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


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