People Innovation Excellence

How to Treat ‘Instant Generation’ in Thesis Supervisory

Oleh: Annetta Gunawan, SE, MM (Faculty Member of International Marketing)

I heard some comments from my former lecturers that they had difficult times in doing their thesis since their thesis supervisor had been hard on them. I experienced the same way too in my college years, and I am thankful for that because I know I have been trained to be a tougher person.

But nowadays, I often listen to lecturers’ complaints about their students, especially in thesis supervisory. They say that their students are too pampered and always expect the quickest and easiest way in doing their thesis. I agree on their thought, but I also think that it’s not completely a bad thing.

I called today’s university students as instant generation, which consists of the latest generation Y or millennials (born in 1992 – 1994 / age 22 – 24 yo) and generation Z (born in 1995 – 1999 / age 17 – 21yo).They were born and grow in Internet and social media era, where all information can be easily and quickly obtained through search engines.They hate process and they love instant things. No wonder that they also apply their thinking concept in doing their thesis.

Facing this kind of students, lecturers cannot insist their old methods in supervising thesis. It will be better that lecturers adapt to this change in order to prevent collision. Then how to treat the instant generation in order to generate the best outcome of thesis and nurture the students while keeping good relationship with them?


1. Try to be their friends

Don’t be bossy and ordering them around, treat them as your partnerinstead. Don’t give them instructions, give suggestions instead. Have a lunch with them sometimes and talk with them about trending topics or their personal life. By doing so, you let them be open to you and appreciate your saying.

2. Be a problem solver

I heard my student once told his friends about me, “I always get enlightenment after having supervisory session with her”. That made me reflect on what I have done during his supervisory period, and then I came to this conclusion: Instant generation always wish for a problem solver.You can ask them to think and explore themselves, butthey dislike obscurity, so when you give them guidance, make it detail and specific.Give them the keywords, book references, explanation about the concept of the analysis methods used. Make them be interested to think and explore deeper by giving leading statement about what you want them to do.

3. Adjust your expectation with their ability

Some students can meet your expectation because they don’t have the ability to reach your standard no matter how hard they try. So, do some trial to identify their capability level. When they still can’t meet your standard after a few times of revisions, then it means that you have to reduce it a little bit as long as they don’t break the research procedure. Otherwise, for superior students, you have to push their limit to bring out their potential.

4. Apply fair reward and punishment

Fairness is important for instant generation. You can be angry to them when they don’t perform well or show unpleasant attitude, as long as they are aware of the reason behind your anger. But don’t hesitate to give some compliments to them who are good. It makes them feel appreciated and fairly treated, so that they will not ignore your words.

5. Lead by example

Instant generation is very critical. If you ask them not to come late, then you also have to be punctual – forgetthe old concept that students have to wait for long hours in order to meet the lecturers. If you tell them to have commitment in their thesis, then you also have to commit to provide enough times for them to consult. If you expect them to be mature and independent, then don’t show childish attitude by being moody and unprofessional.In such way, they can respect and listen to you, instead of behave nicely in front of you but talk bad behind your back.

Finally, I remember a saying from someone I know: “Love means continuously looking for the best way to nurture optimally”.


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