Source: Innovations in Education and Teaching International, Vol. 51, No. 5, 459–471, 2014
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article describes an innovative teaching approach that uses a fund-raising activity as a method of acquiring social entrepreneurship (SE) skills and knowledge. This approach helps to create a more rounded interaction between students and the real social enterprise world, and thereby develop the appropriate SE skills.
The learning programme and methodology
The programme involved students working with different stakeholders in an interactive learning environment to generate real revenue for social enterprises.
Five types of stakeholders facilitated the learning process: (1) students themselves (other team members); (2) university lecturers; (3) university corporate services staff; (4) social entrepreneurs; and (5) sponsors.
Data were collected through students' reflections journals and the stakeholders’ comments on their interactions with students.
From the reflective logs, it was apparent that students had developed a variety of entrepreneurial capacities as a result of the experience of fund raising. This included an understanding of the need to set targets, knowledge of the factors likely to affect the progress of the plan and the resources available to them within a specified time frame.
This approach also made students enhance their reflective capability and the ability to evaluate their own work during each of the six stages of the revenue generation activity. Self-reflection enabled students to challenge their own ideas and hence find new ways of understanding of what would otherwise have been regarded as given.
It was evident also that the social entrepreneurs were able to actively engage with the students and the educators in order to deliver a successful programme. Their feedback revealed that they were highly satisfied with the revenue-generation activities organised by the students as they enabled them to reach a new audience.
This research project has clearly indicated that universities should consider new ways to teach social entrepreneurship using innovative learning tools, such as raising funds for social enterprises.
In this paper, the authors have argued that a learning-by-doing approach is an effective tool in the delivery of SE education. The three main areas of contribution made in this study are: (1) to provide an insight into how SE education can be delivered more effectively through the use of real world projects; (2) enhance the understanding of the nature and use of a collaborative learning approach within higher education; and (3) provide a model on which university lecturers can build to help students develop the required skills and competences of a social entrepreneur.
It is apparent from this study that students’ ability to learn from practice is not just important to the students, but also to the social entrepreneurs and the university.