This study explores how first-year engineering students interpret Curiosity, one of the 3Cs of an Entrepreneurial Mindset, when they write about themselves as learners. In 2005, the Kern family established the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN), a network of 45 schools dedicated to instituting an entrepreneurial mindset (EM) in undergraduate engineering students. From this EM, three main concepts were developed for success: Curiosity, Connections, and Creating Value, otherwise known as the 3Cs. Previous research regarding EM and reflective practices in an undergraduate engineering curriculum has been performed, but rarely have researchers considered both simultaneously. Also, many studies have yet to research how students interpret an EM. This paper focuses on students’ writings about Curiosity, as it was chosen most often by students as the C that related to their reflections on themselves as learners.
During the fall semester at a mid-size, suburban, public university, undergraduate engineering students were prompted on a biweekly basis to reflect on their college experiences and to choose one of the 3Cs to accompany their reflection. The first prompt of the semester asked students to reflect on their previous experiences with school and themselves as learners, and then select one of the 3Cs of an EM and write about why they chose that C. The responses to the secondary question about the 3Cs were anonymized and then grouped by the C that students chose (e.g., all of the reflections for which the student chose Curiosity were analyzed together). Of the 3Cs, students most often associated their reflections with Curiosity (58%), but Connections and Creating Value were also present (25% and 17%, respectively). Once separated, the responses related to Curiosity were analyzed using in vivo, deductive coding by a team of researchers in order to determine how students conceptualize Curiosity in relation to a reflection about themselves as learners. Nine themes were identified and applied, with Motivation, Type of Learner, and Interest being the most frequently applied codes. A Cohen’s kappa of 0.627 indicates a moderate level of agreement between the researchers. The results from this paper provide insight into how students interpret Curiosity and can be used to develop materials about EM that might better resonate with first-year students. Future work will explore the remaining two “Cs”: Connections and Creating Value.
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