Accounting for Business Decisions A: addressing misconceptions
- This is a core first year subject with enrolments of over 1000 students.
- A timetabled Week 1 interactive lecture provides students with an overview of the subject and opportunities to begin thinking like an accountant. There is no assessable content in Week 1.
- From Week 2, tutorials include material that supports transition to university and students’ sense of belonging.
What's going on here?
In Week 1, students are taken through the basics of the subject, such as assessments and the textbook, as well as misconceptions about accounting being mathematically difficult (they are shown the lecturer’s calculator that was ‘stolen’ from a preschool).
Students are introduced to UTSOnline (hopefully reintroduced, as they will have previously been emailed with instructions to log on, watch the video and download the subject outline). They are encouraged to log on during the lecture as the lecturer discusses and navigates the site.
The online presentation tool Zeetings is used to allow students to ask questions anonymously, and respond to questions posed by the course team. This introduces students to the tool, which will be used throughout the session. In this activity, students complete statements which require them to consider their expectations, providing valuable information for the teaching team. The first statement that students complete is:
I am studying accounting because...
a) I plan to be an accountant and it is the first step in my career
b) I don't plan to be an accountant but I think it will be useful
c) I am doing the subject because it is part of my course
d) I don't see why I should study accounting for my course
e) I cannot think of any subject I would rather study less
This fosters a discussion of motivation to study – it is easy to motivate the students who choose (a) or (b), but students who choose (d) or (e) will need more support. This discussion is then related back to an earlier set of slides from the lecture, where accounting is framed as a subject that may not be their first love (or a number of other loves). The students are invited to ‘fall in love’ a little with accounting.
The next statement students complete is:
I am confident in my ability to study and pass this accounting subject:
a) I have no idea or expectations about my ability to pass
b) Completely confident
c) Moderately confident
d) Slightly confident
e) Not confident at all
This allows discussion of overconfidence, as well as reassurance for students lacking in confidence (‘If you are worried, you are not alone’). Various resources for support including U:PASS are covered. UTS:Careers also presents to students - an ideal fit, as accounting is seen by students as leading to a career rather than studied for fun. This section ends with “any “ on Zeetings.
Students are introduced to the company (Woolworths) that is the anchor of the first half of the subject – they are asked to call out the other businesses Woolworths owns apart from supermarkets and then speculate how much some of the major divisions (businesses) collect (sell) to customers (revenue). What do you think the company’s biggest costs are? (This encourages an ‘open cry’ in the lecture).
Finally, students are encouraged to work with the person beside them to solve a complex problem, beginning the process of thinking like an accountant and working collaboratively.