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Stepping out of the classroom and up the ladder of learning: an experimental learning approach to entrepreneurship education

Cooper, S.Y. and Bottomley, C. and Gordon, J. (2004) Stepping out of the classroom and up the ladder of learning: an experimental learning approach to entrepreneurship education. Industry and Higher Education, 18 (1). pp. 11-22. ISSN 0950-4222

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Academics in the field of entrepreneurship education are increasingly aware that, while class-based knowledge input is a vital component of learning, the traditional lecture-based, didactic methods of teaching and learning alone are insufficient. In an attempt to achieve 'real, active learning' various interactive techniques have been developed, one of which is to provide opportunities for students to 'see, touch and feel' entrepreneurship at first hand by working alongside practising entrepreneurs. An example of this approach is the Venture Management programme of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde, in which students from a broad spectrum of disciplines work with an entrepreneur on a business development project. This paper presents an evaluation of the programme to date, and considers its benefits and shortcomings from the perspectives of both students and entrepreneurs. The findings of the evaluation are now shaping the future development of this programme and also of 'Implementing Entrepreneurship', a new elective programme in which individual students work full-time for eight weeks on a business development project with an entrepreneur. Lessons from the innovative programmes offered by the Hunter Centre will help to inform the wider debate about effective teaching and learning programmes in entrepreneurship education.