Exploring Faculty Members' Perceptions of Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Education




Olsen, Mona Anita Kristiansen

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In the United States, there is an increasing focus to create programmatic initiatives that encourage entrepreneurship in order to aid in economic recovery. While seeking funding opportunities, institutions of higher education must determine strategies to be innovative within the university. Administrators want to create practical curricula that will encourage the student body to engage specifically in entrepreneurial activities that will create economic impact post-graduation. Administrators designing entrepreneurship programs do not have access to studies that share faculty perspectives on the growing discipline of entrepreneurship. Faculty members are key stakeholders in the evolution of entrepreneurship education; they are the lynchpin between the professional and the academic domains. The purpose of this research was to explore faculty members' perceptions of undergraduate entrepreneurship education. The research generated a working theory to inform administrators about faculty perspectives when designing undergraduate entrepreneurship programs. This working theory calls upon administrators to reveal the value of entrepreneurship and engage students when defining and designing an undergraduate entrepreneurship curriculum. Using a qualitative grounded theory design, the research consisted of a two-phase data collection process that ran from August to December 2012 and consisted of a 10 minute web-based free write activity and a semi-structured phone interview that averaged 45 minutes per participant. The participants were faculty members from 25 universities listed in Entrepreneur.com's 2011 ranking of top undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the United States. The research identified faculty perspectives on the purpose of entrepreneurship education including: (a) revealing the value of entrepreneurship; (b) encouraging economic development; (c) validating the entrepreneurial lifestyle; (d) explaining the myth of entrepreneurism; (e) articulating how to identify and exploit opportunity; and (f) linking creative and predictive logic. The research revealed how faculty members perceived the connection of theory to practice in their own instruction by (a) assuring relevancy; (b) nurturing reflection; and (c) driving outreach. Finally, the research documented six future priorities for the faculty members in their own teaching: (a) encouraging peer-evaluation; (b) nurturing reflection; (c) guiding experiential learning; (d) adapting to students; (e) generating networks; and (f) embracing new content.



Education, Entrepreneurship, Curriculum development, Curriculum, Education, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Grounded theory, Undergraduate study