason I felt justified in departing from the usual format of this column is because I was alarmed recently by a discussion on a list-serve by legal pedagogy experts who were trying to minimize the impact of the current information environment on reshaping what we consider effective pedagogy.
The argument made in support of the statement that we don’t need to teach differently in the internet-era was essentially, “We should just keep teaching the way we have because even though information access and portability have reshaped the way the world functions, we don’t need to change the way we have always taught since before the dawn of the internet.” Ironically, even a superficial google search reveals the patent lack of empirical support for that argument.
The truth about how teaching needs to change for it to be effective teaching to today’s students is discussed in the above referenced articles and a summary of the articles’ findings is as follows:
- Today’s students live in a world where information is instantly accessible;
- Communication needs to be replaced with interaction for these students;
- Learning needs to be more learner centered;
- The teacher needs to create a classroom environment that facilitates creativity and critical thinking as the delivery of information is no longer something we need teachers for;
- Because information is now widely and instantly accessible, teachers must find ways other than providing information to grasp and engage students;
- Most non-Generation Z teachers will need professional development help in order to effectively communicate with today’s students;
- Current students are dissatisfied being passive learners and educational experiences need to be fully immersive and these students need to learn by doing; and
- Collaborative learning environments are essential to teaching them. We can’t just be Professor Kingsfield at the head of a hierarchical learning environment as has been the norm since Langdell walked Harvard’s hallowed halls.
Unfortunately, our resistance to confronting the inertia involved in changing the way we teach is no longer a valid excuse if we want to teach effectively to the students who are now entering law schools.