Adapting the Marketing Educational Environment for Multi-Cultural Millennials: The Chinese Experience

By Keith, Nancy K.; Simmers, Christina S. | Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, September 2013 | Go to article overview
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Adapting the Marketing Educational Environment for Multi-Cultural Millennials: The Chinese Experience

Keith, Nancy K., Simmers, Christina S., Academy of Educational Leadership Journal


As noted by Hawes (2004), "Effective teachers must evolve to achieve success within a constantly changing environment." Part of the changing educational environment involves meeting the needs of the technology savvy millennials. Although the definition of millennial differs by source, generally millennials are considered those born in the 1980's or 1990's and in the 20-35 age bracket. According to a study by Zickuhr at the Pew Research Center (2011), millennials were found to be far more likely to own technology devices than previous generations. Additionally, millennials were found to take advantage of a wider range of functions on those devices. For example while most cell phone users were determined to use only two non-voice functions (photo and text messaging), a majority of millennials use an additional five functions (online, email, games, music, and video). Millennials were raised in a technology rich environment. Generally speaking, this generation does not consider computers or digital devices as technology. In fact, millennials may hold the opinion that technology is viewed as such only by those who were born before it was invented.

Technology pervades the way millennials learn, play and communicate. Their penchant for technology leads them to be active information seekers and information creators. They are multitaskers, collaborative, connected and social. The life of millennials is 24-7. Thus, the anytime, anyplace educational environment is well suited to their lifestyle. However, many advanced marketing classes, such as quantitative marketing research, are only offered in the traditional face-to-face environment. Through the incorporation of cooperative, discovery-based, active learning exercises along with much class participation and discussion, the face-to-face learning experience can be made more productive and rich for the new generation of learners. However, the exact same face-to-face pedagogy may prove disadvantageous for millennials who experience English as a second language.

For many "English as a second language" millennials, the English-speaking classroom may be a challenge. Their lack of language fluency as well as the unique nomenclature used in a quantitative marketing research class may leave international students feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and discouraged. A blended classroom environment where some interactions are internet-based may be more suited to the success of students whose native language is not English. One such group may be Chinese millennials.

American colleges and universities are seeing dramatic increases in the number of Chinese undergraduates on campus. In fact, the number of Chinese undergraduates enrolled in American colleges and universities has tripled in the last three years to approximately 40,000 individuals (Bartlett & Fischer, 2011). There is also a dramatic increase in Chinese application volume to U.S. graduate programs. Graduate applications from China rose to 18 percent this fall, the seventh consecutive year of double-digit gains from that country (Korn, 2012). As a result, Chinese students are now the largest group of foreign students on American campuses.

Due to unique cultural differences and communication styles, Chinese millennials may be one such group that would greatly benefit from blended instruction.


With the great influx of Chinese students in American colleges and universities, it is important to understand the contrast in Asian and Western communication styles. Chinese millennials may be as equally technologically savvy as their Western counterparts or even more so. However due to their culture, many Chinese millennials still embrace the tradition of rote learning with heavy emphasis on professorial lecture and do not view classroom discussion and interaction as an important component of learning (Jin & Cortazzi, 1998; Li, 2005; McKay & Shchaetzel, 2008).

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