Doctoral Research Ideas

How might we develop tools and methods to intergate entrepreneurship and innovation into higher education curriculum?


I originally wanted to pursue a doctoral degree in the educational technology field because I had a passion for design-based learning and its inclusion into K-12 curriculum. I wanted to investigate methods and activities for implementing design-based learning into the classroom specifically at the middle and high school level. After having the opportunity to work with kids for my master’s research I felt that school-level children were the demographic I wanted to continue to target for my research. When I started the program last semester I began to contact schools in the local area to arrange possible collaborations where I could conduct an after school program based on engaging students in design-based research activities. After not getting a great response from my possible connections I began to question whether school-level students were the best group to target for graduate research.

Development of research interest

Around the same time, I began to develop a greater interest for entrepreneurship and how other universities were beginning to teach non-business students entrepreneurship concepts. I also began to reflect on my interest in interdisciplinary collaboration. During my time at Virginia Tech I was a part of a team interdisciplinary team of programmers, designers, and educator where the goal was to create an educational game. There were many issues that surfaced during the collaboration including communication issues, and power struggles. I also read different papers on the difficulties of collaborating on projects and how former students have discussed how they weren’t taught collaboration skills in school. I began to become more interested in how entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary collaboration can be taught in higher education successfully. 

Initial Study

Once I became aware of the “Million Dollar Class” (an interdisciplinary design and entrepreneurship course) , I knew I could do some significant research in this area. I conducted a study using this class to answer the following preliminary research questions:

·      How can an open-ended design based interdisciplinary course facilitate innovation self-efficacy?

·      How can a design team consisting of members from multiple disciplines achieve group cohesion while creating an innovative solution?

·      What can students learn from taking on a seemingly impossible goal?

The research methods in this study involved interviews, surveys, and observations. I am hoping that the results of this study can be used to guide my research direction. I envision using this course to conduct design-based research studies. Each semester, we can make modifications to the course and test the effect.

Development of learning model

Through this study and others I want to begin to build the Startup Innovation! learning method that I discussed in my Conceptual Framework (also found in the Samples of Work section).

Tool Development

To increase group cohesion and the generation of innovative ideas in interdisciplinary teams, I would like to develop multi-touch tabletop card game promote team building and the development and sharing of innovative ideas. A multi-touch table can be an essential tool for collaboration because it combines the affordances of a computer and a table. I would like to investigate more how activities on a multi-touch tabletop contribute to team building.

Relevant courses

Taking the Million Dollar Course and the Innovation Management as electives helps me gain experience in interdisciplinary collaboration and developing innovative ideas into businesses. These concepts are essential in developing my model. Taking Dr. Rieber’s EDIT9990 course as an elective gives me experience with developing a course and learning how to use technology when conducting research.  

Taking “Divergent and Creative Thinking”,  “Creativity Theories”, and "Creativity: Instructional Procedures and Problem-Solving Process" as my cognate courses will assist me in learning how creative and innovative minds work and how the processes used can be taught in my model. 

© Gregory Wilson 2012