Publication Date


Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Phyllis Connolly

Second Advisor

Toby Adelman


Millennial generation, Generation X, learning styles, learning preferences, nursing education, nursing research, nursing students, Productivity Environmental Preference Survey, PEPS, Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Model, Strauss and Howe Generational Theory


A change in the generational demographics of college students is occurring throughout the United States. By 2012, the number of Millennial students, those born from 1982 to 2003, will jump from 44 percent to 75 percent of the total college enrollment. It has been suggested that their methods of learning are different from those of previous generations. The purpose of this study was to identify and compare individual productivity and learning style preferences of undergraduate nursing students that fall into the Generation X and Millennial age cohort. Using the Dunn & Dunn Learning Style Model and the Productivity Environmental Preferences Survey(PEPS), the study examined the conditions under which an adult learner is most likely to achieve the highest level of productivity and learning. Seventy-three undergraduate nursing students in their junior year of college were surveyed on twenty different stimuli subscales. Overall results did not demonstrate strong learning style preferences in either group and demonstrated more similarities than differences. Four areas of slightly stronger preferences were noted: Generation X preference for learning from authority figures verses peer learning and the need for frequent snacking for increased productivity and learning. Millennia} students demonstrated a greater preference for wanting a more structured learning environment and having afternoon and evenings as the time of their highest level of energy for learning more difficult content. Using at-test and 2-tailed significance analysis showed a statistical significant difference between the generational cohorts in the subscales referring to "Authority oriented learner", "Time of day" and "Afternoon". Understanding the academic productivity and preferred learning style preferences of these two groups is important for both curriculum planning and policies to help increase student retention.

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