Intergenerational Issues

Intergenerational learning is reciprocal

Individuals of all ages have many experiences to share across generations. For instance, Baby Boomers may have knowledge and skills to share with their younger counterparts, while younger generations may bring understanding of current cultural trends and technology that can foster fresh ideas.

What students say…

Many students who participated in the research conducted for this project identified that one of the things they valued most in a clinical instructor was the acknowledgement and perception that learning was a reciprocal process between student and preceptor. [1]

Different understandings of the same issue

Some research reports that age differences can be a factor in perceptions of appropriate behavior and attitude in a workplace setting. [2]

Relationship to technology is one of the more explicit examples of this issue.  Younger generations may be used to being constantly connected to their social groups via cell phones or texting, while older generations may experience these habits as unprofessional, distracted or rude.

Remember that …

Many of the students entering post-secondary education institutions today have grown up with the internet and mobile devices as their only method of acquiring information and for communicating to friends and family. They may not be aware that the use of these devices in a professional setting can be viewed in a negative manner.  Let the boundaries about these devices be known to your students in the beginning.

Assumptions about people based on age

Assumptions about particular groups of people in our society can prevent us from seeing people as they actually are. Many assumptions exist based on age, both young and old, and are particularly relevant to learning and teaching situations because they often concern ability, experience, skill level and maturity [3]. Therefore, a reciprocal understanding between student and preceptor may be the key to avoid age-based assumptions.

[1] Boychuk Duchscher, J. E., & Cowin, L. (2004). Multigenerational Nurses in the Workplace. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 34(11), 493-501.
[2] Lipscomb, V. (2010). Intergenerational issues in nursing: learning from each generation. Clinical Journal Of Oncology Nursing, 14(3), 267-269. doi:10.1188/10.CJON.267-269
[3] Lieb, S. (1991). Principles of adult learning. Available online: