Academic journal article Journal of Business and Accounting

The Impact of Changes in Accounting Program Retention Policies

Academic journal article Journal of Business and Accounting

The Impact of Changes in Accounting Program Retention Policies

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: With an increasing focus on graduation and retention rates, many programs have reevaluated their policies in order to help students identify early the most suitable major for their individual skill sets. Included in these are retention policies that focus on limiting the number of times a student is able to repeat a course and those that determine how many times a student can withdraw from a course. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential impact that a change in retention policy might have on students enrolled in an undergraduate accounting program. Under current policy, students can only take a course twice, excluding withdrawals; however, a potential change in the policy would count a withdrawal as an attempt for a course. Data for all accounting courses over a six-year period were obtained and evaluated to determine the impact. Results indicate that approximately 3% of students were impacted by the current policy and that if the change in policy had been instituted within the sample period, an additional 2% of students would have been prohibited from continuing in the program. These results may prove insightful to programs that have similar policies and are considering the implication of policy changes. Furthermore, students who are "repeaters" are naturally more visible to faculty, therefore there may be a perception that the use of withdrawals is more widespread than it is in actuality.

INTRODUCTION

In recent years, there have been many changes in the environment of higher education including the use of online classes, the creation of massive open online courses (i.e., MOOCs) and fundamental changes in accreditation and governmental oversight. One significant aspect of the changes in oversight is the focus on graduation and retention rates. Due to increasing pressure to meet graduation and retention expectations, many institutions have responded by reevaluating their programs in order to find ways in which to assist students identify the most suitable major for their individual skill sets and to provide institutional processes to help students navigate their academic career. One part of this process is the evaluation of progression and retention policies. These policies provide students with a minimum set of criteria, usually set by the faculty providing the instruction for the major chosen by the student, to which students must adhere to during their pursuit of their degree. This not only provides a degree of rigor in a program consistent with the expectations of faculty and other stakeholders, but it also provides students with criteria that can help them gauge a program's suitability with their abilities. Thus, as a student progresses in a program and they see that they are close to or have not met these criteria, this offers them an opportunity to reevaluate their career goals and make changes to their major to one that is better matched to their likelihood of success and ultimately graduate in a reasonable amount of time.

Programs of instruction, including accounting, provide students with minimum criteria that students must adhere to in order to progress and remain in a program. This criteria generally includes minimum standards related to grades in specified courses, a minimum GPA that must be earned in order to graduate, policies regarding the number of times selected courses can be repeated, and policies that limit the number of course withdrawals. While most of these policies are program specific and are created and maintained by the program, some of these policies may be a university policy that applies to all students, not just students of a specific program. As programs and universities periodically review these policies to ensure that they remain consistent with their expectations, changes are likely to occur. The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of a change at the program level on students enrolled in an undergraduate accounting program if changes were made such that the use of withdrawals from courses would become more restrictive. …

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