Developing a conceptual framework to understand student participation in entrepreneurship education programs

Prateek Shekhar, Aileen Huang-Saad, Julie Libarkin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The importance of fostering innovativeness and creativity in graduates has been widely noted in national calls and accreditation reforms to enhance graduates' competitiveness in the global economy. As a result, universities and other higher education institutions have initiated curricular and pedagogical reforms to create learning environments that are conducive for the attainment of 21st century skills such as innovativeness, teamwork, communication, problem-solving and creativity. In engineering, among other initiatives, colleges and schools have leveraged entrepreneurship education programs (EEPs) to instill some of these needed skills in graduates. Although these EEPs differ in size, structure, pedagogical approaches, and curriculum, they generally focus on fostering entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviors, as well as teaching fundamental business content. The development of EEPs in engineering colleges and universities has led to the creation of engineering entrepreneurship as a new area of inquiry in engineering education research. Researchers have examined several aspects of EEPs such as student learning, student career choices, attitudes, and retention. However, two critical gaps remain in the literature. First, there is an overall lack of research which leverages theory in their examinations. Second, there is almost no work examining the factors that influence engineering students' decision to enroll in EEPs. As EEPs continue to grow and evolve, it becomes imperative to assure that EEPs cater to a diverse student population and that research revolving around EEPs is grounded in strong theoretical underpinnings. This paper presents an overview of our work that focuses on examining engineering students' participation in EEPs using entrepreneurship assessment and adult participation theories. The purpose of our paper is to provide a methodological resource for researchers interested in conducting theory-driven engineering entrepreneurship research. We present the three phases of our work on the development of a conceptual framework for understanding student participation in EEPs. Our conceptual framework is guided by the Cross Chain-Of-Response Model of Adult Learning. We explicate our approach involving the identification of key theories in entrepreneurship assessment through a systematic review of the literature (Phase 1), synthesis of the theories into a conceptual model (Phase 2), and validation and revision of factor definitions based on student interview data. Our work identified six factors that inform student participation in EEPs - entrepreneurial self-efficacy, desirability, entrepreneurial intent, life transitions, information and resources, opportunities and barriers. Recommendations for engineering education researchers and implications for entrepreneurship education research are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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