Expanding Our Understanding

Proposed NSF GRFP Project for the Entrepreneurial Mindset

In Student Perceptions of the Entrepreneurial Mindset, Cheryl Bodnar (Rowan University) conducted a project team that explored how undergraduate engineering students defined "entrepreneurial mindset," what they felt were its most important attributes, if they thought having an entrepreneurial mindset was important to their careers, and other factors. The work resulted in valuable opportunities for the student team members, recruitment and educational videos, a peer reviewed ASEE conference publication, and a peer reviewed journal publication.

We are pleased to share that one of the team members, Alexandra Jackson, PhD in Engineering student with concentration in Engineering Education at Rowan University, was selected this year to receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award. Read a brief of her project below:

Project: Expanding Our Understanding of the Entrepreneurial Mindset

submitted by Cheryl Bodnar, Associate Professor, Experiential Engineering Education Department, Rowan University 

AlexandraJackson.jpgAlexandra Jackson has been involved in projects related to the entrepreneurial mindset (EM) since her junior year of undergraduate studies at Rowan University. 

During her time performing research in this area, she has studied faculty motivations for pursuing EM professional development, student definitions of EM, changes in students’ entrepreneurial mindset over their engineering degree programs, and how concept maps can be used to help assess students’ EM. 

In total, Alexandra Jackson has been involved in collaborating on three different KEEN program grants and often times has collaborated with partners from other KEEN institutions. Her research has resulted in three peer-reviewed journal publications and three peer-reviewed conference publications. 

Her proposed NSF GRFP project seeks to expand our understanding of EM by using storytelling and concept mapping as assessment strategies

She shares that “current assessment practices related to entrepreneurial mindset (EM) development of engineering students often includes self-report surveys to determine areas where students believe they have shown the most growth. However, self-report surveys can be inaccurate due to potential biases and professor influence, indicating the need for a more accurate form of EM assessment.

"According to narrative theory, humans think in narratives rather than arguments or patterns, which supports the use of student narratives for better understanding students’ EM development. This study will capture students’ EM development by proposing a combination of narratives and concept mapping activities, which is an existing direct assessment method known for analyzing understanding of a complex idea using graphical depictions of knowledge.

"Engineering undergraduate student participants will be recruited from three different institutions based on research status and engineering population, with an aim to gather twelve students from each institution. 

Deep Learning

"Participants will be asked to reflect on their EM using a narrative approach in a semi-structured interview. Participants will then be asked to create concept maps of their EM, which will be evaluated using pre-defined EM elements that have been identified in prior work and cross-referenced with their narratives. 

"It is expected that narratives and concept maps will result in similar EM elements being identified, indicating that students are not only acknowledging EM’s importance in a professional setting, but also identifying with these EM elements.”

Concept Mapping

Entrepreneurial Mindset Concept Map

Entrepreneurial Mindset Concept Map

This concept map captures the Who, What, Why, and How aspects of an entrepreneurial mindset within the context of engineering education. Use this map in a variety of settings and with different target populations ranging from first-year undergraduate students to post-docs.

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