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The impact of Enterprise Education on Students pursuing Professional Higher Education in Malta: A Grounded Theory Study

Authors: Ronald Aquilina, Alex Rizzo,
  • Institute: Applied Research And Innovation Centre
  • Symposium: Quality Pedagogy and Effective Learning
  • Day: 1 , Session: 3 , Location: Conference Hall 3
  • Session Type: Medium 15 min (Presentation of ongoing research developments and findings) , Start: 14:00 , End: 14:20

Abstract

This study examines the impact of enterprise education on students pursuing Professional Higher

Education (PHE) at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST). At EQF Levels 5,6 and 7,

PHE is seen to include higher levels of work-related practice and stronger components of impact-based

applied research. In particular, the study maps out the students’ learning process by understanding their

capabilities to generate ideas and to nurture their enterprise skills by recognising opportunities, by solving

problems, by building relationships, and by strengthening self-confidence, prior to entering an enterprise

venture. Relatively little is known on how students, pursuing enterprise education in a PHE context, are

maximizing their potential in order to achieve a higher level of engagement in their enterprise activities

within a dynamic business environment.

The research method applied is that of grounded theory as advocated by Corbin and Strauss’s (2008, 2015)

conditional matrix and Charmaz’s (2006, 2014) constructivist approach. Interpretive and qualitative indepth interviews are undertaken with five participants, namely Master of Business Administration (for the

Small Business) fresh graduates specialising in Enterprise Education at MCAST. The approach adopted in

this study is in line with research developments in recent years, where grounded theory is being used as

a methodology using the interpretative approach to undertake enterprise research (Urquhart 2013). It is

expected that this initial study will be further extended until theoretical saturation is achieved.

An early parsimonious model has been thus put forward that explains how enterprise education

influences PHE students’ entrepreneurial behaviour prior to their engagement in any enterprise venture.

In this research study, findings indicate that the paradigm shift from a direct learning approach to an

applied research component, where students directly interview entrepreneurs on topics relating to their

taught modules, influences significantly the mindset of PHE students pursuing Enterprise Education.

This applied research study comprises several implications for the enhancement of delivering excellence

in Enterprise Education by influencing the PHE students’ skills and competences. It provides policymakers, academic researchers and other educational managers with a theoretical framework that can

provide them with factors that may enhance the skills set of prospective entrepreneurs.

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