Pedró, F. (2009) ‘New millennial learners in higher education: evidence and policy implications’, in ‘Technology in Higher Education’, to be released later by OECD/CERI

This is a meta-analysis of research on millennials in higher education conducted by the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. The study seeks to answer three questions:

  • First, can the claim that today’s higher education students are new millennium learners be sustained empirically?
  • Second, is there research evidence demonstrating the effects of technology adoption on cognitive development, social values, and learning expectations?
  • Third, how are higher education institutions coping with the widely assumed teaching and learning implications of the emergence of the new millennium learners?

Summary of results (directly quoted from the chapter)

The responses found suggest a mixed and far more complex picture than it is often presented in most of the well-known essays about this topic. To begin with, although an increasing percentage of students can be said to be adept in technology, it is misleading to consider that all of them fit equally well into the image of new millennium learners. As it happens with learning styles, there are different student profiles regarding technology adoption and uses, and in many respects clear digital divides still exist.

Secondly, there is not enough empirical evidence yet to support that students’ use of technology and digital media is transforming the way in which they learn, their social values and lifestyles, and finally their expectations about teaching and learning in higher education. In particular, students’ attitudes towards technology use in teaching and learning appear to be far from what many would wish to emerge as the dominant patterns. Rather, students tend to be far more reluctant in this respect than the image of the new millennium learner would suggest. Most of them do not want technology to bring a radical transformation in teaching and learning, but would like to benefit more from their added convenience and increased productivity gains in academic work. The reasons for such reluctance might be related to the uncertainty, disruptiveness and discomfort that discrete technology-based innovations may cause to them.

This document is an excerpt of Chapter 5 in the upcoming CERI volume on Technology in Higher Education in the Higher Education to 2030 series, which takes a forward-looking approach to analysing the impact of various contemporary trends on tertiary education systems. The document can be downloaded from the Hextlearn site:

For more on millennials, see



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here