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


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