Is entrepreneurship education working? Why Evaluation and Assessment are Key Moving Forward()
Entrepreneurship education includes a variety of topics, tools and methods. Given its complexity and the absence of a harmonised approach in Europe, there is currently a lack of understanding of its effectiveness. However assessing entrepreneurship education’s learning outcomes is essential to determining the degree to which entrepreneurial skills, attitude and knowledge have been developed in the classroom.
Several challenges arise when assessing entrepreneurship education programmes. Given the intricacy of the education system, its multilayered structure and the differences from country to country, comparison is difficult. In addition, the most visible outcomes such as starting a business only materialise several years after the educational intervention and therefore require a longitudinal evaluation. Nevertheless, teachers and practitioners also need to collect information about how they influence their students in the short term in order to be able to adjust and improve their teaching tools and methods. Moreover, since entrepreneurship is a transversal competence, mixing business competences with soft skills, assessment tools need to be sufficiently detailed in order to capture differences in a large variety of teaching approaches. Finally, they also need to include a longer term approach, analyzing employability, entrepreneurship as well as other economic and social impacts of the programme.
Given the difficulty in assessing entrepreneurial skills and competences using traditional evaluation methods such as standardised tests, other types of evaluation tools need to be developed and tested.
There has already been promising work done in this area, for example:
- The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship in Denmark (FFE-YE) has created Octoskills, an app and web-based assessment tool based on the European ASTEE survey. It assesses how students and pupils develop their entrepreneurial self-efficacy, i.e. their self-confidence in performing entrepreneurial skills and activities, and whether the educational initiative influences their entrepreneurial attitudes and intentions.
- The Entrepreneurial Skills PassTM (ESP) led by JA Europe assesses entrepreneurial competences and skills developed through the JA Company Programme, a one-year entrepreneurship programme at secondary level. The ESP is a European international qualification including a self-assessment for students to test their entrepreneurial skills and competences as well as a final exam to certify their business and economic knowledge and skills.
- The Entre Intention Tool, developed in Finland by Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences, measures students’ entrepreneurial intentions and attitudes towards entrepreneurship.
Assessing entrepreneurship education is key for students but also for other stakeholders involved in the process.
- The Measurement Tool for Enterprise Education (MTEE) has a strong focus on teachers’ development. Developed by the Lappeenranta University in Finland, it offers a short and user-friendly self-evaluation tool that teachers can use to evaluate their own education and development.
- Schools and institutions might also want to test their entrepreneurship development in teaching and learning by using tools such as HEInnovate, which provides ideas and inspiration for the effective management of institutional and cultural change.
Results from individual programmes evaluations should also be compared with widespread international tests such as the OECD Pisa Financial Literacy assessment for students or the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and its effects should be made visible not only to education practitioners but also to policy makers.
Young people who participated in entrepreneurship education have been found to be more likely to create new businesses later on and have competences that make them more employable than those who have not received the same education. Also school motivation usually increases and alumni show a better engagement with their daily education activities. Assessing entrepreneurship education is crucial not only to prove that this type of education works but also to enable the school systems to embed it into their curricula.
Evaluations and assessments should therefore be a key component of the design stage of any program and effective and widespread dissemination of positive assessment findings should be encouraged and supported, in order to boost entrepreneurship education within the national education strategies.
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