Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Factors Affecting Student Achievement in Cost Accounting

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Factors Affecting Student Achievement in Cost Accounting

Article excerpt


In the last 15 years, there has been little published research on student success in management accounting course work. To our knowledge, there have been no published empirical papers focusing on factors affecting success in upper level management accounting course work in an American classroom setting. In our research, we control for different grading schemes across instructors, and we find that student grade point average, performance in managerial accounting principles and performance in the first statistics course are all significantly related to success in cost accounting. Math achievement, student age, gender and the length of time between taking principles and cost accounting are insignificant. With regard to course sequencing, this paper considers issues not addressed before in the published literature. We find that students perform significantly better in cost accounting if they first complete Intermediate Accounting I. Performance in Intermediate I does not significantly differ between students who have already taken cost accounting vs. those who take cost subsequent to Intermediate I. We find that cost accounting students perform better in the first finance course if they delay finance until after taking cost accounting. These results may have implications for student academic advisement on course sequencing.


Educators are motivated to understand how students learn from a number of perspectives. Faculty and advisors seek methods and environments facilitating student achievement in course work which will support future learning and eventual career success. College deans and department chairs share these goals but are constrained in providing resources by issues related to faculty staffing and deployment within limited budgets. University administrators, scholastic accrediting bodies and politicians, each reacting to demands from their own constituents, want the benefits of well-prepared professionals, but their positions require them to validate the cost of education and weigh these costs against outcomes through an increasingly demanding process of assessment. With budget limitations and greater assessment obligations occurring at a time when the 150-hour requirement has become the norm and the number of accounting graduates has fallen drastically (Miller, 2003), research on how students learn seems especially timely. With fewer students choosing to major in accounting, accounting programs are not necessarily attracting the best and the brightest. Despite smaller numbers of accounting students, accounting programs must strengthen the quality of graduates entering the profession under the scrutiny of a wide variety of stakeholders in this post-Enron economy. Faculty need more than ever to understand how to help students learn.

In predicting student success, researchers have drawn on results of studies across a broad spectrum of education which conclude that aptitude, experience, effort and environment contribute significantly to academic achievement. Our research extends the literature exploring factors affecting student success in general (and in introductory accounting courses in particular) to address empirically factors affecting student achievement in higher-level accounting course work, focusing on cost accounting. This work builds on prior research on the effects of student ability, preparation and demographics and in addition considers how course prerequisites, course sequencing and class size affect student learning.

Beyond reconsideration of those variables identified as important by previous researchers, our research extends the literature in four important ways. First, we address factors associated with student success in cost accounting in an American setting. Second, we extend the literature on the importance of class size as a factor in the learning process by examining the subsequent performance (in cost accounting) of students who studied introductory accounting in small versus large classes. …

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