Comparative Analysis of Business and Non-Business Students' Performances in Financial Accounting: Passing Rates, Interest and Motivation in Accounting, and Attitudes toward Reading and Math

Article excerpt

This study compares the passing performances of the Florida A&M University business and non-business students in financial accounting for Spring semesters 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997. The results showed that in the Spring 1992 semester there was parity in the business and the non-business students passing rates (59% and 61%, respectively). Surprisingly, the non-business students lead the business students by 2%. However, in the semesters subsequent Spring 1992, the business students consistently excelled at a much higher performance than the non-business students. This study explores two major advantages that may have had an influence in the substantial increase in the business students' passing rate. An instrument was development to assess the interest and motivation of the two groups in financial accounting and to assess the two groups' attitudes toward reading and math that may have influenced the students' success or failure in financial accounting.

Introduction

Financial accounting is one of the most difficult courses for college students to pass. Students' pre-conceive perception of accounting, that it is difficult, unpalatable or unrealizable, has created a great challenge for the accounting educators in their attempt to increase the passing rates of accounting students.

This study was motivated by the need to find creative ways for educators to assist students, who are majoring in varied disciplines, in passing financial accounting. Also to encourage students to attain a positive perception of accounting. The purpose of this study was to compare business and non-business students': passing rates; interest and motivation in financial accounting; and attitudes toward math and reading subjects that may influence their success or failure in financial accounting.

University/college/school administrators and faculty may find the results of this study helpful in evaluating their accounting program. Some may find that the techniques employed in this study helpful in evaluating their accounting program. Others may find the evaluation design useful as part of their overall evaluation of the financial accounting course.

While the survey was limited to the attitudes of a specific group of college students and the descriptive analysis was limited to only one university, the methodology employed maybe useful as a model in assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of the financial and other accounting courses. By identifying certain factors that influence students' success or failure in financial accounting, further research or studies can be done to evaluate the accounting programs in higher education.

The Financial Accounting Courses

The Florida A&M University School of Business and Industry (SBI) offered financial accounting for both business and non-business majors. Although the business students' and non-business students' classes were taught separately, the course coverage was similar. The courses were as follow:

a) A CG2022-Financial Accounting. This course was designated to business majors.

b) APA2651-Accounting Principles I. This financial accounting course was designated to non-business majors. The course titles differ only to distinguish the majors. During semesters Spring 1992 and 1993 the course number was APA2791.

All courses were taught by accounting professors. The accounting professors had established a team called "The Accounting Group" that met regularly. Its mission was to provide common syllabi or course coverage and exams; to give up-dates on class performance (i.e. attendance, participation, team activities, homework assignments, case studies, etc.); and to share teaching methodology and techniques. The courses were taught in an environment that allows students become active participants in the learning process.

The major differences in the two course offerings were: 1) different text books were used and; 2) the non-business course had less case studies and research requirements. …