Developing Entrepreneurship Skills in a Secondary Science Classroom

Entrepreneurship Skills By: Miranda Yeoh

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Authored by: Miranda Yeoh

Affiliation: SEAMEO RECSAM

Contact info: miranda@recsam.edu.my; mirandayeoh23@gmail.com

 

Introduction

“To succeed today, being an entrepreneur is a requirement, regardless of your employment situation. The workforce has changed and it is time to evolve with it” (Broder, 2014). Even science teachers in various countries do not always have the luxury to relax and expect to be promoted based on seniority. Without having a business, each of us is considered as an entrepreneur (Broder, 2014). Hence, each of us is an entrepreneur even if we do not as yet own a business, because we are working for ourselves to meet own satisfaction. As science teachers (and entrepreneurs), our product is knowledgeable students thinking and working effectively who are intrinsically motivated to pursue lifelong learning (Yeoh & Ierardi, 2015), while they function as responsible scientifically literate citizens who think creatively and critically to solve problems in their daily lives.

Entrepreneurship together with creativity, resourcefulness, reflective thinking, and reasoned decision-making are taken into account as traits associated with critical and innovative thinking. Beside other transversal competencies that learners require to become capable of adapting to change in the 21st century, these are 21st century skills that our students need to arm themselves with (Care & Luo, 2016). Entrepreneurship has expanded over the last three decades as probably the greatest economic impact; accordingly, entrepreneurship education has emerged as what is needed to prepare the future workforce to develop the entrepreneurship mind-set that is characterised by an attraction towards opportunities as well as innovation and value creation (De Hoyos-Ruperto, Pomales-Garcia, Padovani, & Suarez, 2017).

The entrepreneurial mind-set has the capacity to apply reflective thinking and reasoned decision-making to solve problems with creativity and resourcefulness even in an environment of risk and ambiguity (Care & Luo, 2016; De Hoyes-Ruperto et al., 2017). Entrepreneurship education provides formal learning, competitions, and activities/ interventions to develop the mind-set of an entrepreneur. The idea that entrepreneurship is a skill that can be learned has also lead universities to offering entrepreneurship education in the hope of producing graduate entrepreneurs (Mohd Nor Hakimin, Fakhrul Anwar, & Mohd Dahlan, 2015).

However, decision and confidence to become an entrepreneur are similarly dependent on other factors. Family background, personal experiences, and external environment have been identified as very important factors that affect choices to become an entrepreneur. In this regard, a family background in business is positively correlated with entrepreneurship similar to early and continued exposure to entrepreneurship activities (Mohd Nor Hakimin et al., 2015). Thus, it is argued that pupils who do not have a family background where they work on a business and partake of its success can also learn the discipline of entrepreneurship, and it is believed that entrepreneurship education embedded in secondary science education can provide early and continued exposure to entrepreneurship activities which was in line with the results in Mohd Nor Hakimin et al. (2015).

Skills of an Entrepreneur

The hard skills of entrepreneurship including business, law, accounting, or marketing can be learned in school, at university, or at work, but the soft ones are more difficult to acquire. These soft skills include good communication, harnessing personal drive and perseverance, good planning, self-reflection, people skills, inculcating temperament to manage adversity, and developing personal capacity to embrace change (Broder, 2015). In this regard, it is believed that secondary school age is a good time to learn these soft skills.

While certain people continue to debate whether entrepreneurs are born or learned as a discipline (Drucker, 1994), there is a list of skill areas that can be all polished to get better: communication, branding, sales, strategy, and finance. So, there is a need to establish and maintain clear communication with manufacturers and customers by email and phone (Demers, 2014) and social media (Patel, 2015). Besides, we have to communicate clearly on social media. Next, branding is the skill in need of polish. Therefore, an effective branding will inform customers of what service or quality of product they may expect, and what sets the product apart from competitors. Moreover, the desires of customers have to be considered to ensure that the product is marketable and the business is likely to succeed. The third skill is the ability to sell which is often expressed without being aware of it. Each time someone is persuaded to do a certain task or to take on a certain responsibility that was not originally on their plate refers to the use of sales skill. It is also clear that if we focus on helping others with our products, we are more likely to make a sale. The fourth skill is strategy, and it is imperative to watch it in order to stay relevant to customers in the midst of competitions in the market, especially when the business will continue to stay relevant in the future. The fifth skill is finance; thus, an entrepreneur needs sufficient understanding of finances, cash flow, profit margin, as well as funding. This understanding will allow an entrepreneur to control costs, optimize efficiency, and have capacity to increase revenue (Demers, 2014).

Table 1: Entrepreneurship skills and suggestions on how to acquire or develop the skills
Soft skills (Broder, 2015)
Author’s suggestions on how to develop the skill 
1
Harness drive, ambition , stamina
Self-reflection and determination, staying as healthy as possible, healthy diet and exercise, yoga, etc.
2
Temperament to manage adversity
Self-reflection and knowledge that adversity does not last forever, and it is our reaction that is of importance
3
Capacity to embrace change
Be willing and open to change. Adjusting to change seems to be a waste of resources and time, but life is a series of changes whether or not we are in business
4
Ability to relieve our own stress (Patel, 2015)
Exercise, yoga, meditation, and prayer

Broder (2015) stated that hard skills like finance and accounting may be learned in the classroom. However Broder (2015) emphasized that the given soft skills are difficult to master. These skills include harnessing drive, ambition and stamina, temperament to manage adversity and capacity to embrace change; while Patel (2015) highlighted ability to manage stress as an essential skill in entrepreneurs.  Table 1 illustrated a list of entrepreneurship skills and the present author’s suggestions on how to develop these skills. It may be observed that entrepreneurship skills including good observation, good planning, research-mindedness, and self-reflection are the same skills that are required by science students. While there are knowledge and skills that secondary students do not possess including business, law, accounting, or marketing; exposure to entrepreneurship in secondary school may facilitate their development of soft skills, learning to take risks and tolerate ambiguity, and acquisition of an entrepreneur’s mind-set (De Hoyes-Ruperto et al., 2017; Mohd Nor Hakimin et al, 2015).

Entrepreneurship Education in Malaysia

In ASEAN countries including Malaysia, schools allow students to develop entrepreneurship. Thus, students need to develop collaborative skills, ICT skills, and entrepreneurship ones including capacity to start a business venture and ability to think out of the box. The rewards of entrepreneurship education are creating income opportunity while ensuring social justice for minority groups (including women and immigrants), enhancing confidence, and stimulating national economy (Rodov & Truong, 2015). Although entrepreneurship is already taught in Malaysian public universities, entrepreneurship education is not yet carried out in secondary schools (Badariah, Abdul Rahim & Mariana, 2016).

The Malaysian government aspires to produce graduates who are ‘job creators’, rather than conventional job seekers; thus, public universities or institutes of higher learning (IHLs) provide entrepreneurship education (Mohd Nor Hakimin, Fakhrul, & Mohd Dahlan, 2014). Despite supports offered in these IHLs in terms of management, infrastructure, promotion, funding, and advisory assistance, we do not always produce graduates who are willing to be entrepreneurs and able to create jobs for others. Accordingly, Mohd Nor Hakimin et al. (2015) discussed the practical issues and challenges faced by these IHLs in conducting entrepreneurship education to fulfil the needs of the country. However, most of the time, entrepreneurship education in public IHLs focuses on theoretical knowledge, rather than skill development and on-the-job experiences; and hence it has not been sufficient to develop desire and confidence in graduates to become entrepreneurs. In this respect, Malaysian polytechnics that incorporate industrial training within their curriculum content have been more successful than universities in building up entrepreneurs in line with Mohd Nor Hakimin et al. (2015) because on-the-job training provides more than theoretical entrepreneurship knowledge.

This paper aims to discuss how teenagers in secondary schools may acquire entrepreneurial skills, and how entrepreneurship may be embedded within science education, so that science students may nurture a mind-set allowing them to be willing to take on a business risk. A reason why science education should lend itself to entrepreneurship development is that a majority of Malaysian secondary students should be science students based on the 60%:40% STEM to non-STEM students policy that has been decided by the education ministry of Malaysia (Yeoh & Ierardi, 2015).

A secondary science sub-topic that may lend itself to developing entrepreneurship skills is “The roles of useful microorganisms in our ecosystem”, a Year 10 (Form 4) sub-topic. When students have to carry out an entrepreneurship venture on top of their various academic duties and sports commitments, they will have to plan and prioritise the tasks. The learner will gain entrepreneurship skills through a small entrepreneurial activity of selling tempeh, and a social entrepreneurship step of distributing free tempeh to cleaners, and some persons who would appreciate them. The process of looking for a reasonable price and a reasonable quality of soya beans and the starter culture will also enhance the observation and discovery skills of the learner. Thus, getting involved in the buying process of raw ingredients from the market and online and selling the finished product in schoolwill inculcate resourcefulness in him to be successful in the venture.

Through the process of distributing free tempeh to those who have been identified, students will have to approach such people including sweepers, gardeners, street vendors etc., and convince them to try their product. This activity will enhance their interpersonal skills. The process of generating funds through purchase of raw ingredients, packing materials, as well as sales and distribution of tempeh will generate a self-drive in learners to be a responsible person in society. The process of doing the accounts will also require transparency and it can consequently foster this entrepreneurship trait. The project requires collaborative group work within this project and other entrepreneurship ones (Yeoh, 2017) will teach the given students the importance of being a team-player (The lesson plan will be tested in schools as permission was already granted by the Ministry of Education in Malaysia.)

Conclusion

It was suggested that entrepreneurship business/sales and soft skills can be developed in science classes by teachers who extend a part of their class for an entrepreneurship project that may include an interview survey of students’ habits or preferences; or a project that allows students to sell certain items like face masks during a spell of haze, or sell food-stuff like tempeh.

The entrepreneurship skills (including the four soft skills in Table 1 beside good planning, people skills, resourcefulness, and transparency) can be gradually developed in a secondary school science class. Moreover, teachers need to be aware of this and extend the learning of students to inculcate entrepreneurship skills and traits. Through practice, students will learn to take calculated risks. With the skills and the confident and independent mind-sets that have been developed from secondary school, students will be able to venture into their own entrepreneurship start-ups, work hard to avoid a decline and thrive in their business ventures, and consequently create jobs for others. Furthermore, they will be able to improve national economy while maintaining a concern for people and the Planet. It is concluded that social entrepreneurs are the need of our world today.

References
Badariah, H. D., Abdul Rahim, A., & Mariana, U. (2016).  The entrepreneurship education program in Malaysian public university. The European Proceedings of Social & Behavioural Sciences, eISSN: 2357-1330, 443-449.
Broder, L. (2015, Feb 20). How to Develop the Soft Skills of the Successful Entrepreneur.
Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/243059
Broder, L. (2014, December 08). Why You Don’t Have to Be an Owner to Be an Entrepreneur.
Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/240499
Care, E. & Luo, R. (2016). Assessment of transversal competencies: Policy and practice in the Asia-Pacific Region. UNESCO: Paris and Bangkok office. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002465/246590E.pdf
De Hoyos-Ruperto, M., Pomales-Garcia, C., Padovani, A., & Suarez, O. (2017). An Entrepreneurship education co-curricular program to stimulate entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students. MRS Advances, 1-7. DOI: 10.1557/adv.2017.109
Demers, J. (2014, August 11). Five skills every successful entrepreneur must have.
Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236128
Drucker, F. P. (1994). Innovation and entrepreneurship. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Mohd Nor Hakimin bin Yusoff, Fakhrul Anwar Zainol, & Mohd Dahlan bin Ibrahim (2015). Entrepreneurship Education in Malaysia’s Public Institutions of Higher Learning – A Review of the Current Practices. International Education Studies, 8 (1), 17-28.
Patel, N. (2015, October 26). Seven basic skills all entrepreneurs should master. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2015/10/26/7-of-the-easiest-skills-that-entrepreneurs-should-acquire-2/#3c9ac7f0768f
Rodov, F. & Truong, S. (2015, April 14). Why schools should teach entrepreneurship. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/245038
Yeoh, P. M. & Ierardi, E. (2015). Motivation and achievement of Malaysian students in studying Matriculation biology. International Journal of Advanced Research, 3 (11), 966-978.
Yeoh, P. M. (2017). Healthy eating habits (Lesson plan of a science lesson with integrated entrepreneurship elements). Paper presented at the seminar “Building the spirit of entrepreneurship through science education”, SEAMEO RECSAM, Penang. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28193.81761

3 COMMENTS

  1. “Each of us is an entrepreneur”. I agree with the person I quoted.

    And from Neville Emslie on Research Gate…”Combining STEM with Entrepreneurship is vital for any country to develop its future economy and future business leaders. A great idea that should be shared world-wide.”

    https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Miranda_Yeoh
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321237613_Developing_entrepreneurship_skills_in_the_secondary_science_classroom

  2. Thanks for uploading the whole work/text. Important and great idea to address the matter of acquirement of skills in early education /secondary school. Is there a possibility to get a pdf of this text? Or have I overlooked the link to a pdf-version?

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