What and How Students Perceive They Learn When Doing Mini-Companies in Upper Secondary School

Sammanfattning: The aim of this study is to gain more in-depth knowledge into what Swedish upper secondary school students perceive they learn, and the factors that students perceive affect learning, when they start and run mini-companies within the Junior Achievement Company Program.  The data is comprised of interviews with eleven students each of whom ran a mini-company with other students. Situated learning theory, experiential learning theory and theoretical concepts on reflection in learning were used to analyze and further understand the data.The results reveal that the students talk about, and appear to convey, equal importance upon learning general skills as learning business skills when doing their mini-companies. Students describe using general skills they improved while running their mini-companies in other school activities and non-school activities leading to better performance in these activities. Doing business activities triggers learning and provides students with an opportunity to further develop, and learn multiple aspects, of skills.Students identify many factors, such as time, autonomy, assessment, and deadlines, which they associate with their mini-companies. On the whole, they say these factors have a positive effect on learning both business and general skills, however some factors can also inhibit learning. An analysis of all the factors students identified reveals that they originate, or are influenced by, multiple contexts such as school, the Swedish Junior Achievement organization, and the business environment. Together these factors can be said to create a special school community of practice for their mini-company project. Students point out significant differences between their mini-company project, and other school projects they have previously done, thus providing valuable insight into the importance of project design in relation to learning skills and possible pedagogical implications regarding learning general skills in other school projects.

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