Measuring enterprise potential in young people : developing a robust evaluation tool
Enterprise education is a mandatory part of the national curriculum, and all secondary schools in England must provide some kind of enterprise education for pupils. This ranges from work experience and enterprise programmes delivered by voluntary organisations, to economic literacy classes. The aims and objectives of these programmes are many and varied, making the task of evaluating them fraught with difficulties. Indeed, many evaluation studies of enterprise initiatives in general, have been criticised for a lack of scientific rigour. If there is inadequate empirical evidence about the efficacy of these programmes, then how do schools decide which ones to choose? How do programme providers develop their content and reach intended target populations? Worse, how do policy makers make decisions based on the varied and often contradictory aims and objectives of enterprise initiatives, about the design and development their policies? The aim of this research is to try and help to answer some of these questions by developing a methodology for evaluation studies that could be widely used on enterprise education programmes. By using the same methodology, comparisons can be made between different programmes, and take into account the differential impacts on different populations. Specifically, the main objective was to develop a robust programme evaluation tool, which could be widely used to evaluate enterprise education programmes targeted at young people in schools. This research involved the design and piloting of an attitude scale to measure enterprise potential in young people still at school. The development of the scale involved following accepted procedures for scale development, including reliability and validity testing. Two pilot studies are reported in this thesis, along with a longitudinal evaluation of a year-long Young Enterprise Company Programme. By using the attitude scale it was possible to design a methodology using pre-and posttesting, with control groups. Scores on the attitude scale were then compared using a series of statistical tests. This approach was thus able to overcome many of the criticisms frequently made of evaluations of enterprise initiatives. The scale enables researchers to take into account other moderating factors, which may influence attitudes towards enterprise. For policy makers the scale can provide evidence of the efficacy of different types of enterprise education programmes for different target groups, thus helping to identify how best to target resources and investment. The attitude scale can also highlight the potential impact of contextual and demographic factors such as type of school, ethnic background, and a family background of business ownership.