Pepin, (2012) defines enterprise education as ‘the idea of developing general skills in students that may be useful in numerous life situations for the purpose of educating more enterprising students’. Enterprise education lays the foundation for the process of students becoming entrepreneurs. However, the subject of enterprise education is vastly broad and teachers may find it difficult to effectively teach each student the skills needed to be become successful entrepreneurs. Team learning can be an invaluable approach for both teacher and student in the teaching of enterprise education.
Being well versed in both entrepreneurial skills and enterprise education plays a vital role in both the education system and the profession of teaching in Ireland. As Ireland is currently in a recession it has never been more important for students to be experienced in the field of enterprising and entrepreneurial skills. For this to happen the education must be able to offer students a wide range of opportunities to which will allow them to develop their skills.
Enterprise Education will help students to gain knowledge on these skills and to go forward and start their own business. This will not only be of benefit to them but it will be of benefit to the Irish economy and their local community. Enterprise education can also give young adults confidence in many areas of life and work throughout their lives. It is seen as education for real life (Department for Children Schools and Families 2010).
A team is any group of people who need each other to accomplish a result (Senge, 1994, pp. 354). Failures are not blamed on individuals so that they do not operate in fear of failure but see failure as a learning opportunity. Enterprise education offers students the opportunity to become ‘successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society and at work, with a clear understanding of their roles in the world’ (ES, 2005). These skills taught through enterprise education are often intertwined with the skills needed for successful team learning.
Enterprise education can instil in students the confidence and knowledge that may enable them to take control of real life situations such as completing a project or creating their own company. The Irish mini company competition is a perfect example of how enterprising education can be approached effectively, through team learning. This initiative provides students with the opportunity to set up their own student enterprises and run it exactly like a business. To take part in this opportunity teams must showcase the entrepreneurial ‘mind-set and skills to come up with original ideas in response to identified needs and shortfalls, and the ability to act on them’.
The level of cohesiveness between team members is an extremely important factor in how effective team learning can be. ‘Team learning as an instructional strategy is based on the fact that it nurtures the development of high levels of group cohesiveness which, in turn, results in a wide variety of other positive outcomes’ (Michaelsen, 2002). Team learning can sometimes end in disagreements as there can be a difference of opinions throughout the team members.
However, these disagreements can be a key opportunity for students to employ their enterprising and team learning skills to resolve the conflict. Through the use of organisational, communication and problem solving skills these disagreements can be resolved resulting in team member mutual trust and group cohesiveness which, in turn, results in a wide variety of other positive outcomes.
One benefit of approaching enterprise education through team learning is that ‘teachers are forever free from covering all the course content’. The subject of enterprise education is broad and teachers may find it difficult to effectively teach all students the skills they need to become successful entrepreneurs. However, through the use of team learning students can study the content individually and then reinforce or challenge their knowledge through communication with their team members. As a result, they are prepared to use the majority of class time working on their assignments which should be designed to enhance their ability to apply their newly found enterprising skills to real life situations.
Although it has been proven that enforcing a team learning approach to teaching enterprise education offers benefits to both teachers and their students, if teachers fail to implement correct use of team learning this approach will be ineffective and of benefit to no one. Micaelsen, (2002) believes that if teachers are to effectively teach through team based learning ‘primary learning objectives of the course will have to shift’. He states that instead of being primarily focused on familiarizing students with key concepts, the course goals will also include ensuring that students learn how to use those concepts.
For enterprise education, teachers should assure that not only are students well-versed with the concepts and theories that shape enterprise education, but also, that they are given the opportunity to put theory in practice. Teachers can effectively achieve this through team learning by setting assignments that incorporate and test the use of the enterprising skills students have learned and applying them to real life situations by carrying out ‘activities aimed at improving, developing and creating values that may be social, personal, cultural or economic’ (NUTEK, 2000, p.78).
When approaching enterprise education through team learning, teachers must realise their ‘role and function will change’. Not only does their role involve dispensing information and concepts; they will need to design and manage the overall instructional process. There will also be a change in the role and function of students when approaching enterprise education through team learning. Instead of being ‘passive recipients of information and content, students will need to be responsible for the initial acquisition of the content and for working collaboratively with other students to learn how to use the content instead of all theory a lot of practice’.
A key principle in both enterprise education and team learning is accountability. When setting up a business entrepreneurs are forced to become accountable for managing risks affecting their business. As a result of teaching enterprise education through team learning, students are forced to become accountable not only for their individual work, but for their team and they must become aware of this how work will be assessed. The teacher should design an assessment that encourages the kind of student behaviour that will promote learning in and from group interaction and from an entrepreneurial stance, extends to real situations.
Collaboration between group members is another benefit that makes team learning an effective approach to enterprise education. Collaborative learning is defined as ‘a method that implies working in a group of two or more to achieve a common goal, while respecting each individual’s contribution to the whole’ (McInnerney and Robert, 2004). The mutual respect that arises between team members from working together provides student’s with vital experience they will need when the leave school and hope to become employed.
Decision making and innovation are two other effective enterprising skills that can be practiced through the use of team learning. Having been placed in a team for part 1 of this assignment my group and I were faced with the several challenges we had to overcome in order to meet our learning objectives. The decision making was tough; however, as a result of learning about decision making techniques through enterprise education I felt prepared to express my opinion and divulge any ideas I had about completing the assessment without fear of judgement.
In conclusion, team learning can be an effective approach to enterprise education that offers many benefits to both teacher and student if correctly implemented in the classroom. Teachers must embrace the theory that their role changes from simply a dispenser of knowledge to a designer of the overall process while students should be open-minded to the idea of team learning as not only will their team work skills improve but they will be equipped with valuable experience which will allow them to stimulate the economy by setting up their own business or by becoming employed.
1. Education Scotland 2005, Accessed 24/4/15 Available: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/learningandteaching/learningacrossthecurriculum/themesacrosslearning/enterprise/about/enterprisingteaching.asp
2. Exploring Enterprise Accessed: 24/4/15 Available from http://www.studententerprise.ie/fileadmin/useful_tools/Exploring_Enterprise_Manual.pdf
3. Michaeison, L.K. (2002). Getting Started with Team-Based Learning.
4. McInnerney, J. & Robert, T. S. (2004). Collaborative or cooperative learning? In T. S. Roberts (Ed.), Online collaborative learning: Theory and practice (pp. 203-214). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.
5. Pepin, M. 2012. Enterprise education: a Deweyan perspective. Education + Training, 54(8/9), p. 801’812
6. Senge, P. 1994. The fifth discipline field book. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing
7. The Department for Children Schools and Families, 2010 A guide to Enterprise Education (Online) Accessed 25/4/15