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Entrepreneurship education is a learning process that is meant to influence attitudes, behavior and values or intentions towards entrepreneurship as a career option or as a means to participate in the development of the individual’s role in the community (Mwasalwiba, 2010). Literature suggests that the past two decades have witnessed significant growth in entrepreneurship education programs in most countries (Carey & Matlay, 2008; Katz, 2008). In their view, Carey and Matley (2008) attribute this significant growth of entrepreneurship education programs to global belief in the positive impact that entrepreneurship can have on the socio-economic and political infrastructure of a nation.
Public policy makers recognize the importance of entrepreneurship as promoter of economic development and hence support entrepreneurship education programs to increase entrepreneurial activity (Fayolle, Gailly, & Lassas-Clerc, 2006). The European Commission, for example, reports that the primary purpose of entrepreneurship education is to promote entrepreneurial attitudes, develop entrepreneurial intention and influence mindsets of potential entrepreneurs (European Commission, 2010) hence recommends integrating entrepreneurship fully into university curricula. Elsewhere, Mwasalwiba (2010) asserts that the purpose of entrepreneurship education involves development of entrepreneurial culture, spirit, and attitudes which lead to creation and growth of start-ups and hence job opportunities.
Johannisson (1991) provides a classification of levels of learning or learning dimensions that are generally fused into the course content for achieving the objectives of entrepreneurship education. These learning dimensions should include entrepreneurial skills namely: “know-why” which reflects personal values and interest in learning and performing entrepreneurial behaviors; “know-who” reflecting learning at social level by interacting with entrepreneurial people, such as entrepreneurship teachers, business project mentors, and classmates. “Know-what” refers to the “theoretical part” of entrepreneurship, including definitions and basic concepts of entrepreneurship, knowledge of business management and new venture creation. “Know-how” is the practical part of entrepreneurial learning. Empirically, Johannisson’s (1991) learning dimensions have been adopted by researchers (Souitaris, Zerbinati, & Al-Laham, 2007; Fayolle et al., 2006) in entrepreneurship education in recent years. This study will therefore adopt learning dimensions as propounded by Johannison (1991) as items of entrepreneurship education course content.
Through various pedagogical approaches, entrepreneurship education course content can enhance entrepreneurship skills and knowledge as well as an understanding of the benefits of entrepreneurship (von Graevenitz, Harhoff, & Weber, 2010; Marques, Ferreira, Gomes, & Rodriguez, 2012). According to Kolb and Kolb (2005) pedagogical approaches to teaching entrepreneurship include traditional and non-traditional methods. Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been taught in classrooms using didactic approach, well-known as “teacher centered” where the students gain knowledge as the teacher is teaching. Non-traditional methods of learning entrepreneurship include experiential learning. Experiential learning is a process in which a student can create knowledge, skills and values from direct experience (Kolb & Kolb, 2005).
Entrepreneurial intention is the cognitive state of mind immediately prior to executing a behavior (Izedomni & Okafor, 2010). Thus, an entrepreneurial intention is concerned with the inclination of a person to start an entrepreneurial activity in the future. Intentions are said to be a strong predictor of future entrepreneurial behavior (Linan & Chen, 2009; Souitaris et al., 2007). In this sense, intention acts as a force that propels entrepreneurial intention and behavior hence a catalyst for action (Fayolle et al., 2006).
Previous studies suggest that intention is a reliable predictor of entrepreneurial actions as starting a new venture is typically a planned behavior and therefore applicable for intention models (Haase, & Lautenschlager, 2010; Schwarz et al., 2009). It is therefore, a key determinant of the action of new venture creation moderated by exogenous variables such as personality traits, attitudes and education.
Individual characteristics refer to one’s personal background factors such as age, gender and family background, among others ( ). Several researches suggest that the willingness to start and grow an enterprise depends on individual’s characteristics (Shirokova, Osiyevskyy, & Bagatyreva 2015; Mueller, 2006; Zhao, Seibert, & Hills, 2005). This study focuses on these personal background factors namely: age, gender and family background.
Entrepreneurship education can contribute to intention by fostering the right mindset, by raising awareness of career opportunities as an entrepreneur or as a self-employed person, and by providing relevant business skills. McMullan and Shepherd (2006) argue that entrepreneurship education not only improves knowledge, skills and information needed to pursue an opportunity but also equips individuals with analytical ability and knowledge of entrepreneurial process. Similarly, Nabi and Holden (2008) contend that entrepreneurship education is a human capital investment to prepare a student to start a new venture through integration of experience, skills and knowledge important to develop and expand a business. Other scholars posit that entrepreneurship education aims at equipping people with skills and enhances their abilities to recognize, evaluate, marshal resources and to initiate and run the business (Fayolle & Gailly, 2008; Solomon, 2007).
Empirical studies that have investigated the influence of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurial intention of participants are less unanimous on the results. While some scholars report positive effects (Bae et al., 2014; Otuya et al., 2012; Ngugi et al., 2012) others find mixed (von Graevinitz et al., 2010) and negative (do Paço, Ferreira, Raposo, Rodriguez, & Dinis, 2013; Marques et al., 2012; Oosterbeek, van Praag, &, Ijsselstein, 2010; Olomi & Sinyamule, 2010; Souitaris et al., 2007).
Bae et al. (2014) conducted a meta-analysis that focused on the relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial intention among the youth in Belgium. The findings suggest a significant but small correlation between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial intention. However, Bae et al. (2014) report that when they controlled for pre-education intention of respondents, post-education intention was not significant. Other scholars, Otuya et al. (2012) also conducted a survey on the influence of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurial intention using a sample of university students in Kenya. Based on the theory of planned behaviour, the findings show that entrepreneurship education positively influences entrepreneurial intentions. In another study, Ngugi et al. (2012) used Shapero’s Model to determine the relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial intention among university students in selected universities in Kenya. The findings further confirm that entrepreneurship education process may help to develop entrepreneurial intention and the necessary abilities to be an entrepreneur among students.
A number of studies, however, have found that entrepreneurship education has either no discernible influence or a negative influence on entrepreneurial intention (do Paço et al., 2013; Marques et al., 2012; Oosterbeek et al., 2010; Olomi & Sinyamule, 2010; Souitaris et al., 2007). A study by do Paco et al. (2013) compared the psychological attributes and behaviours associated with entrepreneurship as well as entrepreneurial intention among students attending a sports school in Portugal. The results report that despite their not receiving any kind of entrepreneurship education, the students at the neighbouring sports school tended to have higher entrepreneurial intention which suggests that there are other factors influencing entrepreneurial intention.
In a similar vein, Marques et al. (2012) assessed the impact of entrepreneurship education, psychological and demographic factors in prediction of entrepreneurial intention among secondary school students in Portugal and reported that entrepreneurship education does not have a significant influence on entrepreneurial intention. Elsewhere, Oosterbeek et al. (2010) analyzed the impact of entrepreneurship education program on college students’ entrepreneurship skills and motivation. The scholars (Oosterbeek et al., 2010) found that the effect of entrepreneurship education on students’ self-assessed skills was insignificant and the effect on intentions to become an entrepreneur was even negative.
Further, Olomi and Sinyamule (2009) investigated the effect of an entrepreneurship program offered in Vocational and Training Centers in Tanzania using a sample of professionals and reported that entrepreneurship education process program had no significant effect on start-up intentions. Similarly, Souitaris et al. (2007) examined the influence of entrepreneurship education on entrepreneurial attitudes and intent of university students in Germany. The study concluded that exposure to entrepreneurship education process increases some attitudes and overall intentions of students. More so, von Graevinitz et al. (2010) studied the effect of entrepreneurship education on intention of learners in Munich School of Management in Germany. The study reported mixed results. According to the findings, students’ intentions decline with education but the program had a significant positive effect on self-assessed entrepreneurial skills of the students.
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