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Exploring Ways to Measure Entrepreneurial Mindset: The development of a Student-Focused Effectual Logic Assessment Instrument

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Assessing Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Todd M. Fernandez Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Todd is a PhD Candidate in Engineering Education at Purdue University who's research is focused on entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship education as a component of modern engineering education efforts.

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

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Nathalie Duval-Couetil is the Director of the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, Associate Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University. She is responsible for the launch and development of the university’s multidisciplinary undergraduate entrepreneurship program, which has involved over 6000 students from all majors since 2005. She has established entrepreneurship capstone, global entrepreneurship, and women and leadership courses and initiatives at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to her work in academia, Nathalie spent several years in the field of market research and business strategy consulting in Europe and the United States with Booz Allen and Hamilton and Data and Strategies Group. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MBA from Babson College, and MS and PhD degrees from Purdue University. She currently serves on the board of the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the role of Vice President for Research. She is also a Senior Research Advisor to the Stanford University Epicenter.

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Effectuation is a theory of entrepreneurial action proposed by Sarasvathy (2008). Research shows that ‘effectuators’ (i.e., expert entrepreneurs) choose non-predictive approaches over predictive approaches when making business decisions. Non-predictive approaches are seen as more appropriate than predictive approaches in situations of high uncertainty, which is characteristic of entrepreneurship. Prior research has shown that students are significantly less likely to use effectuation than expert entrepreneurs. However, research has also shown that within student populations, there are some students who match the highly non-predictive approach that experienced entrepreneurs use.

This paper describes the development and early-stage pilot testing of an instrument designed to measure the use of effectual logic of undergraduate engineering students. The goal of the instrument is to understand student use of effectual logic overall, and understand how students use information about a situation to decide on appropriate approaches. Specifically, the instrument measures the choice between predictive and non-predictive approaches in a series of scenarios that are more or less appropriate for applying predictive and non-predictive logic.

In the study, we examine the development of initial pilot items, item dimensionality, and test-retest reliability. The research and instrument development is based on responses to a set of pilot items from 384 first year students in using a pre-post-test research design. Initial results suggest that the instrument’s items behave as a single factor and closely fit the Rasch model of ‘good’ measurement. Students showed highly stable choices with no significant change between the pre and post-test at the group level.

Pilot work suggests that the items are an effective basis for continued development and expansion of the instrument to the engineering students exclusively. The paper will focus on the next steps of developing and testing a more comprehensive instrument with this population. This instrument will use more than one prompt, with the prompts designed to vary the context of the items and create situations where effectuation is a logically reasonable or logically unreasonable approach.

Fernandez, T. M., & Duval-Couetil, N. (2017, June), Exploring Ways to Measure Entrepreneurial Mindset: The development of a Student-Focused Effectual Logic Assessment Instrument Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28344

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