A critical perspective on learning outcomes and the effectiveness of experiential approaches in entrepreneurship education: do we innovate or implement?

Jonathan Scott, Andy Penaluna, John L. Thompson

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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to conduct a critical appraisal of how experiential approaches can more effectively enhance the achievement of desired learning outcomes in entrepreneurship education. In particular, the authors critique whether actual learning outcomes can be profitably used to measure effectiveness; and consider how student performance can be evaluated through the twin lenses of implementation or innovation. Design/methodology/approach – The authors undertook a review of both traditional and experiential approaches to entrepreneurship education. In addition to comparing these approaches, the authors critiqued a number of “taken for granted” assumptions regarding the effectiveness of experiential approaches to entrepreneurship education and made recommendations. Findings – Although there is a large body of research on experiential approaches towards entrepreneurship education, the authors know little about how these approaches contribute towards the effective achievement of desired learning outcomes. Whilst many authors claim that such approaches are effective, such assertions are not supported by sufficient robust evidence. Hence the authors need to establish more effective student performance evaluation metrics. In particular: first, whether actual learning outcomes are appropriate measures of effectiveness; and second, the authors should evaluate student performance through the lenses of the two “Is” – implementation or innovation. Practical implications – Whether actual learning outcomes are used as a measure of effectiveness at all needs to be critiqued further. Implementation involves doing things that are determined by others and matching against their expectations, whereas innovation comprises producing multiple and varied solutions that respond to change and often surprise. Originality/value – Through revisiting the discussions on the art and the science of entrepreneurship education, this paper represents an initial critical attempt – as part of an ongoing study – to fill a gap in entrepreneurship education research. The paper, therefore, has significant value for students, entrepreneurship educators and policy-makers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)82-93
    JournalEducation and Training
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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