Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Academic Professional Conferences: Targeted for Extinction as We Know Them?

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Academic Professional Conferences: Targeted for Extinction as We Know Them?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

In recent years, attendance at academic professional meetings has, for the most part, declined. Given that the benefits of attendance are usually substantial, this paper seeks to identify some causes of the decline in attendance and discusses some logistical issues related to organizing and attending professional meetings. The paper concludes with some recommendations for those who may plan academic conferences in the future and discusses an alternative to actual conference attendance which seems to be growing in popularity--the "virtual conference."

INTRODUCTION

Professional meetings provide an opportunity for social interaction as well as the exchange of information within a profession. More specifically, they provide opportunities for networking, provide a setting conducive to idea sharing and to updating oneself on current research on topics of interest, and allow presenters to get feedback on their research prior to journal submission. (Cooper, Finney & Malone, 1998; Brookshire, 2001; Fischer & Zigmond, 1999). Based on anecdotal observations of a number of long-time attendees (at regional American Accounting Association meetings) and a review of attendance statistics maintained by the American Accounting Association (AAA), it appears that attendance at regional and national AAA meetings has been declining at a rate inconsistent with changes in membership numbers.

Given the benefits of attending such meetings, this paper provides the results of a survey which sought to identify factors influencing accounting educators' decisions to attend or not attend regional AAA meetings and presents recommendations to enhance the regional meeting. Additionally, issues such as conference scheduling and virtual conferencing are discussed.

THE SURVEY

Based on the results of a prior study (Cooper, Finney & Malone, 1998) and the prior beliefs/experiences of the authors, a questionnaire was developed to survey the views of accounting educators in the Southeast region of the AAA. For many years the Southeast region has had the largest membership of any region within the AAA and it retains that distinction (American Accounting Association, 1999). Questionnaires were mailed to 1,100 of the AAA members within the Southeast region. Surveys were completed and returned by 158 faculty members, for a response rate of 14.4%.

SURVEY RESULTS

The typical respondent had been a faculty member for 15 years and a member of AAA for 15 years. Thirty percent of those responding (n = 152) were full professors, 38% associates, 28% assistants, and 4% were instructors. Seventy-six percent (n = 153) were CPAs. With regard to teaching, 62% of the respondents (n=149) taught "all or mostly undergraduate courses," 16% taught "all or mostly graduate courses," and 22% taught an equal mix of graduate and undergraduate courses. One hundred six respondents taught at AACSB accredited schools; of this group, 64 respondents were at schools that had separate accounting accreditation. Fourteen respondents were at ACBSP accredited schools. (It should be noted that not all respondents responded to all questions, thus the number of respondents to each question in the following discussion is shown parenthetically).

The survey instrument listed the years and locations for the eight Southeast regional meetings held from 1990 through 1997. Faculty members were asked to identify which, if any, of these meetings they had attended. Seventy-seven percent of the 158 respondents had attended at least one of these eight meetings. Additionally, 43 of the respondents indicated that during the 1990-1997 period they had attended one or more regional AAA meetings outside the Southeast region. Thus, it was concluded that the majority of respondents had attended the Southeast AAA in recent years and therefore possessed sufficient knowledge regarding the nature of the meetings to make valid comments about the meetings. …

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