Intergenerational Learning in Higher Education: Making the Case for Multigenerational Classrooms

Mariano Sánchez, Matthew Kaplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Educational institutions in higher education both in Europe and in the United States are increasingly integrating lifelong learning in a context of sustained augmentation of age diversity among their students. Therefore, multiage and multigenerational classrooms are becoming more frequent teaching and learning settings. This article argues that multigenerational classrooms in formal higher education may constitute windows of opportunity to rethink the practice of teaching as far as they epitomize venues for triggering processes of intergenerational learning. This type of learning stems from an awareness of differences accrued through individual and group affiliation to diverse generational positions. Furthermore, the article provides conceptual delineation and insight regarding the practice of teaching and learning in multigenerational classrooms. Primarily concerned with how higher education instructors may see and understand multigenerational classrooms as distinctive settings for their teaching to lifelong learners, the authors explore how age differences among students and instructors can be framed in ways that contribute to content- and interaction-rich intergenerational teaching-learning processes. A multigenerational classroom is deemed to be one in which some of its members from various generations have a certain degree of generational awareness of belonging to different/same generations. Against attaching a specific set of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to people according to their generational affiliation, this article suggests that it is the dynamic relation between inter- and intragenerational differences and commonalities that needs to be taken into account when considering multigenerational classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-485
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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