Mendoza Finds the Key to Reaching Today's Students

PLAINVIEW – Ask any teacher and they will tell you the true reward of the profession is when they can finally connect with a student and see that the lessons they are teaching are being heard and understood. It’s a tough task; one that is ever-changing. Finding the key to unlock the secret of understanding has become more difficult than ever.

In her latest book, Dr. Kimberlee Mendoza, dean of the School of Languages and Literature at Wayland Baptist University, gives insight into reaching today’s students. “Teaching Squirrels” addresses the difference between the generations and how Generation Z demands a more active and interactive teaching style.

“It has to be 100 percent active, whatever you are doing,” Mendoza said. “Ninety percent of the students I encountered were kinesthetic (needing to move) and zero percent were auditory. When you think about the old lecturing styles, they are zoned out after 8 seconds.”

Mendoza will take part in a book signing from 2-4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10 at the Wayland University Store. Copies of her book will be available there, or you can order one on Amazon for $15.99.

Mendoza said she stumbled across the research topic while working on her doctoral dissertation in leadership studies and higher education at Johnson University.  She wanted to simply focus on reaching students in the classroom, but as she began her research, she determined that the issue was much more dynamic.

“I wasn’t even looking at Gen Z, but in the research I did I started realizing they are not millennials,” Mendoza said. “These students are completely different than millennials, but we are treating them like millennials.”

Dr. Mendoza has traveled the country speaking on the topic. She began her research about six years ago, completing her dissertation and then publishing an article. As people heard her speak, they began asking if she had a book. Writing the book gave her the opportunity to re-work her dissertation and dress it up with anecdotes and additional research. She also broadened the scope beyond the classroom to show how employers and pastors can use her research to reach their audiences as well. The book also includes information about previous generations and the evolution of Gen Z.

“The idea is to show how to reach all the different generations,” she said. “I think if you understand the different generations, you are more likely to understand the current one and why they are the way they are.”

Mendoza is an accomplished writer with 16 novels, 12 plays, and one other non-fiction book to her credit. She has a devotional book she anticipates will be published later in the year, and she is currently working on some young-adult fiction.