Learn Financial Accounting
Many educators and students feel the best way to learn, still, is face-to-face instruction in small group settings, assuming that time is available and the instructor is motivated and inspired. But what if in-person access is not easy, the class setting is not personal, or the instruction is mediocre? A great instructor from a distance who is available for live chats or video conferences might actually be the superior option.
Blended Learning: Stimulating Every Learning Style
Even with face-to-face instruction, technology now allows us to develop new ways to appeal to different learning styles.
At my university, for example, Principles of Financial Accounting is the first required course for business majors. To invigorate student engagement in a course dreaded by many, I adopted a blended learning approach known as a “flipped classroom.”
Students are required to watch short lecture videos before the first class meeting each week. In the second meeting, students are broken into four groups of 30, with each sub-group broken down into groups of three. The breakout sections are led by four mentors, who are outstanding senior accounting majors. Students do their “homework” during class time in their breakout groups. Hence, what formerly was homework becomes classwork; what was classwork now becomes homework.
Performance Measurement Challenges
One of the biggest challenges we face is changing the way we determine whether a student or professional has learned a topic or skill. Learning should be based on demonstration of competency, not seat time or merely memorizing facts and formulas.
In one course I teach, students can weight their grade according to their strengths and weaknesses (for example, more weight on projects; less weight on exams; more weight on personal journal, less weight on quizzes; more weight on video mastery, less weight on something else). Who can say that the student who performs poorly on tests, yet is able to clearly explain the materials in their journal entries or during oral presentations, doesn’t understand the material? Grasping concept is more important than the format in which they demonstrate their competency.
I believe the main goal of the first financial accounting course should be to help students appreciate the role of accounting in a larger societal context, and to help them become “literate” in business. Literacy includes demonstrating that they can create a cash budget, perform basic Excel spreadsheet tasks, and read financial statements for service, retail and manufacturing entities.