Sarah Preedy



Extracurricular enterprise activities have steadily increased over the past decade within universities (Rae et al., 2012), as has the domain of entrepreneurial learning research (Wang and Chugh, 2014) yet limited empirical research examines links between the two phenomena. This thesis connects educational theory, entrepreneurial learning theory and entrepreneurial education research to examine the role that extracurricular enterprise activities may have within the entrepreneurial learning processes of students at United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions. Utilising a social constructionist paradigm of enquiry this thesis critically examines perceptions of the value of extracurricular enterprise activities from an educator and student perspective. A semi-structured survey (n=55) and in depth interviews with students (n=23) and enterprise educators (n=3) across 24 UK universities explored what extracurricular enterprise activities students engaged in, their motivations for engagement and the perceived value of extracurricular enterprise activities in relation to entrepreneurial learning processes. Findings suggest that extracurricular enterprise activities not only provide value in the experiential and social learning opportunities afforded for participants, but the positioning of these activities outside of the main curriculum enables students to develop their autonomous learning capabilities. The results contribute to an emerging body of literature examining self-directed learning activities and entrepreneurial learning (Van Gelderen, 2010; Tseng, 2013). The thesis concludes that while experiential and social learning opportunities occupy a central role within entrepreneurial learning processes of university students, self-directed learning activities are increasingly important, and emphasis should be placed upon enabling students to self-direct their entrepreneurial learning processes. For policy and practice, this research provides additional scrutiny of the proposition that extracurricular enterprise activities positively enhance learning through examining what extracurricular enterprise activities students choose to engage in and the benefits they perceive they attained. This research also provides an enhanced understanding of how students interpret and apply the theoretical concept of entrepreneurial learning. Research examining entrepreneurial learning is important in enabling a more effective understanding of the entrepreneurial process yet studies examining student perceptions of entrepreneurial learning remain limited (Mueller and Anderson, 2014; Wang and Chugh, 2014). Finally, this thesis presents the central role of self-directed learning activities to students’ entrepreneurial learning processes and provides recommendations for enhancing entrepreneurial education.

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