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Active Learning Strategies in Introductory Financial
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Published by,The Higher Education Quality,Council of Ontario. 1 Yonge Street Suite 2402,Toronto ON Canada M5E 1E5. Phone 416 212 3893,Fax 416 212 3899,Web www heqco ca. E mail info heqco ca,Cite this publication in the following format. Bloemhof B Christensen Hughes J 2013 Active Learning Strategies in. Introductory Financial Accounting Classes Toronto Higher Education Quality Council of. The opinions expressed in this research document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or official policies. of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario or other agencies or organizations that may have provided support financial or. otherwise for this project Queen s Printer for Ontario 2013. Active Learning Strategies in Introductory Financial Accounting Classes. Executive Summary, The study presented in this report provides a systematic look at how students experienced and.
approached their learning in Introductory Financial Accounting at four Ontario postsecondary institutions. Most introductory courses serve a number of important purposes they provide students with an. introduction and a common background to a subject area they recruit students into a discipline they. foster new skills and attitudes they bring the opportunity to successfully transition to a new learning. environment and so on Typically some of the largest courses taught on campus and full of novice. learners introductory courses are arguably also some of the most challenging for instructors and students. alike Anecdotal evidence suggests that on many campuses Introductory Financial Accounting is no. different in this respect Despite its importance as a gateway to virtually all business or commerce. programs instructors report that student preparation and interest can be inconsistent and that many. students find the course unduly challenging, The primary goal of the study was to work within an action research methodology Paisey Paisey. 2005 to understand and enhance student engagement and effective approaches to learning Dedicated. and committed introductory accounting instructors shared their concerns insights and experience with a. collaborating non accounting researcher in order to consider how financial accounting can be taught more. effectively The four instructors were teachers at a large primarily doctoral university Relevance. University a medium sized comprehensive university Traditional University a university college. partnership based institution Integrative University and a degree granting college Collegial. University 1 Each of the four institutions shared a number of similarities including common subject. matter objectives and formal recognition by accounting professional organizations but each also. represented different business or commerce program contexts and characteristics including class size. and format In particular Relevance and Traditional delivered their introductory courses in one term while. Integrative and Collegial had two terms available for approximately the same subject matter objectives. A key message throughout the study was the importance of practice to learning financial accounting. Approaches that were found to encourage students to practice problems continually whether in class in. tutorials or on their own time varied by context but were those that were ultimately associated with. higher levels of engagement and a meaning and or achieving learning orientation. The primary research questions were,1 How are students experiencing the course. 2 To what extent are students availing themselves of opportunities to engage with the material. afforded by the course environment, 3 To what extent are students creating personal meaning and understanding in Introductory. Financial Accounting as distinct from primarily memorizing the material. The instructors committed to assessing the existing level of engagement achieved by their students and. their approaches to learning by employing the Classroom Survey of Student Engagement CLASSE. 2012 Indiana University Ouimet Smallwood 2005 Smallwood Ouimet 2009 and the Canadian. adaptation of the Lancaster Approaches to Studying Questionnaire ASQ Entwistle 1981 pp 57 60. see also Knapper n d and Woods 2011 pp 283 287 In addition the instructors were willing to. contemplate evidence based changes in their practice following the work of Simmons 2004 p 47. Changes introduced during the study included the introduction of seminars and smaller class sizes the. incorporation of news items and the application of course concepts to real world problems in lecture and. weekly end of class responses exit passes to questions requiring the application of higher order. thinking skills, 1 These pseudonyms were chosen to support the anonymity of the participating sites as well as to indicate the general teaching and. learning context observed by the researchers,Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario 3.
Active Learning Strategies in Introductory Financial Accounting Classes. The most important result in the study data is the high values of student approaches to learning in these. courses measured by the Lancaster instrument All four sites reported approaches to learning that were. substantially higher than normative findings The highest overall index scores were observed for Collegial. University with the final version of course offerings at Traditional and Relevance being a close second. and third Students at Integrative University reported the highest overall rates in the study for a. reproducing orientation while the CLASSE survey indicated that they were also availing themselves of. fewer of the learning opportunities that the instructor viewed as valuable to success. In the absence of normative findings or any reasonable structure for significance of the CLASSE results. we could nonetheless compare the results of the five engagement benchmarks the study team created for. Introductory Financial Accounting across the four sites Collegial University had the highest overall. engagement scores in four of the five benchmarks by the end of the study although the lowest student. effort benchmark At this site students experienced Introductory Accounting in relatively small classes 35. to 45 students with an enthusiastic and dedicated instructor who created a supportive learning. environment around mini lectures a considerable amount of time for in class problem solving and. discussion Students were also welcome to stay after class in order to complete their homework in a. supervised setting where help was readily available Graded on line quizzes ensured that students kept. up with the work and came to class prepared There was apparently no reason for students to struggle. with financial accounting in this class, The site that showed the largest increase in engagement on average was Traditional University where. class size was reduced considerably and coordination between sections was enhanced over the study. period Initially this course had been taught in one 90 minute lecture block with some 300 students. repeated twice to serve the roughly 600 student course enrolment and one 90 minute seminar offered. as twelve 50 student sections Several iterations later it was taught in two 90 minute sections of 80. students The triangulation inherent in the study approach permits some confidence in the observation. that students in this course shifted from a predominantly reproducing orientation toward an achieving. approach over the course of the study, Quadrant analysis of the CLASSE survey responses which compares instructor perceptions of. importance and self reported student engagement behaviours in various learning opportunities indicated. that Collegial and Relevance universities showed the highest degree of congruence between the. instructor and student responses In contrast at Traditional University students reported participating in. activities that did not appear to be highly valued by the instructor We wondered if this suggested that. students were willing to put a lot of effort into the course but were unsure about how to direct that effort. Conversely at Integrative University the instructor perceived many more behaviours as being important. than the number in which the students reported engaging These students reported some of the highest. levels of classroom attendance but did not appear to take full advantage of other learning opportunities. that were available to them To us this suggested that students may have had some tendency to. narrowly equate learning with attending class, Together with the limited focus group data available and instructor and collaborating researcher insights. into the respective course environments and programs these surveys support the conclusion that each. site employed some valuable pedagogic strategies that fostered student engagement and effective. learning approaches Selection bias put some constraints on quantification of the relative size of changes. in the engagement benchmarks but a rich array of data is available to advance the broader scholarship. of learning in Introductory Financial Accounting With that in mind some conclusions can be made about. best practices in learning for a first tertiary course or course sequence in a dynamic and rapidly. changing profession, Consistent demonstration followed by application and repeated practice was found to be associated with. higher levels of student engagement and a tendency toward a meaning and or achieving orientation At. Traditional University we learned that salient and equitable grading encouraged students to practice. accounting problems and parsimonious grading based more on effort the number of problems. attempted than quality of outcome could frustrate the learning process to some extent At Relevance. University practice was coupled with an effective use of class time ensured by clear rules for the conduct. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario 4, Active Learning Strategies in Introductory Financial Accounting Classes.
of class meetings Grade incentives in the form of nominal bonus marks for attending seminar in which. problems were practiced were reported by the students in the focus groups as being particularly useful. for encouraging their participation They recommended the same approach be used for the completion of. homework assignments, The instructor at Integrative University largely used a lecture based approach in class and his students. had normalized a particularly high reproducing orientation According to the CLASSE survey evidence. students in the course did not report taking advantage of what seems to be quite helpful learning support. despite a class size conducive to significant instructor engagement within regularly scheduled class time. and availability outside of class, Classes at Collegial University were structured to put student capability and confidence on equal footing. with practice and support to foster engagement with accounting both inside and outside of class For this. instructor an apprenticeship type model of instruction coupled with his willingness to be consistently. available by phone or email meant that students almost could not help but succeed This learning. environment also had considerably higher non exam based assessments relative to the other three sites. providing a tangible incentive to complete the assignments which goes some way to explaining higher. engagement and Approaches to Studying Index scores Despite having the largest decline of an. admittedly small engagement benchmark score over the course of the study the course was rated as. more interesting and the material less difficult by these students than the interest and difficulty reported. by students at the other three sites, The student experience at Collegial University provided a touchstone in the study because the instructor. opted not to introduce an intervention when he saw the encouraging engagement results in the first. survey The instructor at Traditional also did not undertake a particular teaching intervention but instead. adapted his course as class sizes were changed by the administration to address inconsistencies in. attendance that were perceived to be related to the size of the classes and the credibility of the seminar. experience Traditional University saw student engagement improve somewhat with a notable reduction. in reproducing orientation in favour of an achieving orientation to learning. At Relevance the instructor used current events and topical accounting examples as a vehicle to model. and communicate the complexity of judgment used in the discipline A significant proportion of focus. group participants credited this teaching technique with influencing their decision to persist in the. discipline Such favourable experiences in class and tutorials apparently contributed to high achieving. scores and highly congruent uptake of the engagement activities identified by the instructor with success. in learning the material, Written responses to thought provoking questions were used at the conclusion of class at Integrative. University to promote student engagement with the material with the additional effect of expanding the. communication from student to instructor about what students had grasped from the class and where. they were still struggling These ungraded exit passes were readily completed by the students. suggesting that other activities judged as engaging by the instructor could be similarly intr. Active Learning Strategies in I ntroductory Financial A cou tig Classes T or t Higher Edu a Quality ouncil f Ontario The opinions expressed in this research document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views or official policies of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario or other agencies or organizations that may have provided support financial or

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