Learning Style and Entrepreneurial Tendency: Analysis of Entrepreneurial Tendency with Learning Style for Non-Business Students

Wen-Hao Huang, Ph.D MBA
Jeong Hwan Choi, MBA
Sun Joo Yoo

Human Resource Education
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
351 Education, 1310 South Sixth Street

Tel.) 217 333-0807

Dec. 01, 2007
This exploratory study investigated the relationship between learners’ learning styles and entrepreneurial tendencies. By understanding such relationship, entrepreneurship educators would be able to customize learning environments that compliment learners’ learning styles while developing their entrepreneurship. The study used Gregorc Style Delinear (GSD) to measure learning styles and General Enterprising Test (GET) to assess entrepreneurial tendency. The results, based on 91 participants’ data, suggested significant positive and negative correlations between certain learning styles and entrepreneurial tendency. For instance, Concrete-Sequential learners are more likely to have higher tendency in Needs for Achievement (from GET). The implication of this study suggested an empirical approach to design pedagogically sound entrepreneurship education programs. The alignment between educational interventions for developing certain aspects of entrepreneurial tendency and learning styles is crucial.

Entrepreneurship is very important to sustain innovative activities which provide economic vitality of an organization as well as a country, which is a mindset of taking risk, searching for opportunities, capitalizing on creative ideas, and practicing systematic innovations (Lee, 2005), where innovation is defined as the successful development or commercialization of new products, services, and business systems (Lee, 1999). Such entrepreneurial activities are crucial to provide sustainable and competitive advantages to organizations or society and individuals need to have strong entrepreneurial tendency in order to successfully carry out innovative initiatives (Cromie, & Callaghan, 1997).
    By realizing the importance of developing sustainable entrepreneurship within organizations, many business organizations and educational institutes have established entrepreneurship development programs for their employees and students. The pedagogical effects of such entrepreneurship education programs, however, remain ambiguous and unexplored. To initiate this inquiry we first and foremost need to identify the role of learning styles in the process of developing entrepreneurship intended by entrepreneurship education programs; and we also need to take learners’ entrepreneurial tendency into account. Thus educators and HRD practitioners can customize the design of entrepreneurship education programs to accommodate different learning styles and various levels of entrepreneurial tendency, in order to enhance the learning outcome.


     Many researchers have attempted to measure entrepreneurship (Engle, 1997; Hazeldine, 2007) by applying entrepreneurial orientation (EO), Intrapreneurship Assessment Instrument, Conceptualized Perspective of Entrepreneurship (CE), Kirton’s Adoption-innovation Inventory (KAI), and Rotter’s locus of control scale (LOC). Durham University Business School (1988) developed the General Enterprising Test (GET) with five key characteristics: need for achievement, locus of control, need for autonomy, creative tendency, and moderate/calculated risk taking. Although these instruments have suggested that entrepreneurial tendency is measurable and could be indicative for entrepreneurship development (Cromie & Jansen, 1992), the link between entrepreneurial tendency and how to effectively scaffold desired learning process in entrepreneurship education, however, is still missing. In other words, we still do not know how to design learning environments in entrepreneurship education that compliment learners’ entrepreneurial tendency.
To establish the missing link, first, we must understand the implications of learning styles in designing learning environments for entrepreneurship education. Gregorc Style Delineator (GSD has been widely used to measure learning styles (Drysdale, 2001; Orr, 1999, Ross, 1999, 2002). Ross (1999; 2002) suggested that different learning styles might induce different levels of performance in computer-aided instructions implying the feasibility of customizing educational interventions according to learners’ learning styles, to enhance the learning experience. In the context of entrepreneurship education, Loebler (2006) suggested that entrepreneurship education should be designed via (1) Transmission approach (e.g., conventional lecturing) and (2) Constructivist approach (e.g., focusing on developing learners’ proactive learning through experiential learning). Entrepreneurship educators should provide entrepreneurial learning environments for learners to cultivate autonomy, self-reliance, independent thinking and self-governing ability (Loebler, 2006). For example, Kilbane, Theroux, Sulej, Bisson, Hay, & Boyer (2004) reported the effectiveness of Real-Time Case Method (RTCM) in teaching business school students about innovative thinking in entrepreneurship. The students dealt with real cases in real-time by working with real companies to generate innovative business solutions. By using advanced Information Technology, RTCM successfully created an interactive and constructivist learning environment to improve the teaching and learning process in entrepreneurial education.
Second, we must consider the entrepreneurial tendency when designing supportive learning environments. For example, if students have low tendency of need for achievement (from GET), the learning environments ought to provide more opportunities to develop that particular tendency. Such opportunities, however, might not align with students’ learning styles hence impedes the entrepreneurship development process.
Therefore the purpose of the study is to empirically investigate the relationship between different learning styles and entrepreneurial tendency. So that entrepreneurship educators can customize the learning environments to reinforce such relationships, to facilitate the process of entrepreneurship development.


    The study was conducted in Fall 2006 in a public Midwestern university in the U.S. Correlation analyses were conducted to identify the relationships between two sets of survey data from 91 participants with non-business majors (e.g., education, science, etc.). All data were collected via voluntary participations by a web-based survey interface.
For the first survey data set Gregorc Style Delineator was applied to measure participants’ learning styles. Participants answered ten ranking questions and the results is categorize into four different learning styles. See Table 1.
Durham Business School’s General Enterprising Tendency (GET) (CITATION) was used to identify the entrepreneurial tendency as the second survey data set. The GET has 54 explanatory questions and test takers answer with Yes or No. By synthesizing the results, five different sections can be assessed. See Table 2.

On the other hand, Gregorc Style Delineator is applied to assess the different learning style. Ten ranking questions are handed on to participants and the results are synthesized to categorize into four different learning styles. Table 2 shows the style comparison.
The survey questions were delivered to undergraduate education department students at a mid-west university through internet and the total responses were 91.

According to Gregorc Style Delineator (GSD), 91 participants learning styles are identified as Figure 1.

Figure Table 13. Statistical Analysis of Learning Style

Learning Style







Number of Participantss








34 %

8 %

31 %

19 %

12 %

100 %


Concrete Sequential (CS, 31) learning style is predominant one, followed by Abstract Random (AR, 28). Concrete Random (CR, 14), and Abstract Sequential (AS, 7) are minors. However there are 10 Binomials who have a same score at different styles.


Figure Table 24. Descriptive Statistical Analysis of Entrepreneurial Tendency

Entrepreneurial Tendency





Std. Dev.

Suggested Mean


(Need for achievement)








(Need for autonomy/independence)








(Creative tendency)








(Moderate/calculated risk taking)








(Drive and determination)







Figure 2 shows the statistical analysis results for Entrepreneurial Tendency in accordance with the Durham GET Test. Comparing with the original average score for each section shown in Table 1, we can say that the group’s entrepreneurial tendencies are lower than the suggested mean. Especially Section 1 (Need for achievement), and Section 5 (Drive and determination) are significantly lower than the average, which can be interpreted that the group have little characteristics in achievement and drive/determination.
    Correlation analysis of entrepreneurial tendency (GET), learning style (GSD) and entrepreneurial willingness is conducted and the results are shown in Figure 3. CS style is positively correlated with entrepreneurial tendency in particular drive and determination characteristic (Section 5) is significantly correlated with CS style. However, CR style is negatively correlated with entrepreneurial tendency. It is also significantly correlated with Section 5. The willingness to be entrepreneur is the answer from participants about the question “Would you like to have your own business someday in the future.” And it is negatively related with AS style.


Table 5. Correlation Analysis of Entrepreneurial Tendency (GET) and Learning Style (GSD)












S1_Need for achievement

Pearson Correlation






.189 (*)



-.178 (*)


Sig. (2-tailed)










S2_Need for autonomy/independence

Pearson Correlation











Sig. (2-tailed)










S3_Creative tendency

Pearson Correlation






.192 (*)





Sig. (2-tailed)










S4_Moderate/calculated risk taking

Pearson Correlation









-.184 (*)


Sig. (2-tailed)










S5_Drive and determination

Pearson Correlation











Sig. (2-tailed)










CS Practical

Pearson Correlation











Sig. (2-tailed)










AS Probable

Pearson Correlation











Sig. (2-tailed)










AR Potential

Pearson Correlation











Sig. (2-tailed)










CR Possible

Pearson Correlation











Sig. (2-tailed)










*Correlation is significant at the 0.1 level (2-tailed).

**Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

***Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed)



As we discussed in results, entrepreneurial tendency is related with learning style. We can interpret the results that CS style students who are practical and focus on material reality have strong entrepreneurial tendency to achieve their visionary goals. But CR style students who have strong sense of ego and focus on process have negative minds to be entrepreneurs for their concern of risk. The negative relationship between AS style and willingness to be entrepreneur can be translated that AS style students didn’t show their true tendency for their hedging of complexity.

When we started this research we hoped to answer the question “What is the best ‘optimizing educational interventions’ for each different learning style to promote entrepreneurship” and our results shows the seed of possibility for developing a optimal educational interventions for promoting entrepreneurship. If we can identify a group’s learning style, we can supply the matched effective learning environment to improve the educational performances. On the other hand, if we can apply the educational technology with individual computer system by implementing e-learning system, we can improve entrepreneurial education performance by using individually adaptive educational contents. As shown in Table 3, each different style students have their own preferable media, teaching methods and practices. As we already showed in our research, learning style is related with entrepreneurial tendency. Then we can hypothesize that if we can provide optimal environments and contents in accordance with different learning style, we can conduct a more effective entrepreneurial education.

Table 1 General Enterprising Tendency (GET) Test Assessment



Max.  Score

Suggested Mean

Characteristics of high scorer


Need for achievement



Forward looking

Self sufficient

Optimistic rather than pessimistic

Task orientated

Results oriented

Self confident

Persistent and determined

Dedication to completing a task


Need for autonomy



Likes doing unconventional things

Prefers working alone

Need to do their own thing

Dislikes taking orders

Likes to make up their own mind

Does not bow to group pressure

Is stubborn and determined


Creative tendency



Are imaginative and innovative

Have a tendency to daydream

Are versatile and curious

Have lots of ideas

Are intuitive and guess well

Enjoy new challenges

Like novelty and change


Moderate/Calculated risk taking



Act on incomplete information

Judge when incomplete data is sufficient

Accurately assess your own capabilities

Be neither over nor under ambitious

Evaluate likely benefit against likely costs

Set challenging but attainable goals


Drive and determination



Take advantage of opportunities

Discount fate

Make your own luck

Be self confident

Believe in controlling your own destiny

Equate results with efforts

Show considerable determination


Source: The Durham Business School General Enterprising Tendency (GET) Test, © Small Enterprise Development Unit Durham Business School, 2003
Table 2 Style Comparison by Grogorc Style Delineator


Frame of reference

CS (Concrete Sequential)

AS (Abstract Sequential)

AR (Abstract Random)

CR (Concrete Random)

Key word





World of reality

Concrete world of the physical senses

Abstract world of the intellect based upon concrete world

Abstract world of feeling and emotion

Concrete world of activity and abstract world of intuition

Ordering ability

Sequential step by step linear progression

Sequential and two-dimensional tree like

Random web-like and multi dimensional

Random three dimensional patterns

View of time

Discrete units of past, present, future

The present, historical past, and projected future

The moment time is artificial and restrictive

Now: total of the past, interactive present, and seed for the future

Thinking processes

Instinctive, methodical, deliberate

Intellectual, logical, analytical, correlative

Emotional, psychic, perceptive, critical

Intuitive, instinctive, impulsive, independent

Validation process

Personal proof via the senses: accredited experts

Personal intellectual formulae; conventionally accredited experts

Inner guidance system

Practical demonstration; personal proof; rarely accepting of outside authority

Focus of attention

Material reality; physical objects

Knowledge, facts, documentation, concepts, idea

Emotional attachments, relationship, and memories

Applications, methods, processes and ideals


Product, prototype, refinement, duplication

Synthesis, theories, models, and matrices

Imagination, the arts, refinement, relationships

Intuition, originality, inventive, and futuristic

Environmental preference

Ordered, practical, quiet, stable

Mentally stimulating, ordered and quiet, non-authoritative

Emotional and physical freedom; rich,; active and colorful

Stimulus-rich, competitive, free from restriction

Use of language

Literal meaning and labels, succinct, logical

Polysyllabic words, precise, rational; highly verbal

Metaphoric, uses gestures and body language; colorful

Informative, lively, colorful; word do not convey true meaning

Primary evaluative word(s)

Good, Not Bad


Super, Fantastic, Marvelous

Great, Superior

Negative characteristics

Excessive conformity; unfeeling, possessive

Opinionated, sarcastic, aloof

Spacey, overly sensual, smothering

Deceitful, unscrupulous, ego-centric

Source: Greogrc Style Delineator, Gregorc Associates, Inc.

Table 3 Learning Styles & Preferences of Media, Teaching Methods and Practices

Gregorc Style Delineator

Concrete Sequential (CS)

Concrete Random (CR)

Abstract Sequential (AS)

Abstract Random (AR)


Deriving information through direct, hands-on experience. Touchable, concrete materials

Experimental, trial-and-error attitude, Flashes of insight

Strong skills in working with written and verbal symbols. Grasp concepts and ideas vicariously

Receive information in an unstructured manner and like group discussions and multi-sensory experiences


Workbooks, Demonstration teaching, programmed instruction, Well-organized field trips, Practical orientation

Games, Simulations, Independent study projects, problem-solving activities, optional assignments

Reading and listening, Rational presentations given by authorities

Medium movie, group discussion, question-and-answer sessions, and television

Media, Teaching methods and practices

l        Workbooks

l        Handouts

l        Drill

l        Demonstrations

l        Results orientations

l        Practical lessons

l        Hands-on practice

l        Projects

l        Models

l        Manuals

l        Step-by-step directions

l        Programmed instruction

l        Orderly classroom

l        Orderly lab

l        Direct application problems

l        Computer-aided information

l        Experiments

l        Simulations

l        Mini-lectures

l        Critical issues

l        Interactive video

l        Problem-solving curriculum

l        Independent study

l        Computer and other games

l        Trial and error discovery

l        Optional reading assignments

l        Invent new ways of doing things

l        Stress challenges and probing questions

l        Insist students think for themselves

l        Lecture

l        Textbooks

l        Audiotapes

l        Documented evidence

l        Study carrels

l        Likes scope & sequence

l        Evaluate by formal testing

l        Intellectual debate

l        Guide individual study

l        Likes long-range plans

l        Teach from a base of content expertise

l        Supplemental reading assignment

l        Develop blueprint from an idea to visualize final produce

l        Group discussion

l        Use media

l        Flexible with time demands

l        Personalized classes

l        Concerned with mood of class

l        Use thematic approach to content

l        Create aesthetic or interpretative products

l        Assign group rather than individual activities

Source: 1) Claxton, Charles, S; Murrell, Pratricia H. (1987). Learning styles: Implication for improving educational practices

2) Butler, T. J. & Pinto-zipp, G. (2006). Students’ learning styles and their preferences for online instructional methods, Journal of educational technology systems, 34(2), p. 199-221

Posted by Jeonghwan Choi

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