Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Introductory Accounting Curriculum Changes: A Longitudinal Investigation of the Complex Issues Facing Small Schools

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Introductory Accounting Curriculum Changes: A Longitudinal Investigation of the Complex Issues Facing Small Schools

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper investigates the effects of changes to the introductory accounting curriculum on student retention, student course grades, student attitudes toward accounting and faculty attitudes toward the new teaching approach. In an effort to meet the changing demands of the accounting profession the faculty at a small midwestern college developed a plan for revising the first two introductory accounting courses offered to all students majoring in a business related field with guidance provided by The Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC). The AECC, appointed by the American Accounting Association (AAA), developed two statements on the future of accounting education. Position Statement Number One: Objectives of Education for Accountants set out the Commission's views on accounting education and provided a focus for the academic community. Position Statement Number Two: The First Course in Accounting outlined the knowledge, skills and orientation accounting students should possess to be successful. Empirical results of student performance are presented. The paper concludes with a discussion of how suggestions made by the AECC and again in the monograph "Accounting Education: Charting the Course through a Perilous Future" will likely affect small colleges. The results of this investigation and the related discussion are important because they address the special issues faced by the hundreds of small schools who are now struggling to comply with directives from the accounting profession regarding curriculum reform.

INTRODUCTION

The accounting profession has been calling for a change in the way colleges and universities prepare students for careers in accounting since the eighties. In 1986, a special committee appointed by the American Accounting Association (AAA) issued recommendations referred to as the Bedford Report. The committee stated that accounting should no longer be taught as a narrow technical subject but instead as a broad information development and distribution function to be used for economic decision making.

Shortly thereafter, the then "Big 8" national accounting firms issued a position statement that specifically delineated the wide range of skills that practitioners of accounting must develop to effectively meet the challenges of the profession (Arthur Andersen, et al., 1989). The reported, entitled Perspectives on Education: Capabilities for Success in the Accounting Profession, was developed because of a growing concern regarding both the quality and number of accounting graduates available for hire by the accounting profession. It emphasized the need for communication, intellectual and interpersonal skills, as well as knowledge of public accounting.

The Perspectives report clearly stated that the focus of education should not be on passing of the CPA examination, but on development of analytical and conceptual thinking. To achieve a change in focus, it was suggested that "the current textbook-based, rule-intensive, lecture/problem style should not survive as the primary means of presentation" (p. 11). Suggested new methods included seminars, simulations, extended written assignments and case analyses. Although the report emphasized capabilities as opposed to curriculum content, the "Big 8" backed up their recommendations for change with millions of dollars to be awarded to institutions of higher education so that innovative curriculum changes could be explored. They also encouraged the AAA to take a leadership role in establishing a committee to guide academia in its curriculum-change efforts.

In response to the Big 8's position statement, the AAA formed a special committee called the Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC) to take on the task of directing the reform of accounting education. The AECC issued its first position statement in 1990 (Flaherty & Diamond, 1996). Position Statement Number One: Objectives of Education for Accountants reiterated, but with greater detail, the recommendations regarding desired capabilities put forth by the "Big 8" in their previous paper. …

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