Introductory Accounting for Business Majors: Revisited

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INTRODUCTION

This paper reports on a research project in the area of accounting education. Business faculty members at three colleges/universities were surveyed for their opinions about the essential accounting knowledge needed by business majors. This project was designed to provide necessary information for evaluating and developing curricula for principles of accounting courses in colleges and universities. Specifically, the objectives of the study are to:

* Identify a common body of accounting knowledge that is essential for business majors.

* Determine the level of knowledge perceived to be necessary for the various topics in the common body.

* Compare the perceptions of business faculty members by discipline.

The following sections present the background and related literature review the research methods used for this study, the study results, a discussion, and the conclusion.

BACKGROUND AND RELATED LITERATURE REVIEW

Accounting educators and practitioners have studied the state of accounting education for years. The Bedford Committee in the mid-1980s called for a complete reorientation. The eight largest public accounting firms claimed in 1989 that accounting education was not up-to-date. In 1992, The Accounting Education Change Commission called for a major evaluation of content and teaching methods for the introductory accounting courses. Continuing this theme in 2001, Albrecht and Sack suggested major changes to the course content, curricula, pedagogy, technology, faculty development and reward systems, and strategic direction of accounting education. In many reports, the introductory courses have been the primary focus and concern. Today, the goals for the introductory accounting courses have not changed. Most faculty members would agree that business majors are to learn about accounting as it supports business decision making. Many authors have made substantive recommendations for improving the introductory accounting courses.

The Bedford Committee Report

In the mid-1980s, the Bedford Committee of the American Accounting Association (AAA) assessed the state of accounting education (AAA, 1986). The committee's analysis indicated that accounting education would require major reorientation by the year 2000. The report stated that massive changes had taken place in the business environment--particularly in technology and social values. However, at the same time, academic institutions had failed to evolve as rapidly as business practice. As a result "... a complete reorientation of accounting education is needed" (pp. 171-172).

Big Eight Firms' White Paper

In 1989, the chief executives of the eight largest public accounting firms presented their position on education for the accounting profession. The theme was the same as stated by the Bedford Committee: although the business environment had changed in dramatic ways, accounting education had not kept up-to-date. Curricular change was mandatory for accounting degree programs and for the introductory accounting courses as well (Kullberg et al., 1989, p. 1).

Accounting Education Change Commission Position Statement (AECC) No. Two

The Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC) was appointed in 1989 by the American Accounting Association (AAA). The primary objective of the AECC was to be a catalyst for improving the academic preparation of accountants. The AECC stated that the primary objective of the introductory courses in accounting is "for students to learn about accounting as an information development and communication function that supports economic decision-making" (AECC, 1992, p. 2). Note that this objective reflects a user rather than a preparer perspective. This primary objective of the introductory sequence was in sharp contrast with the long-held objective which has been to teach bookkeeping essentials to accounting majors. In traditional curricula, the introductory courses are viewed as the first courses in accounting (for accounting majors) rather than the only (and last) courses in accounting for business majors (Baldwin & Ingram, 1991, pp. …