by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Inside Teaching : April 2011
inside teaching | April 2011 CURRICULUM & ASSESSMENT 42 Practise, practise, practise – or get your hands dirty Two mistakes that a lot of university, TAFE and school educators frequently make are covering the basic concepts too quickly, and not providing enough opportunity for students to practise for themselves what the instructor has demonstrated on the whiteboard or PowerPoint. During the first lesson, I explain to my students that accounting is a lot like bricklaying. To learn to be a bricklayer, you need to get involved in the action and get your hands dirty. You can’t learn the trade simply by watching someone else. You need to pick up the tools and have a go. I explain that it’s okay to make mistakes. We write in pencil, not pen, because we are learners and we’re sure to make some mistakes. Yes, down the track, we’ll use pen, like all good accountants, and carefully rule out our errors to keep the auditors happy, but in the meantime, pencils and erasers will be very helpful – as is the ‘edit’ function on our computer accounting package. Every topic that we discuss in class is reinforced with additional similar work in the tutorials, or in home practice tasks, which are designed to assist the students to understand the concepts for themselves. It’s often only by ‘having a go’ at similar questions, on their own, with a chance for later feedback from the teacher, that students can uncover what queries or concerns they are having. To reinforce the importance of getting your hands dirty and tackling the core concepts, the students are set weekly practical questions. As an incentive to complete these questions and as a motivation strategy for maximising effort, these weekly tasks are graded and comprise a total of 30 per cent of the unit’s overall grade. I figure if I want the students to put in a decent effort, the least I can do is offer a decent reward for their hard work. By marking these tasks weekly and then providing timely feedback, any gaps in learning can be uncovered relatively early and can be addressed, either in a group tutorial or with individual students as required. Like many other curriculum areas, learning and teaching accounting is like building a pyramid. The foundations at the base are vital. All of the subsequent learning is built on this foundation. If the teacher is patient in the first few weeks and serially recapitulates the basics in detail, with a demonstrated enthusiasm for the subject matter and an obvious interest in the students’ learning, then the likelihood of students understanding the more complex topics that come later will be much higher. There’s nothing wrong with smiley stickers or the occasional lolly – or accounting can actually be enjoyable It’s exciting to see the look of satisfaction on a student’s face when their first balance sheet does in fact balance, or to notice the sense of achievement when a bank reconciliation actually reconciles. Maria, a first-year student, exclaimed ‘Accounting is fun,’ when she saw the pieces fall into place as the profit figure linked into her balance sheet and the ‘accounting equation’ suddenly made sense to her. An occasional lolly, thrown across the room in response to a correct answer is a wonderful motivator. (Okay, settle down all you lawyers and workplace health and safety officers, it was very safely lobbed!) Even my 50-year-old student beamed warmly when her homework was returned with a smiley sticker. Why can’t we have a bit of fun? To reinforce the process of recording transactions into the various general ledger accounts, we play a slightly modified game of Monopoly. Students have to open ledger accounts for various asset, income and expense accounts such as land and buildings, for their property acquisitions; service revenue for passing ‘Go’; rent revenue for the receipt of rent when someone lands on their property; cash at bank for recording commencing