Lately it’s been quiet on my blog. I have been busy doing a lot of interviews with students at our VCP here in Gothenburg. I am following 13 students in-depth during 2 years in a longitudinal study. My aim is to understand HOW and WHY our students develop entrepreneurial competencies. It is at this stage rather clear that they become more entrepreneurial as a treatment effect of the program. Instead of the usual quantitative pre/post study with control group giving doubtful data with few insights, I have opted for a qualitative approach where I really try to understand what is going on in the lives of our students as they go through our program. I have been told a whole bunch of marvellous stories where the students explain what they are going through and how they are changing as a person. I will try to refrain from telling about all the things going on just yet, in case some of our students read this blog. I don’t want to get methodological problems by introducing bias into my study. But it is very exciting!
One thing I am working with is emotion reporting through a mobile app. All students have been given an app installed on their smartphone where they report every time they experience something emotional – positive or negative. This way I get a lot of information that I can use in the interviews. I remind them of what they have been through since last time, when we meet for the interview, and we end up having a very interesting interview each time. Often people forget emotional events after a while, or have problems recalling them in an interveiw, so this app reporting increases the ability of my study to capture the nuances of the students’ experiences. I can really get into the depth of how and why the program is affecting them deeply and causing attitudinal changes towards becoming more enterprising individuals.
Without revealing too much, I can say that I’ve been able to empirically connect students’ entrepreneurial competency development to specific program design characteristics, which in the future will allow for increased understanding of how we can design entrepreneurship education interventions that really cause students to develop entrepreneurial competencies. Some aspects are common sense, others are quite counter-intuitive.
Having mapped out so many VCPs around the world, and also to some extent proved that this kind of program is so rare, I also now know that our program here in Gothenburg is one of the most interesting programs to study world-wide. That increases the value of this study on our students, since this specific empirical setting is one of the most action-based programs around. Therefore I can be relatively sure that the treatement effects are also among the strongest one could find globally (assuming that higher degrees of action and immersion in real-life settings in entrepreneurship programs also lead to stronger treatment effects, but this is in line with what most scholars say today).