2012 Embedding enterprise within the curriculum: researching staff perspectives

Kirsty Grant, Katie Hook and Sheila Quairney

The aim of this study is to explore notions of enterprise within Higher Education (HE) through exploration of lecturers’ perspectives. Enterprise can be defined as the application of creative ideas and innovations to practical situations; it is a generic concept that can be applied across all areas of education. 

Within a HE setting, learning can take place without bearing the label of ‘enterprise’. Enterprise education is concerned with the process of how students learn rather than what they learn. It aims to produce graduates who possess the mind-set and the skills to come up with innovative ideas in response to identified needs, and the ability to act on them. 

In light of the rising tuition fees and increasing unemployment rates for UK graduates, there is greater focus on the responsibility of universities to develop the employability skills of their students. The relevance of enterprise education has been highlighted in The Wilson Review (2012) which called for universities to play an integral role in developing students’ enterprising skills.  Therefore, universities will need to examine their current provision for enterprise education and as a result, work towards equipping academic staff with the skills they need to deliver this.  

The aim of this study is to ascertain what involvement academic staff, at Sheffield Hallam University, perceive that they should have in sharing notions of enterprise with their students.  Secondly, to explore the perspectives of academic staff on how enterprise might be developed within the curriculum to support employability.          

In order to answer the study’s aims, 35 semi-structured interviews have been conducted at Sheffield Hallam University. Participants were recruited through a convenience sample of lecturers, across faculties. Emerging themes have been identified through a thematic analysis of the data. 

The preliminary results of the research provide insight into the barriers academic staff have faced when including enterprise within their teaching. These results will provide an opportunity to discover examples of effective practice in order to assist academic staff to deliver their subject expertise in a more enterprising way.  From this strategies for embedding enterprise into the curriculum, in order to enhance graduate employability, will be explored.

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A6 – (FU33 and FU39) 11.00