The main purpose of the article is to outline a theoretical platform for a design-based approach to entrepreneurship education grounded in the ideas of the Russian psychologist and linguist Lev S. Vygotsky by reconceptualising the development of entrepreneurial expertise as artefact-mediated activity. This model is elaborated into some core pedagogical principles and contrasted with other approaches to entrepreneurial education. It also describes the piloting of this design perspective in a Master of Science programme in entrepreneurship. Students working as interns in high-tech start-up companies reflected on their practice and learned to learn using a number of artefacts as “scaffolds”.
The empirical base of this article is an instrumental case study of the pilot programme where the material is subject to documentary and narrative analysis. The master’s theses of the students participating in the new start-up programme were compared with those of students in the regular programme using thematic analysis.
The authors call for a more systematic examination of the model derived from Vygotsky in the field of entrepreneurship education. The exploratory study indicates that the emphasis on artefact-mediated action may strengthen systematic self-reflection and learning to learn among Master’s students in practice-based programmes. However, Vygotsky’s focus on “distributed agency” should be complemented by a more personalized mentoring scheme.
This is a pioneering study examining the pedagogy of artefact mediation in entrepreneurship education.
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