Opportunity–oriented problem–based learning for enhancing entrepreneurship of university students

Karine Oganisjana

Abstract


Purpose. The paper is aimed to present the new approach to the promotion of university students’ entrepreneurship which was elaborated and researched in the Faculty of Engineering Economics and Management of Riga Technical University within the study course „Economics of Entrepreneurship”.

Methodology. It is argued that opportunity identification (Baron, 2006), opportunity creation (Sarasvathy, et al., 2003) and opportunity development (Virtanen, 2010) are the prerequisites for the creation of new economic values which makes the heart of entrepreneurship (Drucker, 1993). In order to make the study process more entrepreneurship enhancing, it is necessary to avoid traditional teaching and learning methods such as lectures, literature reviews and examinations (Gibb, 2002). Instead, the working out of opportunity-centered (Rae, 2003) and problem-based (Tan & Frank, 2006) study models, maximally “pushing” students into entrepreneurship through the structuring of learning like an entrepreneurial process (Hjorth & Johannisson, 2007) should become the key elements of contemporary advanced education for entrepreneurship. Therefore the “Opportunity-oriented 7-step-problem-based learning model for developing students’ entrepreneurship” (Oganisjana, 2015) was elaborated and tried out in secondary schools of Latvia and Malaysia within ASEM (Asia-Europe Lifelong Learning Research HUB) from 2011 to 2014. The analysis of the results of the research served as a basis for adapting this model for university students with its further application in practice within the framework of the National Research Program EKOSOC-LV in the autumn semester of 2014. It was qualitative research for discovering the aspects of the new approach to the teaching and learning process and getting students’ feedback in the beginning and in the end of the course. Students filled in Google Drive electronic forms and sent them to the authors. The questions of the reflections concerned what students liked and disliked in the course, what and who helped or disturbed them while working in teams, what and who surprised them, what they considered in the course to be especially important to them and what they would recommend to change, etc. The qualitative content analysis of the texts of the reflections provided the discovery of the factors which promote and hinder the opportunity–oriented problem-based teaching and learning for entrepreneurship in the university.

Results. Students evaluated the course very positively, mentioning: 1) the given opportunity to solve real life problems and work with entrepreneurs; 2) development of their creativity, presentation, analytical and social skills, 3) the democratic atmosphere and teachers’ enthusiasm, professionalism and positive attitude towards them. However there was certain criticism related to overload with work, not clear instructions in some cases and the time of the lectures which took place very early in the morning.

The theoretical contribution. The paper presents an entrepreneurship promoting study model, which links and unites two stages of lifelong learning: secondary school and university, thus making a universal theoretical basis for solving this topical educational problem.

Practical implications “Opportunity-oriented 7-step-problem-based learning model for developing students’ entrepreneurship” can be an appropriate basis for organising studies not only in secondary schools and universities, but as well in adult and kindergarten education.

Keywords: development of entrepreneurship, opportunity-oriented learning, problem-based learning.

Paper type: Research paper.

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