Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

Using Action Research to Promote Increased Academic Success for Educationally Disadvantaged Students

Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

Using Action Research to Promote Increased Academic Success for Educationally Disadvantaged Students

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper has two objectives. The first is to advocate that "action research" be considered as a methodology for research in accounting education. The second is to describe an on-going Action Research Project (the Project), the purpose of which has been to increase the academic success rates of educationally disadvantaged students accounting and business courses. The Project is part of an Alternative Admissions Program (AAP) located at a mid-sized public university in the Northeast United States. The Project has involved a small sub-set of students in the AAP who expressed an interest in majoring in business or accounting. The Project description covers a period of eight years during which time the authors engaged in a cyclical series of action steps including planning, acting, observing and reflecting (Grundy, 1988). Based upon qualitative data gathering through observation of student behavior, and through completion of certain assessment forms, frequent changes were made to teaching methods and the general conduct of the Project. The Project's success has been attributable in part to smaller class sizes and individual attention. However, engaging students in positive learning experiences has also been important. While the numbers are small, we feel that the Project has contributed to improving the lives of the students involved. Throughout this Project, our hope has been that as the expectation levels of educationally disadvantaged students grow, they will in turn be motivated towards higher levels of academic achievement, thus permanently removing the educationally disadvantaged stigma.

Key words: action research, accounting education, educationally disadvantaged students, minority students

INTRODUCTION

This paper describes an Action Research Project (ARP, or the Project) to promote increased academic success for educationally disadvantaged students in accounting and business 1 courses. The Project was part of an Alternative Admissions Program (AAP) at a mid-sized public university located in the Northeast United States. The overall purpose of the AAP was to help educationally disadvantaged students, primarily students of color, achieve greater success in college and university programs. As Hammond points out (Hammond, 1985, 1997; Hammond and Streeter, 1994), there has been a lack of persons of color in both academic accounting and the accounting profession. The reasons for this can be attributed in part to inadequate educational resources and opportunities in urban neighborhoods, thus leading to reduced expectations regarding academic success in college and university for students coming from such backgrounds. While it is clear that 2 educational opportunities should be made available to all students regardless of economic or ethnic background, it is important to recognize that there is disparity in educational opportunities among school districts in the United States which often leads to lower expectations for success in college and university programs for students coming from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. Despite these disparities in educational opportunities, it is important to recognize that students coming from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds can achieve academic success. This paper advocates action research as one way of promoting increased academic success for educationally disadvantaged students in accounting and business courses.

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. The next section briefly discusses the role of action research in the social sciences and higher education. The section following describes the AAP. The specifics of the Project will then be discussed. Findings and recommendations from the Project will then be presented in a final section which summarizes and concludes the paper.

ACTION RESEARCH

Action research encompasses several models of interpretive and qualitative research which are specifically characterized by their twin objectives of engaging in the pursuit of useful knowledge and seeking to facilitate social or organizational change. …

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