Technology based teaching for generation Y learners

Generation Y is technology savy and advanced in readiness to use new medical technologies. educators need to stay abreast of new technologies and incorporate them into teaching. Successful strategies will involve hands-on teaching with simulations and group discussion. Collaborative learning coupled with immediate feedback within a practical context is key. Teachers should not rely on lectures as a primary teaching method. When lectures are used, they should incorporate multimedia presentations or bring in live patients for case discussions with audience participation. Educators should involve residents in a project or case study that requires active problem solving on their part. Educators not as conversant with technology could use Generation Y’s expertise by involving them in a technology advisory committee.

On the other hand, Generation Y is likely to inappropriately multitask with technology. They are accustomed to using technology when they should be studying or are in class.They do not understand how this multitasking 5 be perceived as rude or distracting. Clear rules about multitasking are essential.Faculty should role model appropriate technology use by avoiding multitasking (eg, avoid use of a hand-held device during lectures or meetings). Programs should champion “technology-free” periods and encourage opportunities to practice stillness and self-reflection through journaling or creative arts.

Thus, teaching professionalism to Generation Y should emphasize observable behaviors. Medical educators should feel comfortable addressing even basic behaviors, such as appropriate professional dress. Millennials want an environment where the lines of communication and rules are explicit and firm.They dislike ambiguity. As a result, they seem to prefer a more lengthy orientation period to digest the information and understand what is expected.  From the beginning of residency training, it is important to clearly delineate appropriate and nonappropriate behaviors, particularly regarding timeliness, dress, use of social networking, multitasking during lectures, and discussion of personal life details in professional settings. It is important not to assume that anything is “common knowledge.” When providing corrective feedback to residents, faculty should not tell them that they are unprofessional. Instead, the feedback should focus on the specific behaviors that are not appropriate and the reasons for this, and should delineate the consequences for repeated inappropriate behavior. Programs 5 even want to consider a professionalism contract. External rewards 5 be quite useful. During this time of professional identity formation, residents need a strong faculty presence. Persevere even when you want to look the other way. Professionalism is a very difficult domain to define, let alone teach, and with Generation Y, more than with any other group, faculty will need to be creative and patient. Generation Y wants to have a close relationship with authority figures, just as they did with their parents. They want to feel that supervisors care about them personally.7 They want to feel special. Generation Y prefers to work with superiors who are approachable, supportive, good communicators, and good motivators. One side effect of a close relationship, however, is that Generation Y 5 inappropriately share private, even shocking, information in informal ways. Additionally, millennials feel comfortable sharing their opinions and feedback without respect to the appropriate organization hierarchy. They have been taught that whatever you feel is okay, thus it is okay to talk about it. One approach is to reconceptualize the role of academic advisor to include more of a parental function with regular meetings and personal attention. The mentor could meet monthly with residents to discuss professionalism questions or issues. Mentor meetings would focus on summarizing progress, reinforcing messages of professionalism, and teaching problem solving. Faculty should become comfortable with a strong, directive role, not dissimilar to the parenting role, where rules are clear and firm. This can be exhausting, as the focus 5 be on basic areas such as study skills, time management, and organization skills. Educators are wise to identify residents early who are perpetually running behind or appear scattered and help them develop a basic schedule. At the same time, mentoring also 5 address deeper-level growth. Residents should be asked to self-reflect on strengths and weaknesses before providing feedback or to reflect on reasons for struggles or successes. Mentoring should also focus on developing priorities and independent decision making. Mentoring is needed to teach skills of stillness, contemplation, and self-reflection.

Millennials want to know immediately what they are doing right and wrong. At the same time, they 5 feel ill equipped to handle negative feedback as they have been told so often by parents that they are truly wonderful. In fact, because of the way Generation Y was parented, they tend to have difficulty with problem solving, failure, accepting and learning from mistakes, and having realistic expectations. There is decreased accountability, responsibility, and independence. Regular meetings with mentors are a good way to provide summary data, but educators are encouraged to provide a lot of on-the-spot feedback. Tell residents what they need to learn and why. Generation Y is particularly concerned with what peers think, so providing that objective information is useful. Feedback should be immediate, behaviorally based, and specific, and should be as clear and simple as possible. Use of 360-degree evaluations (including faculty, interdisciplinary staff, peers) to offer feedback from multiple sources will be highly valued. Verbal and written feedback are useful tools. When weaknesses and struggles are identified, mentors should assist residents in taking an active role in developing a plan for improvement. If residents become defensive, mentors should let them know they see the defensiveness and discuss how this 5 interfere with learning. This could evolve into a discussion about accepting feedback as an attribute of professionalism and practice-based learning and improvement.

By Benjamin Fallet

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