Promoting entrepreneurship in a tribal context: evaluation of the First Innovations course sequence

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In the First Innovations Initiative at Arizona State University students are exposed to the culture of innovation and the entrepreneurial process through two courses situated intentionally within an American Indian

In the First Innovations Initiative at Arizona State University students are exposed to the culture of innovation and the entrepreneurial process through two courses situated intentionally within an American Indian sustainability context. In this action research dissertation, a summer field practicum was designed and implemented to complement the two in-classroom course offerings. The first implementation of the new summer field practicum was documented for the two participating students. A survey and focus group were conducted to evaluate the spring 2011 classroom course and, separately, to evaluate the summer field practicum. Students in the spring 2011 course and summer field practicum reported that they were stimulated to think more innovatively, gained interest in the subject area and entrepreneurial/innovation processes, and improved their skills related to public speaking, networking, problem solving and research. The summer practicum participants reported larger increases in confidence in creating, planning and implementing a sustainable entrepreneurship venture, compared with the reports of the spring in-classroom participants. Additionally, differences favoring the summer practicum students were found in reported sense of community and individualism in support of entrepreneurship and innovation. The study results are being used to revamp both the in-classroom and field practicum experience for the benefit of future participants. Specifically, the American Indian perspective will be more fully embedded in each class session, contemporary timely articles and issues will be sought out and discussed in class, and the practicum experience will be further developed with additional student participants and site organizations sought. Additionally, the trans-disciplinary team approach will continue, with additional professional development opportunities provided for current team members and the addition of new instructional team members.