Academic journal article Issues in Accounting Education

The Role of Supplemental Instruction in the First Accounting Course

Academic journal article Issues in Accounting Education

The Role of Supplemental Instruction in the First Accounting Course

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: This study investigates empirically the role of supplemental instruction (SI) as a means of enhancing student performance in the first accounting course. SI is a proactive educational intervention program that targets traditionally "high-risk" courses and employs collaborative learning techniques emphasizing learning strategies and critical-thinking skills. This emphasis on "learning to learn" has been advocated by the Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC) as a goal of the first accounting course.

ANCOVA-based results from 1,359 students in nine sessions of Principles of Accounting indicate that SI was effective at increasing academic performance; after controlling for self-selection bias, participation in both voluntary and mandatory SI sessions was found to be positively associated with the total points earned in the course. Additionally, a step pattern is observed in the increased performance for both the voluntary and mandatory attendance phases of the study, indicating that the level of SI attendance may play a role in the benefits obtained. The implications of this analysis for the accounting curriculum are addressed.


The first course in accounting has been recognized as critically important in the development of the skills necessary to be successful in both accounting and nonaccounting careers, as well as in shaping the perceptions of the accounting profession itself and attracting students into the accounting major (AECC 1996; Cohen and Hanno 1993; Geiger and Ogilby 2000). The Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC), in Position Statement No. 2, stresses that the first course in accounting should meet the educational needs of students by conveying the knowledge and skills necessary for lifelong learning. According to the AECC (1996), special emphasis should be given to instructing students in how to "learn to learn." However, the inherent difficulty of this first course has often served as an obstacle to the achievement of these objectives and a barrier to entry into the accounting profession. The technical demands of accounting have often led to discouragement, failure, and overall poor student perceptions of the accounting profession and curriculum.

Several approaches and suggestions have been proposed as a means of addressing these problems and increasing student retention; these include tutoring, an increased conceptual focus, working in groups, and increased writing assignments. Supplemental Instruction (SI), an educational intervention program aimed at improving student learning in college courses with high failure and withdrawal rates, has also been advanced as a possible means of achieving the AECC's objectives while maintaining an appropriate level of rigor in the class (Etter et al. 2000). The purpose of this study is to investigate empirically the association between the use of an SI program as an educational intervention and academic achievement in introductory accounting.

Initially, this study focused on the classic SI model in which students voluntarily select whether to participate in the program. Results indicate that SI is positively associated with performance in introductory accounting. Further investigations reveal that the level of student participation in SI may play a role in academic performance. Specifically, a step pattern exists in the results in which students experience grade improvement at relatively low levels of attendance (approximately 16 percent of the SI sessions) and then again at relatively high levels of attendance (approximately 75 percent of the SI sessions). To address problems associated with low levels of SI participation, a modified SI program was examined in which student attendance was mandatory. Consistent with the initial results, SI attendance appears to be associated with increased student performance; again, the relationship between the level of SI attendance and student performance appears to be represented by a step pattern. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.