Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Individual Level Assessment in Entrepreneurship Education: An Investigation of Theories and Techniques

Academic journal article Journal of Entrepreneurship Education

Individual Level Assessment in Entrepreneurship Education: An Investigation of Theories and Techniques

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

'Long-term sustainable funding for entrepreneurship education and enterprise initiatives will be contingent on the perceived effectiveness of the entrepreneurship education. Evaluating the effectiveness of entrepreneurship education is not a facile exercise of measuring inputs and outputs; consequently, there is a lack of empirically rigorous research to substantiate HEI's claims that their graduates benefit significantly from entrepreneurship education' (O'Connor, Fenton, & Barry, 2012, p. 248)

In an attempt to support new venture creation and innovation at all levels of industry, entrepreneurship education has been incorporated into many levels of education and significant investment has been devoted to its development (Jones, 2010; Fayolle, Gailly & Lassas-Clerc, 2006; Kuratko, 2005; Flewellen, 1977). Emerging in US business schools during the 1970's, the training for and of entrepreneurship has spread exponentially and internationally ever since (Carey & Matlay, 2011; Kuratko 2007; Fiet, 2000; Solomon, Weaver & Fernald, 1994). The link between entrepreneurship education and new venture creation has been witnessed many times (Matlay, 2006a; Shane, 2004; McMullan, Chrisman & Vesper, 2002; Varela & Jiminez, 2001) yet in order to sustain engagement by Higher Education in its development, this needs to be proven definitively and repeatedly by accepted means (O'Conner et ah, 2012). With multiple theories and perspectives on the classification of the entrepreneur, and consequently the enterprising student, assessment instruments are varied which impedes their impact and convergence (Duval-Couetil, Reed-Rhoads, & Haghighi, 2010; Souitaris, Zerbinati, & Allaham, 2007). In the field of leadership for example, the big 5 personality trait model, or five factor model, has been used extensively by researchers giving it legitimacy and widespread approval. In the entrepreneurship field, however, it is apparent that in many cases researchers tend to devise new measurement frameworks and instruments for each empirical study conducted, rather than selecting the most valid from prior work, which would help to consolidate findings (Shook, Priem, & McGee, 2003).

This paper discusses some of the key theories that are employed to assess the outcomes of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education from the perspective of an individual or an individual student. From this, a selection of instruments are chosen and used in parallel on a student sample to examine and compare their reliability and validity in context, the aim of which is to make inferences about their applicability for future research in entrepreneurship education.

Entrepreneurship Education at a glance

Entrepreneurship education has been defined by many scholars, yet disagreement still remains about its explicit meaning. For decades, research has tried to separate entrepreneurship education from enterprise education (Henry, Hill, & Leitch, 2005; Gibb, 2002; Garavan & O'Cinneide, 1994) and while this disentanglement may be beneficial, it lies outside the scope of this research paper. Taking a general sense, entrepreneurship education is defined by Heinonen et al. (2006, p. 81) as 'activities aimed at developing enterprising or entrepreneurial people and increasing their understanding and knowledge about enterprise and entrepreneurship'. Though this definition establishes the main purpose of entrepreneurship education, many researchers believe that its impact is wider, affecting the skill-set and knowledge beyond that of entrepreneurship itself (Lewis & Massey, 2003; Hynes, 1996). Fayolle et al.(2006, p. 702) incorporate these ideals by defining an entrepreneurship education programme, or EEP as 'any pedagogical process that develops entrepreneurial attitudes and skills as well as personal qualities'. The combination of these specific enterprise skills and more generalised qualities is hoped to give students a more holistic educational experience, which would integrate to develop the students' enterprising mind-set. …

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