Research Paper: Teaching Reflective Commentary Portfolio

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Teaching Reflective Commentary Portfolio

Mathematics is an area of education not often sought after by those teachers interested in true education. The subjects typically seem dry and students rarely take the courses seriously. In the field of accounting, however, there has been a much larger deficiency in properly educating students. As stated by Rob Gray (2006), in his article,

There is evidence that accounting education fails to develop students' intellectual and, relatedly, ethical maturity. This, it can be argued, may be seen as a moral failure on the part of accounting educators. This, it can be argued, may be seen as a moral failure on the part of accounting educators. The content of much of what currently passes for core accounting knowledge has characteristics which can be associated with both superficial learning strategies and ethically immature moral positions. Thus, it may be that 'current accounting knowledge' implicitly reinforces accounting education.

It is this premise that leads me to believe that there are methods that can be used to aid in both student learning and enjoyment. Through understanding the material and realizing the possibilities, a teacher can help his students look beyond the simple fact that they are in a statistics or accounting course and instead see the big picture of what their education will accomplish once they enter the real world. It is this premise that leads me to propose a different way to teaching these college courses that appeals to all learning styles while still teaching the essential knowledge.

Teaching Techniques and Student Memory Retention

As a student enters the accounting field and begins their education through a university, they are introduced to many new mathematical concepts and may feel overwhelmed from the start. There are many first year instructors who prefer simply lecturing as their form of educating students and expect the students to retain or remember the information for an exam. The problem with this approach is that it only scratches the surface of education and will not benefit the student after they complete their education and must apply what they've learned in the real world. In fact, according to Bloom's taxonomy, simply remembering and even understanding certain complex topics is merely the tip of the iceberg within the educational system.

Categories in the cognitive domain of Bloom's Taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001)

It is this lack of real application and an abundance of knowledge of theoretical concepts that is resulting in many accountants not being able to function once they leave the university. Igor Batista (2005) argues:

It is evident that we need to rethink business education, updating all the means to current needs. This model bears not only the components of a qualification system to accountants- including techniques, skills and desirable values required for the graduation, but allows the contents that should be considered as a guide in order to prepare and organize a program in tune with the global needs within the field. (22)

In order to move a student to success in the field of accounting, that student must be able to properly analyze the information given in school so that it can be used in the real world where word problems are no longer created to correlate to specific issues and it is clients who are looking to that student for help and advice. According to Bloom's taxonomy, this higher point of comprehension is achieved when a student can "Examine and break apart information into parts by identifying causes. The student can also make inferences and find evidence that supports generalizations." (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2000).

Moving an accounting student to this higher level of thinking is the most advantageous goal that a professor can strive for. In fact, studies have shown that those students capable of critical thinking receive much greater acceptance in their field after graduation. According to a study conducted by Robert Rademacher (1999), the more students were able to critically analyze information from various schools, the higher their acceptance rate of papers for publication.

The issue now turns to whether it is possible to take a student to this level of comprehension within the framework of accounting education. The answer is simply, yes. This is entirely possible when using the proper techniques within the classroom. While formal lecture has its place, it cannot be the only technique used. Rather, an integrated approach must be taken within the classroom setting in order to encourage students to move to that final level of comprehension and improvement. This paper will discuss the essential components which move an accounting student beyond simply remembering information by discussing, cooperative learning techniques, proper study habits, micro teaching strategies and examples, and strategies to guide every learning style through the material.

Moving Beyond Remembering

Rote memorization has its place within the education setting. It would be impossible for a student to master calculus if he did not memorize the basic rules of derivatives and integrals. However, once the concepts are memorized, a student must be able to do more than simply recite the rules. Instead, a student must learn how to look at the rules from different angles and apply those rules to various circumstances. This is the level of comprehension known as critical thinking (Duron, 2006). While most consider critical thinking to fall within the realm of the language arts, it is also an important aspect of accounting. According to authors Duron, Limbach, and Waugh, there is a five-step framework for implementing critical thinking within the field of accounting.

The first step to creating a critical-thinking-based lesson is to determine the learning objectives. The objective should never be vague or unclear, but rather focused on the particular behaviors or actions desired of the students (Duron, 2006). For instance, in a lesson on forecasting, the desired objective would be for students to identify all necessary components to form an accurate forecasting report and explain why each factor is necessary as well as those that are not. This goal may sound simple, but mastery of the skill can be difficult and elusive to most students. So, this goal must be kept consistent throughout the lesson. One important factor for keeping this goal consistent is to ensure proper primary and secondary sources of information for the students to review and utilize (Nentl, 2008). Given that each forecasting scenario is different, a student must have enough resources and knowledge to understand that thinking outside of the box is required. The objective must hit on each level of the Bloom's taxonomy via questions addressed to students. According to Duron, examples include:

Knowledge level requires an answer that demonstrates simple recall of facts. Questions at this level could ask students to answer who and what and to describe, state, and list. Comprehension requires an answer that demonstrates an understanding of the information. Questions at this level might ask students to summarize, explain, paraphrase, compare, and contrast. Application requires an answer that demonstrates an ability to use information, concepts and theories in new situations. Questions at this level may ask students to apply, construct, solve, discover, and show. Analysis requires an answer that demonstrates an ability to see patterns and classify information, concepts, and theories into component parts. Questions at this level could ask students to examine, classify, categorize, differentiate, and analyze. Synthesis requires an answer that demonstrates an ability to relate knowledge from several areas to create new or original work. Questions at this level might ask students to combine, construct, create, role-play, and suppose. Finally, Evaluation requires an answer that demonstrates ability to judge evidence based on reasoned argument. Questions at this level may ask students to assess, criticize, recommend, predict, and evaluate. (162)

So, the objectives should have enough flexibility and contour to ensure all forms of questions are asked and presented for the students to practice.

The next step, according to Duron is to "Teach through questioning." This method, also known as the Socratic method has been utilized by teachers since the time of the ancient Greeks to foster critical thinking (Smith, 1987). In the field of accounting ethics, this method has taken on a new form known as the "Case Method" in which students are asked to role play or evaluate basic cases or problems and determine what should be done in each case (Shugan, 2006). This method can also be applied to statistics. For instance, in the above forecasting model, instead of simply working out an example problem and moving on, a teacher desiring critical thinking skills will change the variables within the problem and force the students to come at the problem from new angles. This probing does not end until the student is adequately able to see past the simple rules and procedures and apply the principles. According to Duron, there are different forms of questions that can be brought into the analytical process:

Questioning techniques can be used to foster the thinking ability of students. Questions can be categorized in a number of different ways. One simple method is to use the general categories… [END OF PREVIEW]

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