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Entrepreneurially Minded Learning: Incorporating Stakeholders, Discovery, Opportunity Identification, and Value Creation into Problem-Based Learning Modules with Examples and Assessment Specific to Fluid Mechanics

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Andrew L. Gerhart Lawrence Technological University

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Andrew Gerhart, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Lawrence Technological University. He is actively involved in ASEE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Engineering Society of Detroit. He serves as Faculty Advisor for the American Institute of Aeronautics
and Astronautics Student Chapter at LTU, chair of the First Year Engineering Experience committee, chair for the LTU KEEN Course Modification Team, chair for the LTU Leadership Curriculum Committee, supervisor of the LTU Thermo-Fluids Laboratory, coordinator of the Certificate/Minor in Aeronautical
Engineering, and faculty advisor of the LTU SAE Aero Design Team. Dr. Gerhart conducts workshops on active, collaborative, and problem-based learning, entrepreneurial mindset education, creative problem solving, and innovation. He is an author of a fluid mechanics textbook.

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Douglas E. Melton Kern Family Foundation Orcid 16x16

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A variety of pedagogies have become well-established and widely used in engineering education including problem-based learning (PBL), project-based learning, case-based learning, and inquiry-based learning. All of these classroom techniques certainly emphasize skill-based learning outcomes (e.g., determine the size of a pump), but they do not always emphasize mindset-based learning outcomes (e.g., identify an unexpected opportunity). Incorporating elements of the entrepreneurial mindset into these pedagogies, sometimes referred to as entrepreneurially minded learning (EML), can enhance student learning and produce a more real-world experience. Entrepreneurially minded learning emphasizes discovery, opportunity identification, and value creation with attention given to effectual thinking over causal (predictive) thinking.

After introducing the concept of EML, this paper focuses on EML within the context of PBL. For a framework to demonstrate how to incorporate stakeholders, discovery, opportunity identification, and value creation, specific examples from Fluid Mechanics courses will be presented. In particular, the PBL course modules will demonstrate assignments that include unexpected design alternatives that the students must discover with scant clues (much like “Easter eggs” hidden in movies or DVDs). When discovered the design alternatives prove to have added value over a traditional design (i.e., value creation). One of the keys to producing these assignments is to incorporate a stakeholder or customer. Because stakeholder feedback is essential to re-evaluate opportunities and/or understanding what is deemed as valuable (i.e., value is subjective), it is important for the assignments to include a real live customer (who can be a fictional role-player). In addition, the examples given in this paper follow a similar theme (or consistent customer) with a bit of added humor. Doing so has shown to create enthusiasm for the assignment and the subject material.

To determine preliminary effectiveness of EML within PBL, both indirect and direct assessment have been performed. For direct assessment, students’ EML assignments were evaluated by the instructor to verify inclusion or exclusion of a set of entrepreneurially minded attributes. For indirect assessment, students were surveyed to determine their perceived extent of using particular entrepreneurial mindset skills during an EML assignment. The results have thus far yielded positive results for students incorporating mindset skills into subject-based matter.

Gerhart, A. L., & Melton, D. E. (2016, June), Entrepreneurially Minded Learning: Incorporating Stakeholders, Discovery, Opportunity Identification, and Value Creation into Problem-Based Learning Modules with Examples and Assessment Specific to Fluid Mechanics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26724

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