Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Assessing Students' Learning in Government Accounting

Academic journal article Journal of International Business Research

Assessing Students' Learning in Government Accounting

Article excerpt


Government Accounting and Reporting (GAR) is one part of the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section of the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examination. The Board of Examiners (BOE) oversees the development of the CPA examination. GAR covers between 8% to 12% of the FAR section (BOE, 2009). Some topics in GAR include governmental accounting concepts; the format and content of a comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR); financial reporting entities; and specific types of transactions and events (BOE, 2009). Additionally, the Governmental Accounting, Financial Reporting and Budgeting (GAFRB) is a section of the Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) examination. The Association of Government Accountants oversees the development of the CGFM examination that covers the field of government financial management in the federal, state and local government environment.

Tools used to assess student learning in this course - a pretest, periodic examinations, utilization of a simulated accounting information system, a group research project and a posttest.

At the start of the Fall 2010 semester, a pretest was administered to all students in the BA401 "Government Accounting" course. The results were that 100% of the students failed (score of less than 70%) this pretest. At the end of the semester, the same test was administered, with the results being that 71% of all students passed (score of 70% and above) the posttest. Overall, there was an increase in students' scores ranging from 18% to 68%. During Spring 2011 semester, this same instrument was used that resulted in 100% of the students failed (score of less than 70%) the pretest and 20% passed (score of 70% and above) the posttest.

The purpose of this assessment is to determine the effectiveness of various teaching strategies and assessment tools used in a government accounting course.


The purpose of this analysis is to assess the effectiveness of the teaching strategies and tools used in a government accounting course. Government Accounting is an advanced level course for students in the accounting major program at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration (UOG SBPA). Students entering BA401 should be able and prepared to obtain greater knowledge in the principles of accounting as they apply to governmental and non-profit entities. BA401 Government Accounting is a course designed to provide a framework for understanding the special accounting and reporting requirements of such entities, with particular emphasis on reporting concepts and budgeting principles.

Private sector entities are in the business of making profits, whereas governmental entities exist to provide services to the general public. Such services are deemed necessary to support the greater good of a community, and to do so in such a way as to maintain operations, while recovering costs without seeking or building profit margins. This stark difference provides the underlying basis for which people, especially those in the accounting field, must understand that, and how, government accounting differs from private sector accounting.

In the private sector, profits are commendable and expected, however in the government arena, profits are neither expected nor commendable (Granof & Khumawala, 2011; Wilson, Kattelus, & Reck, 2010). Any monies constituting a perceived "profit" for the government serves as a seeming signal to citizens that the full range of expected services are not being provided to the community or that taxes being paid are higher than they could be. This fundamental difference is explained to students on the first day of class. Students are informed that they will need to approach learning in BA401 with a mindset different from traditional, profit motive commercial accounting, to understanding how resources are used and managed in the government environment, with a goal of net-zero. …

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