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EQ-Thinking Model – Giving Curricula an Innovative Touch

The Centre for Enterprise Practice (CEP) as a public institution was established in 2014 by Vytautas Magnus University. The centre is considered to be one of the leading organisations in Lithuania that fosters entrepreneurial mindset and implementing creative and experience-based methods into the curriculum as well as creating innovative academia – business – city community ecosystem. The core approach of all programmes, curricula and projects launched at the centre is based on the EQ-Thinking Model. It consists of three phases, i.e. Experience – Create – Initiate. The model applies complimentary pedagogic approaches including experiential learning, experience design, human centricity, personal development and inter-disciplinarity. Students’ journey in the Model is supported by mentors, practitioners, trainers and experts coming from different areas. The EQ-Thinking Model focuses on developing four entrepreneurship competencies that are to develop students personal entrepreneurial “gene”, i.e. emotional intelligence, creative thinking, teamwork and effective performance.

Figure 1. Ecosystem of EQ-Thinking Model and its two main supporting components

Experience. The goal of the first phase is to create a relevant experience for an individual, teams, and partners. We strive for every experiential journey to be as meaningful as possible by bringing together experts, business representatives from different spheres and ambitious students.

We create practical educational experiences when a learner has an opportunity to come up with an idea and turn the idea into action. It requires the involvement of external partners in the design and/or delivery of this learning to ensure its relevance to the real world. Practical entrepreneurial experiences provide students with a supportive environment, where mistakes are embraced and failure is a learning tool.

Create. At this phase, students design ideas and prototype them within the value-creating process. This phase is about understanding the given challenge, questioning, shaping, experimenting over it. It includes structured ways of testing ideas and prototypes. During the process that demands flexibility, experimentation, and hunger for constant evolution, students continuously refine the pool of ideas that unlocks creativity and makes them discover a variety of approaches. The core element of this phase is working in interdisciplinary teams and solving real-life cases of business companies, social organizations, and communities. Teams develop ideas, using a lot of creative techniques and methodologies, such as “Experience Design®”; “Design Thinking®”; “User Experience Design®”; “Lego Serious Play®”, “Points of you®” “Business Model Canvas®”, “Method Kit®”, “Personal Business Model You®”, etc.

Initiate. During the last phase, ideas become alive and are expected to make a real impact, be it a business idea, a community project or social innovation. Students identify opportunities to create value by exploring the social, cultural and economic landscape. Competences, gained during Experience and Create phases, allow students to reflect and learn from both success and failure.

Outcomes and impact

The EQ-Thinking Model was launched in 2015. Over 1000 students and 400 school children have participated in the program. More than 120 business and social challenges have been solved. Partnership network, consisting of more than 100 business companies, associated structures, and social partners, was created. CEP unites over 1000 alumni of our Entrepreneurship Academy, 160 of our current students and a network of over 90 companies well known in Lithuania and abroad, 100+ solved challenges of companies and organizations, and over 40 academics and professionals that help students solving the problems along the way.

In 2017 an EQ-Thinking Model-based Entrepreneurship academy was selected as part of 51 good practice cases for the Global University – Business Cooperation study. The full report can be found here. In the subsequent year, Entrepreneurship Academy won a national competition, participated in European Enterprise Promotion Awards 2018 and was shortlisted into the top 3 projects under the category “Investing into entrepreneurial skills”. In the same 2018, an EQ-thinking Model-based project Creativity Lab was nominated as the best youth initiative in the Taurage region.

Entrepreneurship education is more than just a business college program, it must create the right attitude, motives and grit to meet failure and with determination start all over again and win. The entrepreneurial mindset of alumni provides them with success stories and creates value for the EQ-Thinking Model. This particular model has an educational process that increases competencies, motives, and attitudes as we believe these are the core elements in most entrepreneurship education programs that should be developed further and evaluated.

Photo and image credit: Vytautas Magnus University

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