اکتشاف روش های یادگیری حسابداران حرفه ای آینده نگر در ایرلند
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|20095||2008||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting Forum, Volume 32, Issue 3, September 2008, Pages 225–239
In light of the ongoing accounting education change debate, it is surprising that few prior studies have explored student learning issues within professional accounting education. This paper investigates the learning approaches of students preparing for the qualifying examination of a professional accountancy body in Ireland. The findings reveal that strategic learning approaches dominated, as students engaged in learning activities which they considered were most likely to lead to examination success. Variations between the learning approaches based on gender are also considered and the approaches of students who were ultimately successful at the examination were compared to those who failed.
For the past 30 years, there has been much debate about the nature and form of pre-qualification education required to prepare prospective professional accountants for challenging and dynamic professional careers. Many review reports issued worldwide by professional accountancy bodies and employers have delineated the desired learning objectives of pre-qualification programmes (Solomons & Berridge, 1974; American Accounting Association (AAA), 1986; Arthur Andersen & Co., Arthur Young, Coopers, Lybrand, Deloitte Haskins & Sells, Ernst & Whinney, Peat Marwick Mitchell, Price Waterhouse, & Touche Ross, 1989; Albrecht & Sack, 2000; International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), 2003). Accounting academics have also long questioned many aspects of traditional accounting education (e.g., Zeff, 1979; Mathews, 1990; Power, 1991; Sundem & Williams, 1992; Tinker & Koutsoumandi, 1997)1. Consequently, it is now recognised that pre-qualification programmes, whether in the higher education system or operated by/for professional accountancy bodies themselves, must move away from their traditional focus of imparting large volumes of technical knowledge and, instead, must foster among students a personally developed understanding of the principles and concepts which underpin accounting and business practices. In addition, programmes need to develop a diverse range of skills (e.g., Meagher, 2001; Hassall, Joyce, Arquero-Montano, & Donoso-Anes, 2001) so that students will ultimately be competent professionals throughout their careers and will have the capacity to adapt to change in every aspect of their professional lives (Accounting Education Change Commission (AECC), 1990; IFAC, 2003). Accounting education within higher education has, to a certain extent, adopted the change agenda and many accounting programmes have undergone significant reorientation and development in recent years. Furthermore, there is a growing body of research pertaining to accounting education in the higher education setting which informs the change process. In particular, such research has highlighted the importance of understanding the process of students’ learning, if programmes are contemplating changes in content, delivery or assessment with the intention of fostering high quality learning outcomes (Lucas, 1996; Beattie, Collins, & Mc Innes, 1997; Sharma, 1997). Despite the increasing research activity relating to accounting education within the higher education sector, there is relatively little research conducted regarding accounting education offered by the profession itself. Indeed, more widely, “there has been comparatively little written about professional education as a field of study distinct from higher education” (Taylor, 1997, p. 3). This is surprising, as the specialised education of members is a key trait of professions, as it distinguishes them from other occupations and develops the necessary knowledge2, skills and values required by members to discharge their professional responsibilities competently (Greenwood, 1957, Wilensky, 1964, Jarvis, 1983 and Perks, 1993). Professional education is a term used to capture both pre-qualification and continuing education of members of a profession, but this paper focuses exclusively on the former. While the pre-qualification professional education of members of some professions (e.g., medicine, nursing, etc.) may be fully discharged by higher education institutions (with periods of professional practice built into programmes), many professions have a dual system of pre-qualification education (Eraut, 1992). In Ireland, the United Kingdom (UK) and many other countries internationally, the accounting profession operates such a dual pre-qualification education system, whereby the prospective member typically completes a degree within the higher education system and then progresses to further study and training under the auspices of the relevant professional body (Mathews, 1990; Byrne & Flood, 2003). Many prospective members of the accounting profession in Ireland and the UK spend as long in pre-qualification professional education and training as they did in higher education. It should also be noted that for those who complete degrees in other disciplines, pre-qualification professional accounting programmes provide all of their education with regarding to accounting principles and practices. The absence of research concerning professional accounting education means that formative experiences of prospective professional accountants within pre-qualification professional education have not been explored as one might expect given the complex and challenging learning objectives identified. Furthermore, it indicates that the changes (syllabi and assessment methods, etc.) which have been implemented by professional accountancy bodies, have not been illuminated by any insights into contextual student learning issues. Given the research evidence from other learning environments regarding the influences of students’ learning approaches on learning outcomes and the influence of the specific learning context (in terms of curriculum, teaching and assessment) on learning approaches,3 the consideration of similar or related issues in the professional accounting context appears to be a major oversight if the profession is serious about achieving the espoused high quality objectives of pre-qualification education. As there is a growing body of research concerning learning experiences in the higher education domain, including many studies involving accounting students, one could question whether professional accounting education offers a distinctive student body or learning environment to merit separate examination. In other words, is there sufficient expectation that there might be variation between students’ learning of accounting in higher education and pre-qualification professional education? The authors contend that there are a number of factors which provide a compelling case to explore the learning of professional accounting students as a population distinct from accounting students in higher education. Firstly, professional education differs from higher education due to the dynamic relationship with the professions (Taylor, 1997). Secondly, there are differences in the learning environments (e.g., syllabus, teaching approaches, forms of assessment) of higher education and pre-qualification professional accounting education, which are likely to impact on students’ learning in those contexts (Marton & Booth, 1997). Thirdly, the general education literature acknowledges that personal factors influence learning (Biggs, 1999) and it is reasonable to anticipate that there may be variation in such factors (e.g., prior educational experience, life and work experience) between students in higher education and those in professional education. Thus, the variation in the characteristics of pre-qualification professional accounting education compared to higher education outlined above provide some justification to investigate students’ learning in this context. This paper specifically examines the learning approaches of prospective professional accountants when preparing for the qualifying examination of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI). More specifically, the study measures students’ learning approaches using the Approaches and Studies Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST), following the adaptation and validation of the instrument for use in the context of professional accounting education. The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. The next section explores the literature on learning approaches, considers some applications of this literature in the discipline of accounting and supports the generation of the research objectives of the current study. The following section outlines issues pertaining to the data collection for this study. The results are then presented and discussed and the paper concludes by considering the implications of the findings for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper has explored the learning approaches of students within pre-qualification professional accounting education by using the student learning framework from the higher education arena. It emerged that, for the full sample, a strategic approach was preferred over either a deep or surface approach. Examining the subscale scores within the strategic scale, it was evident that ‘alertness to assessment demands’ and ‘monitoring effectiveness’, were very strong factors for the students in this study, as they are very focused on the examination and they want to achieve the success of qualifying as professional accountants. While it is disappointing that a deep approach is not the favoured approach, it is clear from the high scores on some of the deep subscales, such as ‘seeking meaning’ and ‘use of evidence’ that FAE students engage in many deep learning activities. However, they do not score highly on the deep motivation scale of ‘interest in ideas’, reflecting that students’ learning activities for FAE are driven by their desire to pass the examination rather than intrinsic interest in their studies. For the full sample, the overall mean score on the surface scale is dominated by the students’ perceptions of ‘syllabus boundness’ and ‘fear of failure’. The dominance of these issues is not that surprising, as the examination syllabus is extensive and few would be inclined to go beyond its boundaries. Additionally, the students typically feel pressure in preparing for the qualifying examination as they perceive the implications of success or failure to be significant. Furthermore, all of these students have been engaged in the study of accounting for many years and they do not want to falter at the final hurdle. The analysis of the learning approaches by gender groups indicated that both groups favour the strategic approach. One noteworthy difference between the groups is the significantly higher score on the surface scale (p < 0.01) of the female students compared to their male peers, with ‘fear of failure’ dominating their responses. When the learning approach scores of the students who ultimately passed FAE and those who failed were compared, no statistically different results emerged. The limitations of this study must be acknowledged. Firstly, the participants in the study were all students within a single professional accountancy body in Ireland, who were preparing for one sitting of a qualifying examination. There would be considerable merit in extending this research both over time within the setting studied and to learning contexts of other professional accountancy bodies. A further limitation concerns the research method, which used a quantitative measure of learning approaches and the dichotomous classification of pass/fail to capture examination success. Gathering rich descriptions of students’ experiences of learning for the FAE and their perceptions of the learning outcomes using qualitative methods, would be immensely valuable. There is also considerable scope for future research to explore further the factors which influence learning within pre-qualification professional accounting education and to examine the linkages between qualification-focused learning and learning in the workplace. In summary, the contributions of this study are varied. Firstly, by exploring students’ learning in the professional accounting context, it researches a topic which has long been neglected by both accounting and educational researchers. Thus, its findings enrich both the accounting education and professional education literatures. Secondly, the paper provides a foundation for the development of a holistic research agenda in this domain. Finally, the findings of this study provide meaningful, understandable empirical evidence which can be utilised by ICAI as it plans to reform the FAE. The findings may also have resonance with other professional accountancy bodies in Ireland and elsewhere which share many characteristics with ICAI. Ultimately, this research has the potential to make a contribution to the development of professional accounting education in Ireland.