Use of a Job Cost Simulation to Engage Gen Y Students

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

Meeting the educational needs of the current generation of students, referred to as Gen Y students, is a pedagogical challenge. Research suggests that Gen Y students learn most effectively in environments where they are actively engaged and in control of their learning. The in-class learning simulation described in this paper is designed to appeal to the more active learning style of Gen Y students. The simulation focuses on the process flow and accounting for products in a job cost environment.

The simulation requires students to actively perform three different job functions in a manufacturing environment. First, they assume the role of inventory manager in which they receive and inventory raw materials. Second, they assume production roles, in which they analyze prototypes, order materials, build products, and accumulate production costs. Third, they assume the role of cost accountant. In this role, they account for the accumulation and application of product costs. By completing this simulation, students build a frame of reference for manufacturing production processes that should deepen their understanding of accounting in a production cost environment.

This simulation has a difficulty level appropriate for freshman and sophomores but can be easily adapted for upper level accounting classes. Several options for adaptability of content are presented in the instructor's notes. The simulation is designed to follow lectures on the text material and takes approximately one hour of class time. It does not require any outside preparation by students. Prior students have rated this simulation as a very helpful hands-on learning experience that greatly enhanced their understanding of the job cost process.

CASE SYNOPSIS

Introductory accounting courses are generally taught to undergraduate business majors as part of the required basic business core. Many of the students are non-accounting majors and may lack the motivation to study accounting. Most have little work experience and may also lack a frame of reference for the concepts taught in class. While these demographics have made accounting education challenging in the past, meeting the educational needs of the current generation of students, Gen Y students, is proving to be even more of a challenge.

Gen Y students (1984 to present) grew up with computers, the Internet, beepers, cell phones, MTV, and a proliferation of computer games. Learning styles of this generation are more active and visual than verbal (Eisner, 2004), causing traditional teaching methods to be less effective. For these students to learn, they must be actively engaged and in control of their learning (Arhin & Johnson-Mallard, 2003).

The use of non-traditional teaching aids has been shown to be beneficial to the learning process and is becoming more common (Gupta, Elson, & Ostapski, 2006; Hoffjan, 2005; Albrecht, 1995). The use of games and simulations to teach managerial accounting concepts engages students in the process, helps them relate the concepts to real-world situations, and enhances their ability to retain the knowledge without memorization. Goman (2006) refers to this style of learning as "edutainment", an environment where students want to be entertained to induce learning.

This simulation embodies these strategies by allowing students to design and build products in a manufacturing environment following the product from design through completion and sale using a job costing methodology. Students are actively engaged in both the manufacturing process and accounting for the manufacturing processes as they complete the exercise. Student feedback indicates that the simulation was perceived as an effective learning strategy.

THE SIMULATION

The simulation materials include simulation instructions, [c]Legos, product prototypes, inventory lists, and forms. The forms consist of a job cost sheet, material requisition forms, time sheets, raw material inventory cards, and receiving reports (see Exhibit 1 in instructors' notes for all simulation forms). …