Is Generation Z Solely Digital? How Today's Students Learn Best

All students heading back to school this year are part of the new generation known as Gen Z. Born in the years of 1995-2012, this group is defined by the fact that they grew up with a widespread usage of technology from a very young age. Laptops, software, apps and digital devices have granted them powerful tools to access nearly the entire bank of human knowledge. However, it is important to understand this generation is not solely digital, as studies have found handwriting and analog tools remain important elements of communication when it comes to learning.

According to a recent study commissioned by the Post-it Brand, 85 percent of Gen Z students feel they learn best when they use both digital and non-digital tools for schoolwork.

The study underlines how this group lives in a “phigital” world, a term coined by David Stillman, who is an author, speaker and expert on Gen Z. That is, physical and digital. He finds "Gen Z students are adept and fluent with technology, yet they still value and see the benefits of non-digital practices such as writing things down with pen and paper and especially communicating face-to-face.”

His son, Jonah Stillman, a 17-year old high school student who writes and speaks about Gen Z, agrees, “I can’t imagine life without technology, as I use it throughout the day, even at school. However, when I’m studying for that big test or trying to remember something from class, I find it helps to actually write things down.”

By understanding how Gen Z students think, communicate and learn best, parents can set them up for success as they head back to school.

Harness the strengths of both digital and analog study tools

According to the same study from the brand, 61 percent of respondents use both digital devices and handwritten notes when it comes to school work. In fact, 81 percent stated that they would feel restricted if they could only work on digital devices. Before the start of the school year, talk to your student about their needs and find digital and non-digital tools that complement one another. Perhaps they would prefer to open a textbook and flag key points to remember rather than download the e-book on their tablet. On the other hand, they may prefer an e-book but learn best when they can jot down key facts on paper. Equip students with the supplies they need to study efficiently.

Find a note-taking solution that works

Handwritten notes helped 93 percent of students keep up with schoolwork in a typical week. Whether they prefer to type lecture notes or write them out longhand, students will better recall and retain important information when they extract key details from a dense outline of notes. Therefore, as students review their notes, they should jot down facts and reminders on Post-it Super Sticky Notes. Not only does the act of writing enhance retention, but the notes can stick and restick to organize ideas in a notebook or on a desk, as well as be used as flash cards.

“Using sticky notes is ideal as it taps into exactly how Gen Z has been trained to communicate,” says David Stillman. “From social media posts to texts, they typically write in sound bites. Giving them a full sheet of paper would feel more out of place, if not overwhelming.”

Remember how Gen Z interacts and communicates with others

While Gen Z has spent years texting and tweeting, electronic communication is not the only medium. In fact, 84 percent of Gen Z said they prefer face-to-face communication, according a study called “Gen Z @ Work,” conducted by Gen Z Guru and the Institute for Corporate Productivity. An in-person meeting works well for these students. Therefore, consider setting up a weekly after-school session to touch base with a teacher, or review lessons with a tutor or peer.

Understand there is a time and place for digital devices, but balance is key

Some students may be distracted in classrooms by the temptation to text friends and browse social media, while other students find digital devices are helpful for tasks like researching information for a report or reading current events. Evaluate your student and whether smart phones, tablets and laptops are being used for education-related purposes.

Reach your goal

You’re 42 percent more likely to get something done if you write it down, according to research from the Dominican University of California. Post-it Brand is encouraging people nationwide, especially students, to write down their goals, dreams and aspirations as a way to #makeitstick and reach achievement in the new school year.