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


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