Best practices in determining what students should learn as a result of any educational program, start with the Kirkpatrick framework which specifies three categories of student learning:
- Knowledge (the Head) – this generally consists of facts, theories, methods, tools and other information that can be readily acquired and transferred between individuals. Knowledge must in general be falsifiable through scientific methods and reasoning, as opposed to unsubstantiated claims.
- Skills or Competencies (the Hand) – these consist of abilities and proficiencies that are acquired primarily through specialized training or experience.
- Attitudes (the Heart) – these are beliefs, feeling, dispositions and values that drive a person’s behaviors. Entrepreneurial attitude research has been extensively driven from Ajzen’s (1991) Theory of Planned Behavior and are held to be antecedent to entrepreneurial action.
The vast majority of textbooks, lectures, presentations and testing methods focus on Knowledge. This may be because it is easier or more cost effective to transmit this kind of educational content and it is certainly easier to test a student’s acquisition of knowledge using standardized methods. Most traditional forms of instruction and subjects tend to rely heavily on knowledge-based education. However, the vast majority of potential employers and other stakeholders are more interested in transferrable skills and attitudes.
Skills have become so important that university program accreditation agencies such as AACSB and EQUIS focus almost exclusively on Assurances of Learning tied to skills. The importance of quantifying, measuring and continuously improving skills is clearly articulated in EQUIS Chapter 2 and in AACSB Sections 16, 18, 19 and 21. Measuring knowledge or attitudes is not even mentioned. Both standards provide solid guidance for how to assess the impact of education on these student Learning Outcomes, but are entirely silent on which specific learning outcomes a program should try to achieve. REI has thus developed a List of Entrepreneurship Knowledge, List of Entrepreneurial Competencies and List of Entrepreneurial Attitudes that you may wish to consider in your own programs and courses.
Imagine learning how to play the guitar. Certainly knowledge of music theory is important and can be learned by reading books and easily tested. However, students still need to actually pick up a guitar and practice, practice, practice to obtain the required skills and mastery. Furthermore, without passion (attitude) their playing will be robotic and boring and they will not be able to earn a living playing the guitar.