Evidence that the Entrepreneurial Mindset Works

Engineering students benefited in many ways from the entrepreneurial mindset project with no drop in technical skills achievement.
- Patrick Herak, Ohio State University


OSU students

Evidence that the Entrepreneurial Mindset Works
by Patrick Herak, September 1, 2019

The Ohio State University’s (OSU) goal is to embed entrepreneurial mindset (EM) at scale, starting with first year engineering students. The curriculum and instructor training for the first year program is overseen by OSU’s Department of Engineering Education (EED). EED promotes evidence-based instruction, so the first step in advancing EM at scale was an 18-month research project to explore an EM intervention and its impact.

This article originally appeared in the KEEN 2019 Annual Report. Reprinted with permission.

Evidence that the Entrepreneurial Mindset Works

The effort began with research across KEEN and then a faculty workshop that identified EM-related course objectives. Following that, curriculum was revised and an assessment structure created to evaluate students’ demonstration of the 3C’s. 

OSU students

Then, among OSU’s 2,300 first-year engineering students, three sections totaling 210 students participated in the EM intervention.

In this pilot, students were required to complete an open-ended Integrated Transportation System (ITS) design project.

The remaining sections continued with curriculum that included a standardized kit containing components to complete a design-build-test protocol without any customer discovery, open-ended ideation or entrepreneurial engineering discussion.

Preliminary findings confirm that engineering students benefited in many ways from the EM project with no drop (and in some cases improvements) in technical skills achievement. Specifically, we found that although students initially demonstrated a performance mentality (e.g., finding the “right” answer), the EM intervention groups were more adept at connecting their classroom work to real world contexts. 

In addition, the EM intervention groups could apply the problem definition process more effectively.

Continuing EM Implementation

OSU’s first year program covers many important engineering concepts, including technical communications, professional skills and problem-solving approaches. Embedding EM has proven valuable as well, and we expanded the pilot to 800 more students in the following semester. We will continue improving on our initial implementation, scaling it to all first year students, and advancing EM into senior capstone design as we engage more OSU faculty. In the meantime, we will continue to measure impact and share what we learn with the Network.

Associated Content

First Year Curiosity

Impact of EML in a Large First-Year Engineering Course

In an eighteen-month pilot project, first-year engineering curriculum was revised and an assessment structure was created to evaluate students’ demonstration of the 3Cs. EML infusion allowed students to complete an open-ended Integrated Transportation System (ITS) project that provided students in large classes opportunities to engage in customer discovery, open-ended ideation, and entrepreneurial engineering discussions.
OSU Einstein

Curiosity Improves in First Year EML-Infused Course

When helping students progress in entrepreneurially minded learning (EML), how do we decide what to measure, what tools are available, and how do we go about using various tools to generate meaningful assessment results? This card shares the assessment of curiosity using the 5-Dimensional Curiosity Scale and practical lessons learned as part of a larger study of EML integrated curriculum.
OSU EM Comparison

Comparing EM Course Learning Objectives

Are you looking to establish a common set of EM learning objectives that can be used to measure the EM content of your courses? A clear and measurable set of objectives can make the process of integrating entrepreneurship into engineering courses more accessible and consistent for a broad audience of engineering students.


Meet the Author

Patrick Herak

Patrick Herak, Senior Lecturer, The Ohio State University

Patrick teaches the Fundamentals of Engineering sequence, develops curriculum, and supervises lab training.

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