Generational Differences

Authored by: Thomas C. Reeves , Eunjung Oh

Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology

Print publication date:  December  2007
Online publication date:  September  2008

Print ISBN: 9780805858495
eBook ISBN: 9780203880869
Adobe ISBN: 9781135596910


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Generational differences are the subject of much popular speculation but relatively little substantive research. Among the speculations are suggestions that instructional designers should take generational differences into account when developing instruction and that games and simulations will be more effective learning environments with today’s younger generation than they have been with earlier ones. This review examines the evidence in both the research and popular literature that supports (or fails to support) these speculations. Most of the popular literature on the subject of generational differences appears to rest on limited data, almost always conducted by survey methods characterized by a lack of reliability and validity data. The most recent research based on rigorous analysis of previous psychological studies does yield some evidence of substantive generational differences, especially between those generations born before and after 1970. Recommendations for further research in this area include examining generational differences across the whole spectrum of socioeconomic status and in international contexts, as well as implementing innovative design-based research approaches to accommodating generation differences in the process of instructional design.

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