Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Enhancing the Teaching and Learning of Auditing: The Case for Descriptive Feedback

Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Enhancing the Teaching and Learning of Auditing: The Case for Descriptive Feedback

Article excerpt

1. Introduction and background

Education policies in South Africa promote a studentcentred approach that integrates assessment with learning (DBE, 2011:40). The teaching and learning of auditing should not be an exception. When assessment is integrated with learning, it mainly serves the purpose of learning, instead of being done solely for administrative and grading purposes. This "assessment for learning" approach can be described as one that encourages learners to engage in active and deep learning. This normally develops independence and self-evaluation skills (Ellery, 2008:422; Sorensen, 2008:85). When assessment is applied to promote learning, feedback plays a vital role. The learners and teachers endorse that feedback on assessment is important for identifying their strengths and weaknesses. It also enhances motivation and improves future grades. In other words, it seems to be effective in promoting improved learner performance (Sorensen, 2008:85).

Recently, there has been growing interest in the area of learner performance in accounting (Zainab et al,, 2013:66). However, a great deal of research focuses on the whole of accounting as a subject and its improvement in general. This improvement involves the design of teaching and learning styles and approaches, as well as application in improving learners' performance in accounting (Ellery, 2008:422; Zainab et al,, 2013:66). Research has not drilled down to explore the same issues with regard to the main component of accounting, namely auditing, adequately.

The limited focus on the teaching and learning of auditing as an element of accounting has resulted in less improvements being recorded on learner performance in this sub-discipline. Many reports, such as national diagnostic reports and provincial education reports, indicate that, in exams and tests, many learners leave the auditing sections blank, or give the wrong answers (DBE, 2016:9). This causes concern, because auditing-related topics permeate and integrate with all other components of accounting (Kerdachi, Kriel & Viljoen, 2012:23).

Auditing is a significant part of accounting, many teachers and learners think that it is characterised merely by either right or wrong answers, and nothing in between (Crawford, Helliar & Monk, 2011:118). They incorrectly expect the learners' answers to corresponded directly with the memorandum for marking. Since auditing is more theoretical than practical, many teachers and learners assume that it deserves limited attention in terms of study (Johnson et al,, 2003:241). They believe that the theoretical content can be easily read and understood in a short time, mainly by means of surface-learning approaches. If not, the answer is regarded as wrong irrespective of how logical it could be. However, the auditing component of accounting deserves an alternative approach when it comes to assessment. Questions on ethical issues, for example, can request opinions, that is; there is not only one correct answer, as given in the textbook or by the teacher (Kerdachi et al,, 2012:10). A learner may And that an issue, which is unethical in one context, may be ethical in a different context (Johnson et al,, 2003:241). Based on these examples, the conventional way of providing feedback on assessment for auditing misreads the role of feedback in the teaching and learning of auditing.

Literature argues that feedback should thus not only be related to incorrect answers. It should also provide learners with the skills needed to analyse questions and in particular words in questions (Crawford et al,, 2011:118). The point is that by giving learners the opportunity to engage with the question, by permitting them to explain their thinking and the reasons for their answers, could help the teacher and the learner to identify knowledge gaps (Gould & Taylor, 2017:3). It could become clear that learners did not understand the meaning of particular words correctly or that they misunderstood the meaning of a question as a whole. …

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