University teachers and entrepreneurial thinking

Minna Tunkkari-Eskelinen
JAMK University of Applied Science


Abstract
Finnish economy has emphasized the key role of promoting entrepreneurship at various levels of education from international, national and regional development perspective. Supporting entrepreneurial thinking and activity is considered important in educational institutions, both as a part of competence and as a method of teaching or as pedagogical challenges. Entrepreneurial vision and strategy are key goals at Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences (JAMK). The aim is to be the most entrepreneurship-oriented University in Finland. The Myths of Entrepreneurship -project was based on workshop documentation, and consisted of four different workshop events attended by totally 130 staff members (out of 700). As a pedagogical experiment, the workshop documentation became a small part of JAMK's efforts to promote entrepreneurship.
Teachers in JAMK were asked three key questions in their work: What do you consider as obstacles in your daily work trying to improve the vision of JAMK being the most entrepreneursip oriented university in Finland?
How would you overcome the obstacles that came up in your workshop? What is your own service promise: What do I promise to do from now on in order to make JAMK’s vision come true?
The data revealed the five following categories: vision and goal of JAMK University of Applied Science, knowledge gap in competences, attitudes of the teachers and management, organizational structures and resources, and the culture of activating. Differences between departments were found, especially in the understanding of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship was a rather significant part of the teachers’ work, and it revealed strong industry-orientation in classroom teaching. According to the findings, there is a lack of common understanding. The question was arisen, whether all teachers should understand entrepreneurship in the same way. In addition, each teacher has built a kind of promise of his/her own entrepreneurial task for the future.
The data, both solutions and promises brought up lots of issues, on which it is possible to build common understanding, ways of working and overcoming skills shortages, and creating an entrepreneurial culture of action.
Based on these research results, it seems, that teachers’ understanding of the vision and goals at JAMK University needs re-processing. The strategy needs to be clarified more detailed in each department. Sharing the best practices related to entrepreneurial pedagogy is part of this operational work. Teachers’ face the need of preparing the students for future working life by requiring an entrepreneurial grip. For students, entrepreneurship is not necessarily a pipeline, which is created through a career, but can be a certain stage in the life span. University students are well aware of their possibilities. The teachers should pay attention to implementing their entrepreneurial mindset.