Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

Using Modern Business Practice to Enhance the Learning Process in the Introductory Accounting Course

Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

Using Modern Business Practice to Enhance the Learning Process in the Introductory Accounting Course

Article excerpt


Industrial cases and projects do not connect with millennial students. They do not care about accounting for Buicks or old warehouses filled with dusty inventory. Their parents buy Buicks. They, on the other hand, understand and consume music, movies, and iPhone apps. For students of the digital age who want a job offer from Google or Apple, traditional industrial examples are not effective instructional tools.

Instead, accounting professors need a powerful teaching example that's instantly understood across the academic landscape. This paper explores such a project. The GiftCard Project addresses new business challenges from marketing, accounting, supply chain, and overall business strategy perspectives, providing a robust, meaningful, and relevant learning experience for millennial students. There are plenty of business strategy issues to go around and more than enough "what-ifs" to occupy the best accountant.


The giftcard, one of the most dynamic business practices of the 21st Century, emerged in the mid-1990s to replace the paper-based giftcertificates that became popular in the 1930s. A giftcard is a "credit card" type of product that carries a balance via prepayment. Giftcard expenditures have gone from less than $1 billion annually to more than $100 billion in 2012. They are a growing source of revenue for diverse retail giants, such as Macy's, Home Depot, and McDonald's, as well as for smaller local vendors. Their popularity and use spans all ages, from baby boomers to the millennial generation. Social media giftcards are extremely popular with the millennial generation due to the vast assortment of 21st century entertainment tools, such as iTunes and iPhones, now available. Giftcards are the preferred method of rewarding performance on the job; movie theaters and other popular youth-oriented retail venues award them in loyalty programs, and they are the ideal gifts for this generation. For these reasons, we believe a project designed around giftcards provides the perfect contemporary instructional tool to achieve the common learning objectives in introductory financial accounting.

Based on our review of several sources, including the Accounting Education Change Commission report (1990), Albrecht and Sack (2000), and Ammons and Mills (2005), along with current textbooks in financial accounting, we noted the following common learning objectives for the introductory course in financial accounting:

1. Develop analytical and problem-solving skills.

2. Understand key accounting concepts and principles.

3. Perform transaction analyses for typical business events (e.g., prepare journal entries).

4. Acquire sufficient knowledge and skills to complete the accounting cycle.

5. Prepare basic financial statements (e.g., balance sheet, income statement, and statement of owners' equity).

Table 1 illustrates how the GiftCard Project supports these key learning objectives for the introductory course in financial accounting.

Demirdjian (2012) and Milliron (2008) both note that the millennial generation is engaged by trendy practices, gadgets, and consumer choice. By connecting current trends in consumer practices (i.e. giftcards, including digital versions) with classroom instruction, the GiftCard Project addresses the emerging issue of how best to teach introductory accounting to the millennial generation. In addition, we believe that the GiftCard Project will have long-term relevance, replacing the manufacturing examples that historically have been used in introductory courses in accounting to become the 21st Century Practice Set. In this paper, we describe the GiftCard Project and discuss its relevance to the introductory course in accounting.


Since the early 1990s, there has been a constant striving toward innovation and improvement in accounting education, with the Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC) in the forefront of this effort. …

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