The Blues

Only now have I found a space to breath and write up a supervision meeting held on 26th March.  A month of meeting deadlines, but little or no progress on the main event – my thesis.  The real writing plan was meant to start in April – 2,500 words a week.  Huh.  I wrote 2,500 ish for a conference abstract over Easter so that makes me 7,500  words down.  Boo.

the blues

However, getting back to the supervision I’m meant to be writing up.  On the plus side – the good news is….I don’t need any more data!  As long as I’m clear about the limitations of what I’ve got emphasising context specific perspectives, it’s a qualitative study in any case – it’s not about numbers.

We discussed the responses in the concept mapping sessions.  How much of their response is influenced by the curriculum they have been exposed to – have they just told me what they’ve been told?  Have the told me what they think is the “right answer” – what I want to hear?

This is a perennial issue of asking students about the curriculum.   Collecting more data from more students wouldn’t resolve this problem.

I will need to discuss this issue in the methods section – it appeared to me that students were interacting as if there was a right answer and the game was to answer the question “correctly”.

It will be interesting to look at any convergence between what the students were saying and their concept maps and what the other groups (educators and entrepreneurs) have said.

We moved on to discuss some of the concept maps that I have translated into electronic format so far.  Some maps look like just a list of “buzz” words – it could be argued that this is mimicry and indicate they are in a pre-liminal space.

On one map – the way they have treated “team work” might be a bit more threshold-y – it looks like they might be changing how they think about working in teams.

On most maps it’s clear that they cannot separate the idea of an entrepreneur from entrepreneurship.  There might be a shift when they move from not seeing, to seeing a separation between entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur.

Maybe the realisation that networking is more than a SKILL, team working is more than a SKILL.  The difference might be where the threshold lies.  That’s more of a socio-cultural thing.

Perhaps think more about PRACTICES than SKILLS.

Practices could be regarded as skills applied in a particular way.  Skills might be said to be used more mechanistically with consideration of context and means of application.

The idea of INPUTS and OUTPUTS might be quite interesting – as a way of analysing the concept maps.  What I have done by way of analysing the concept maps is interesting and looks like it might be generating something but it’s not clear what yet.  A lot more will come through comparison – comparing one concept map with another.  Looking at the differences between years of study of the students.

My positionality will be important – what I see in the maps will be different because of who I am and what I do.  I teach this stuff to people like them.  It gives us a glimpse of how difficult the maps will be to interpret without further explanation – i.e. interviewing the students.  We’ll never know what they really meant when they chose to put “that” “there”.

I need a structured way to approach them, combined with a qualitative, interpretavist approach – “this is what I think it means.”

Some criticisms of Threshold Concept research has been around how thin it was on the student side of things.  It could be because it’s so difficult to research – as I’ve found.  This is worth while discussing.  There could be limitations in the methodology.  All sorts of things were thrown open about researching Threshold Concepts from a student’s perspective.

Are entrepreneurship educators the furthest away from their practice – the practice of entrepreneurship?  Compared to Law – Lawyers, Medicine – Doctors.

We’re trying to teach more than knowledge – it’s more about practice.  Do educators need to have more experience in practice to have credibility in the classroom?  I could raise this as a question for discussion.

Coming round to Wenger and communities of practice again.  To become a member of a community of practice, you have to be able to see yourself there – like Mr Ben.

Mr ben

You have to be able to imagine it first.  Dream it then be it. Legitimate peripheral participation.  I might be able to extend this theory a little?

This ability to imagine their future selves could be what separated the students in the workshops.

I was reassured that my analysis of the concept maps so far was on the right track and will facilitate cross map analysis.  There will be some mileage in comparing the student and the entrepreneur data – in a discussion chapter.  There will be other things to say about the impressions that the maps make  – the raw data on the flip chart paper.

It was suggested that I get hold of Peter Davis’ chapter in one of the conference proceeding books on “Threshold Practices.” I need to ask again for the reference as I cannot find it.

What we’re talking about is disciplinary yes but possibly more complex.  Entrepreneurship as a way of doing and being and practising.

I need to remind Julie to send me some of the abstracts that she has that have been submitted to the Ohio conference this summer – as she said they are moving away from the traditionally disciplinary side to it.

I was also directly to Eric Meyer’s chapter in the book of the proceedings of the Durham conference (2014/5?) where he talks about threshold capabilities.

Also see

Baillie, C., Bowden, J.A. & Meyer, J.H.F. High Educ (2013) 65: 227.

There might also be a link to Dai Hounsell Wales who is looking at physiotherapy, bringing together threshold concepts with ways of practicing and the work of Caroline Baillie above.

We ended the discussion there.  I think there is a path emerging around communities of practice, practice and capabilities in entrepreneurship education.

Subsequently I have worked on a conference abstract – looking at entrepreneurship as a practice, drawing on the educator interviews.  Rather than referring to entrepreneurs, the call encouraged me to call them “entrepreneurial practitioners” – which is an interesting distinction.  I am engaged in “entrepreneurial practitioner learning” – and argued that it starts or can start in higher education for some.  I also drew on the work of Shulman and signature pedagogies for the professions and started to examine entrepreneurship as a profession.  What is the relationship between professions and practices?  Is it always implied that a professional practices their profession?  Also exploring the process of becoming – so in order to be an entrepreneur, first you need to become one.  Also link to taxonomies of knowledge – Bloom and Higgs’ SOLO taxonomies.

This has implications for curriculum design – and a need to focus on the cultivation of desirable attitude and how these might be measured and assessed.

Then it also links to the overall purpose of higher education – I am increasingly of the view that the purpose of entrepreneurship education is to enable students to become entrepreneurial practitioners – so it is about increasing the number and sustainability of new ventures.

By doing so, even the students that do not ultimately become entrepreneurs will also benefit from coming on the journey as it will improve graduate outcomes across the board and other measures of well being and flourishing.