Enhancing Student Success for Net Generation Highlights Fall Conference Symposium

Enhancing Student Success for Net Generation Highlights Fall Conference Symposium
Urban & Regional Planning professor Hollie Lund takes part in a group discussion about the “net generation” students during a Fall Confernce symposium.
Engineering professor Jawa Mariappan leads a break out session on the ways to assess student success.

Most of the 3,000 freshmen students who will begin their university careers at Cal Poly Pomona this week come from the “net generation.” Also known as the millennial generation, these students born in or after 1982 – grew up with today's technology, including computers and cell phones. While older generations are usually more comfortable with the lecture mode of learning, the net generation prefers peer-to-peer and team learning. Nearly 175 faculty and staff participated in a Fall Conference symposium on Sept. 19 in the Bronco Student Center to discuss ways of enhancing student success based on these generational learning differences.

The afternoon symposium, titled “Millennial, Gen-X or Net Students: Enhancing student success for today's Cal Poly Pomona student,” provided workshops and a forum for discussion among faculty and staff. This unique event was specifically designed to explore the many ways faculty and staff support student learning throughout the university, as well as learn new ways to advance student success.

“This symposium provided an opportunity for some of the best of Cal Poly Pomona to discuss how we're supporting student success,” said Gil Brum, a member of this year's Fall Conference Committee and symposium facilitator. “We wanted to create some excitement and energy at the beginning of the academic year to get the campus community enthusiastic about having students back on campus.”

The opening session began with a symposium overview and video presentation of “Educating the Net Generation” by Diana Oblinger, vice president of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.

Gen-X students gravitate toward group activities, are involved with various extracurricular activities, and most think it's “cool” to be smart. Net generation learners are digitally literate  they don't need to read a cell phone manual to figure out how it works. For most, CTRL + ALT + DEL is the equivalent of knowing the ABCs. They are always mobile and connected. Students of this generation are visual and experiential learners. They are drawn toward community and socially responsible projects. Among this generation, there is a belief that informal learning, beyond a classroom setting, can take place anytime, anywhere and can be taught by anyone.

Following the video presentation, faculty and staff chose to participate in different learning tracks on Creating Campus & Community Learning Environments, Enhancing Student Learning and Creating Instructional Learning Environments. Within these tracks, session topics included Critical Role of Staff in Student Success, Creating Learning Opportunities Outside the Classroom, Creating Intentional Learners, Co-Curricular Contributions to Student Success, Ways to Assess Student Success, and Creating Optimum Learning Facilities. Each session included faculty/staff facilitators and panelists from areas/disciplines across campus.

Faculty and staff who participated in the symposium provided some of the following feedback:

  • “It was a wonderful opportunity to listen to ideas from other faculty about teaching and learning. I really think we should do this more often because it's very beneficial to our students.” Glenda Brock, professor, Accounting
  • “This was a wonderful start to the new year. The energy seemed to build as the afternoon continued. The overwhelming enthusiasm that everyone showed for improving student learning truly made me proud to be a faculty on this campus.” Hollie Lund, assistant professor, Urban & Regional Planning, and director, Center for Community Service-Learning
  • “The symposium gave us a chance to consciously connect with today's college student and their changing ways of learning and becoming an active part of our community.” Dave Johnson, director, Judicial Affairs

As a follow-up to the symposium, Brum said the committee is already working on having Oblinger on campus later this year for an extended discussion on enhancing student success and learning.