What is it about?

This paper explores the challenges that Chinese students face when undertaking a constructivist experience-based entrepreneurship course focused on process rather than content. In groups students were tasked with developing projects which would add value to the university’s international community. The project brief was left open to encourage the students to engage in opportunity recognition, and to allow the student groups to construct their own projects based on their skills and interests, in line with constructivist learning principles. Teaching sessions imparted knowledge relating to concepts which underpinned the steps the groups needed to take in the value creation process. Data was collected from students’ reflections and student interviews.

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Why is it important?

The research identified four key themes where students had challenges in the constructivist learning process. These were a lack of familiarity with the constructivist learning process; group work and group dynamics; the linkage of taught content to practical activities; and the reflective process of learning in constructivist education. The paper puts forward suggested remedies as to how these challenges can be minimized in the context researched, in order to support effective learning. These include explanation and reinforcement of the process and the benefits, more guidance (scaffolding) and greater structure in the learning process. The application of smaller group sizes could encourage participation, more accountability and a fairer division of labour. With effective scaffolding and the development and embedding of new rituals, students can become more comfortable with the process enabling them to participate and contribute more freely, which will maximise the learning benefits.


Encouragement to move from an overemphasis on passive learning, rote memorisation and mechanical training towards the development and delivery of education using active, student-centred education approaches has resulted in tensions and challenges, one of which is the reaction of students previously used to traditional passive transmission learning. Effective entrepreneurship education requires a move away from only teaching knowledge, to also teaching practical skills and abilities, which could present student challenges when trying to implement different teaching approaches. Where existing classroom cultures and traditions are focused on the didactive transmission of knowledge, adjustments to embed new teaching practices and rituals will need to be embedded to support students in learning through different educational approaches, which emphasise practical and critical skill development.

Professor Robin Bell
University of Worcester

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Adapting to constructivist approaches to entrepreneurship education in the Chinese classroom, Studies in Higher Education, August 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2019.1655724.
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