Enterprise education and its relationship to enterprising behaviours : a conceptual and methodological investigation
Enterprise education is defined by some educators as a distinctive approach to teaching with the aims of improving motivation to learning and enhancing the development of enterprising behaviours in young people (e.g. Bridges, 1992; Gibb, 1993; Harris, 1993a). However, after two decades of development, there remains a lack of empirical support to demonstrate its effectiveness, or otherwise, in achieving its aims. This is due to the problem of conceptual confusion with the political rhetoric of business imperatives and a lack of a unitary definition. Furthermore, there is a problem of finding an appropriate methodology to investigate the holistic nature of the phenomenon. In order to investigate the effectiveness of enterprise education, therefore, the problem of conceptual confusion needs to be addressed before the key concepts can be operationlised and a potential methodology explored. The Durham University Business School's model of enterprising teaching is chosen for this purpose since the relationship between 'enterprising teaching' and the development of 'enterprising behaviours' was clearly laid out in Gibb's paper (1993) and has been shared by many other models of enterprise education. Hence, the objective of this thesis is to explore the meaning of 'enterprising teaching modes' and 'enterprising behaviours' among teachers with the main focus on seeking firstly, operational definitions of the two key concepts; and secondly, an appropriate methodology to measure these concepts. An exploratory study based upon the discourse interview research method was chosen for its strength of investigating the key concepts in depth. Findings from the ten intensive case studies suggest that the DUBS' concepts were not naturally associated with political rhetoric. 'Enterprising teaching modes' were perceived to be effective in promoting a deeper level of learning, although some modes were found to be value- laden and ambiguous. When these problematic modes were removed, the concept potentially constituted an adequate construct for distinguishing an enterprising teaching tendency from a didactic one. 'Enterprising behaviours' were also perceived to constitute a unique behavioural construct. A behavioural rating methodology was demonstrated to be an appropriate measurement instrument for both concepts. Inferences were also made which suggest that enterprising teaching modes might cause the development of enterprising behaviours in students. The current research results have arguably provided a solid conceptual and methodological foundation for further empirical investigation to follow.