Attitudes and intentions towards entrepreneurship can be influenced through a highly scalable asynchronous online programme based on role models. However, while it generates ambition and awareness, this approach alone hasn’t been proven to build actual enterprise skills and business knowledge.
A voluntary online out-of-school programme that presents personal stories of relatable role models to secondary education students and invites them to reflect on their ability to become entrepreneurs.
- To improve attitudes towards and increase perceived knowledge about entrepreneurship
- To strengthen students’ confidence in enterprise and entrepreneurial skills
- To boost intentions to pursue a career in self-employment
The Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship
This intervention was tested in one of the top-performing countries in entrepreneurship worldwide. The programme was independent of the students’ school curriculum.
Lower secondary school students aged 14–15 who volunteered to participate in the study. Of the participants, 6 out of 10 are girls and 3 out of 10 have previously participated in activities focusing on entrepreneurship.
- Asynchronous sessions: Four one-hour online sessions, which start with a short video introducing the module theme (dreams, networks, passion or goals). Real-world entrepreneurs then relay a personal story in an interview format to demystify entrepreneurship and present it in an accessible manner.
- Role models: To make the role models relatable, they’re predominantly young entrepreneurs in their early twenties, although a more experienced entrepreneur in his forties is also included. There are three men and three women entrepreneurs.
- Reflective and introspective assignments: Participants are asked to reflect on their interests, ambitions, competences and network, and then relate them to the role models’ presentations. They’re asked to pay special attention to where their competences and interests overlap and to identify contacts in their network that could help them to reach the goals they set for themselves.
- Participants had more positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship and a higher perceived knowledge about the topic, both immediately after the end of the course and one year later.
- Immediately after the course, participants weren’t more confident about their enterprise skills like planning, creativity, resource marshalling and ambiguity management.
- Right after the course, participants felt more confident in their ability to establish a business and demonstrated higher intentions to pursue a career in self-employment, but these effects weren’t detectable a year later.
- Asynchronous online education programmes with a focus on entrepreneurial role models can influence self-employment attitudes and intentions among young students.
- This approach isn’t useful for building enterprise competences, for which synchronic, action-oriented and teacher-led approaches might be more suitable.
- Testimonial videos of real-world entrepreneurs might be an interesting complement to teacher-led entrepreneurship education courses, especially in contexts where secondary level teachers might not have easy access to relatable and suitable entrepreneurial role models.