Experiential Entrepreneurship Education: An Instrumental Case Study of Higher Education Student Experiences, Skills, and Perceptions

Date

2023-05

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Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative instrumental case study was to explore the perceptions of, experiences with, and skills developed by higher education students who participated in an experiential entrepreneurial education program. The study was conducted through the lens of social constructivism. An experiential education conceptual framework was used to frame the study. The study site was a large, highest research-intensive university located in the southwest region of the U.S. The participants were nine undergraduate and three graduate students in an experiential entrepreneurship education program. This study's data sources were the researcher's lens, semi-structured interviews, observations, documents, field notes, and the researcher's reflective journal. The ATLAS.ti qualitative software program was used to analyze the data. Member checking, rich, thick descriptions, and triangulation of data sources ensured the study's trustworthiness. According to the findings, participants had meaningful and impactful teamwork experiences, had positive but limited interactions with program resources, and received ongoing one-to-one mentorship. Participants also perceived that pitching experiences contributed to advancing their understanding of entrepreneurship, but there was limited evidence to indicate that all the experiences would result in start-ups. The study found several implications for higher education practice related to a short-duration entrepreneurship training program. Participants felt they needed more time for teamwork, mentorship, and pitching. While most learned various skills, participants with different experience levels were not equally prepared to advance their understanding. There was also a gap between the program's curriculum and participants' desire to work on their own ideas. Finally, while the program was perceived as effective, there was limited evidence that it would lead to new start-ups in the near future. This study presents entrepreneurship training recommendations for higher education. First, institutions should consider an entry-level curriculum for individuals with limited skills in teamwork, idea development, and pitching. Second, program leaders should emphasize program expectations and curriculum prior to registering participants to ensure they are motivated to complete the program. Third, develop a short-duration realistic simulation package that teaches basic entrepreneurship concepts without requiring a start-up commitment. As a final recommendation, institutions should assess the effectiveness of their short-duration experiential entrepreneurship programs and enhance the curriculum accordingly. The study suggests that more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of short-duration entrepreneurial training programs in producing entrepreneurs. It recommends a longitudinal analysis to determine program outcomes and suggests studying a more extensive database of similar programs to gain a broader perspective of participant experiences. The study also recommends conducting qualitative studies on student perceptions of their experiences in both short and long-term programs, as well as studying mentors and facilitators to understand any discrepancies in training perceptions.

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Keywords

Qualitative, Instrumental Case Study, Perceptions, Experiences, Skills, Higher Education, Students, Experiential, Entrepreneurial Education Program, ATLAS.ti Qualitative Software Program, Teamwork, Program Resources, Mentorship, Pitching Experiences, Start-ups, Short-Duration Entrepreneurship Training Program, Different Experience Levels, Curriculum, Entrepreneurship Training Recommendations, Entry-Level Curriculum, Realistic Simulation Package

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