As a teaching associate for the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS), Dr Steven Ford develops the design, content, and delivery methods used within the MSc Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacture Course. The MSc is one of the most popular postgraduate courses on offer in the SIPBS portfolio, which Dr Ford attributes to the entrepreneurial approach to teaching.
Discussing the benefits of utilising an entrepreneurial approach to teaching, Dr Ford suggests the need to first understand “Entrepreneurship” and notes that to him, it requires an approach that combines a conscious awareness of the market for products; the process by which the product is produced; and the starting materials. Applying this idea to Higher Education teaching, Dr Ford considers this as the employability of university graduates; the design and delivery of courses; and the background of the incoming students. Looking at entrepreneurship in teaching and education in this way has, for Dr Ford, lead to clearer learning outcomes which successfully meet the wants of the consumer (“the student”), and in turn, creates a more effective finished product (“the graduate” and the overall course).
Reflecting on this, Dr Ford highlights that Entrepreneurship is as much a behaviour as it is an approach. Whilst continuing to strive in leading students towards key “learning moments”, all whilst generating high engagement in the programme and enhancing the overall student experience, Dr Ford outlines the need for innovation and creativity and believes passionately that teaching is a community activity. It requires staff from all job levels and grades and as such, an important part of entrepreneurial teaching is trying to work with, and give recognition to the whole team involved.
We want our graduates to work effectively in multi-disciplinary and multi-skill teams: I try to model that. However, a team-based approach requires time and effort, especially where innovation is involved. It takes a long time to bring an innovative teaching idea into a deliverable student activity or educational process. Entrepreneurship is definitely a commitment to something bigger than oneself, but when it works, the benefits ripple across every aspect of the teaching and learning experience. It is worth it – I promise!
As an example of an entrepreneurial teaching approach in action, Dr Ford suggests game / play-based activities - something associated with ‘fun’. For example, card swapping games which demonstrate supply chain trading behaviours, or using project management approaches through a snakes and ladders game.
Of course, it is essential to understand that a variety of factors can affect the course of action when designing and delivering a course. However, it’s the ability to be entrepreneurial - to be agile and comfortable with change/risk - that is key to any successful course design. This way, you can use existing data and pivot the design model to any environment, and be confident in your approach moving forward.