University of the West of Scotland


DERSERVE - Developing Entrepreneurial Spirit through Experience and Reflection in Vocational Education

Principal investigators : Professor Thomas M Connolly and Idong Usoro

Funding Body : EU LLP, Leonardo Da Vinci

Value : €109,500

Project Partners :

By embracing the Innovation Union as flagship initiative for Europe 2020 the EU has recognized the great relevance of entrepreneurship education. The main activities for promoting entrepreneurship have always been focused on supporting those in the process of starting a business. Only in recent years isolated activities have started to encourage the development of an entrepreneurial mind at an early age. However, so far the different approaches are all limited to their national context. The partners of the project are all involved in entrepreneurship education in a vocational context in their respective country. While their initiatives have seen various degrees of success they all believe that more efforts need to be made to strengthen entrepreneurial thinking in Europe. The idea to tackle this challenge together has led to the idea of the partnership project DESERVE.

The project aims at improving vocational entrepreneurship education in four ways:

  • sharing the experience of its partners teaching entrepreneurship in different vocational education systems;
  • focusing on experiential approaches to entrepreneurship education as instruments to foster entrepreneurial mindsets;
  • experiencing a practical implementation of educating entrepreneurs following action-based principles in a setting representing European diversity;
  • eveloping a shared understanding of a European approach to entrepreneurship education.

As a result of this project the partners will have:

  • learned best practices from each other;
  • made a practical experience of action-based entrepreneurship education with a European dimension;
  • created and disseminated a handbook on implementing a European design and game based approach;
  • used the experience to improved their own approaches.

The general objective is to demonstrate the benefit of European collaboration on entrepreneurship education through bringing together practitioners from diverse European vocational backgrounds and engage in reflective practice on training an entrepreneurial mind set. This reflection shall be based on developing and conducting an educational setting for training an Entrepreneurial mind set together in a multicultural setting. This setting will incorporate a design and game based approach to entrepreneurship education in an authentic scenario. It will be evaluated how teachers and learners deal with this approach to Entrepreneurship Education especially in a multicultural setting.

The specific objectives are:

  • sharing the experiences of the partners teaching entrepreneurship in the different vocational education systems;
  • discussing principles of a experiential approach to entrepreneurship education in general and regarding the partners' contexts;
  • developing an educational setting for learners from all partner institutions following the basic principles of game and design based entrepreneurship education;
  • reflecting on the experiences of teachers and learners in the educational setting
  • developing an understanding of a European approach to entrepreneurship education based on the experience and reflection of the educational setting.

The development process for the educational setting is based on the principles of Design Thinking (Stanford 2011). Through engaging in this common practice of designing an educational setting an experiential (Kolb 1984) and reflective practice (Agyris & Schön 1978) approach is implemented. The overall process will be evaluated in a responsive way, meaning that evaluation not only gathers and analyzes project data, but also supports decisions by adapting scientific concepts for the project.

Within the project we use the synergy and diversity of a European context lying in the differences and similarities of the project partners. Synergies are created by discussing and reflecting on the development of an entrepreneurial mind set with a focus on best practices and lessons learned from the partners. The diversity of national contexts enables the project to explore possibilities for adapting the approach to different contexts. Like this a common core of understanding European Entrepreneurial Education with contextual variations will be developed.

Project Website: