June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
15.79.1 - 15.79.18
A qualitative examination of faculty beliefs related to entrepreneurship education
As part of a larger NSF-funded research study, this paper begins to examine faculty members’ beliefs related to entrepreneurship education and how these beliefs may be translated into practice in entrepreneurship programs and courses. A total of 26 faculty members participated in a semi-structured interview to examine their beliefs related to entrepreneurship education. These faculty members came from one of three large research institutions having strong entrepreneurship programs for undergraduate students. The faculty members were from various disciplines including engineering, business, and others. The interview protocol included questions relating to faculty beliefs of entrepreneurship education focusing on the following:
1. How do faculty members define the entrepreneurial mindset, or the characteristics necessary to be entrepreneurs? 2. Do faculty members believe that the entrepreneurial mindset is something that can be developed? Or do they feel that certain characteristics necessary to be an entrepreneur are innate to the person? 3. How do faculty members teach entrepreneurship? Is there a relationship between the faculty beliefs and the way that they teach entrepreneurship?
We hypothesize that faculty members’ beliefs will vary and that these beliefs are directly tied to how courses are taught, influencing both course content and the use of specific instructional strategies. We also hypothesize that beliefs are influenced by various characteristics of the individual faculty members. The qualitative data collected in this study provides a starting point into understanding faculty beliefs and serves as a launching point for the next steps in the project.
In the past several decades, universities and colleges around the country have begun to implement programs in engineering schools dedicated to teaching students the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to become entrepreneurs. In 2003, Katz estimated that more than 1600 universities had established entrepreneurship programs in business, engineering, or as an interdisciplinary program.1 This number is continuing to grow, particularly in engineering colleges as the importance of entrepreneurial skills for engineering students is being recognized by a greater degree.
Ohland and colleagues2, who define entrepreneurship as “the initiation of new wealth-creating activities in response to a perceived market need, despite an element of risk and absent or inadequate resources,” list several reasons why engineering students need to be trained in skills relating to entrepreneurship. As the authors note, the perfect product design may not be successful if the designer is unable to use business knowledge and skills to find a “niche” in the marketplace. In addition, many graduates of engineering programs are finding work in start-up
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