Human Resource Development Paper

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Undertaking HRD research in higher education
A longitudinal approach to evaluating undergraduate “enterprise education” modules Victoria Harte and Jim Stewart
Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK
Abstract
Purpose – Educational programmes that are concerned with the learning and teaching of enterprise education, such as enterprise focused degrees and/or modules, could be argued to be of particular interest to human resource development (HRD) research since they commonly have an overt focus on influencing and shaping the career choices of students. Furthermore, the perceptions of students about their own career choices are also of immense value, especially in a period of economic downturn and financial uncertainty. The main aim of this paper is to report problems encountered by the authors when attempting to evaluate the impact of enterprise modules in higher education, in the context of HRD research. The paper also aims to discuss the evaluation of learning by students studying enterprise modules. Design/methodology/approach – The research strategy for this project consisted of a longitudinal approach, initially over the course of three years using a pre-designed research instrument (known as the EHGI questionnaire) to evaluate the impact of enterprise modules on students’ self-efficacy adopting a pre- and post-test application. A series of qualitative interviews were also planned to gain further depth to the students’ learning. However, the paper reports on the struggles and problems of using such an instrument and not on the actual results from the students. Findings – Following the planned use of this pre-designed instrument the authors encountered many problems with student take-up, participation and follow-up. This posed many problems to the project, which were detrimental to the research findings, potentially because of the pre- and post-test applications. In the exploration to understand the detriments to this research, the findings illustrate that there are contrasts with current literature in the components that make survey research successful and that attrition is a common problem in research conducted in higher education. Research limitations/implications – The paper proposes that the instrument is not suitable for use in traditional semesters in higher education. The instrument had been successfully applied in controlled group settings. However, there were a number of other potential factors that contributed to the detriments of the research. Practical implications – Individuals should consider the use of this instrument in traditional higher education settings where controlled group settings cannot be guaranteed. Successful survey research in higher education settings requiring the participation of students requires structured planning and will only yield results following the full consideration of applicability of the EHGI questionnaire. Originality/value – Individuals interested in evaluating enterprise education modules using the EHGI questionnaire will find value in this paper in relation to obstacles and problems that need to be considered and avoided before employing this instrument. Keywords Human resource management research, Higher education, Careers, Students, Business enterprise, United Kingdom Paper type Research paper

Undertaking HRD research in higher education 679

Education þ Training Vol. 52 No. 8/9, 2010 pp. 679-693 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0040-0912 DOI 10.1108/00400911011088980

ET 52,8/9

680

1. Introduction This paper describes an intended three year study utilising a longitudinal design (namely the “project”) of the impact of enterprise focused modules on higher education students, accessible to numerous subject disciplines, and the problems, pitfalls and struggles that the authors encountered within the first two years of using such a design. The project...
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