Learning to become an entrepreneur: integrating the threshold concept approach and social learning theory in Higher Education

Lucy Hatt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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This paper presents the entrepreneurship educators’ perspective of how nascent entrepreneurs (students of entrepreneurship in higher education) learn to become entrepreneurs and the educators’ perspective of aspects fundamental to a grasp of entrepreneurship. This research contributes to a wider doctoral research project drawing together the perspectives of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship educators and entrepreneurship students in Higher Education. The aim is to enhance the effectiveness of entrepreneurship curricula in increasing the number and sustainability of graduate start-ups, as well as having a positive impact on other graduate outcomes, and measures of life-long graduate wellbeing and ability to flourish. Taking a social constructivist approach, 11 individual and group semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 entrepreneurship educators across 10 UK universities. Questions were developed around the nature and role of the entrepreneurship learner and educator, the purpose and content of the entrepreneurship curriculum, and aspects fundamental to a grasp of entrepreneurship. Transcripts were thematically coded using NVivo11, analysed and findings drawn. Candidate threshold capabilities in entrepreneurship education are proposed. Threshold capabilities may be defined as those capabilities that are transformative and allow the learner to integrate other capabilities where relationships had previously not been discernible. They are defined by Baillie, Bowden, & Meyer (2013, pp. 236) as “threshold to professional learning in a defined area of knowledge”. Bowden & Marton (1998) argue for the use of ‘capability to act effectively in future professional roles’ as a relevant learning goal. The identification of threshold capabilities enables focus on the most critical learning in the curriculum (Male et al., 2016). The research contributes to a call for more research and the development of a scholarly expertise at the interface of education and entrepreneurship to develop a greater understanding of entrepreneurial practitioner learning, and teaching – including formal entrepreneurship education in Higher Education, in order to enhance effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImagining Better Education 2018 Conference Proceedings
EditorsXin Shao, Emma Dobson
PublisherDurham University
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780907552147
ISBN (Print)9780907552154
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019
EventImagining Better Education Conference 2018 - Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20187 Jul 2018


ConferenceImagining Better Education Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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