Learning and Teaching Investment Fund 2011

Summary of projects

Project title

Implementing and evaluating a group based industry assessment model to enhance professional industry standards for Melbourne and offshore students.

Project leaders

Dr Mahesh Joshi

Project team

  • Dr Paul Myer
  • Mr Cameron Nichol

Project summary

This LTIF project proposed to enhance the accounting program’s relevance to professional industry standards, and student’s capabilities to research, explain and analyse these standards in order to strengthen their workplace readiness. Additionally, it sought to investigate the transferability of the professional standards based learning model across international delivery locations in Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam. As such, it strategically aligned with RMIT University objectives to be:

  • Global in reach and impact
  • Work-relevant and industry-partnered

The project concept originated from innovative industry practice based assessments trialled and implemented in the course ACCT 1110 in 2008. Introduction of these assessments responded to work-relevant learning priorities in the context of a dynamic professional accounting environment, especially the need for practising accountants across all industry sectors to keep informed about ongoing development of global standards frameworks. Global professional accounting standards are developed by the International Association of Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and adopted by the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB).

The project has been successfully implemented against the background of the Australian Government’s agenda outlined in Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System, announced in May 2009 (DEEWR, 2009), which has been addressed by incorporating TEQSA requirements into curriculum design and assessment criteria for the accounting discipline degree programs at institutional level. Accounting has been the first discipline to develop threshold learning outcomes and the learning and assessment activities designed and piloted through this LTIF project aligned to these broader strategic requirements.

Students in Corporate Accounting ACCT 1048 (Melbourne), ACCT 1054 (Singapore) and ACCT 2159 (Vietnam) undertook small group assignments using the annual report of one Australian company among a choice of 15 companies. The assignment questions were framed in a way to assess their ability to research and understand the application of standards reported by companies; to interpret how and why the standards were applied; and the implications of the methods to evaluate compliance with standards chosen by different companies. A significant majority of the students surveyed at the end of the pilot indicated that they had positively engaged with the industry based assessment and group learning activities; that they had made a stronger connection between theoretical and applied knowledge as it relates to accounting standards; and that they improved their work-relevant skills such as critical analysis, argument construction, team work and effective writing and presentation skills.

Outcomes

  • A core unit in the Bachelor of Business (Accounting) program has increased the relevance of the program to industry professional standards through an industry based assessment. This activity and assessment will now continue to feature in the program and to be refined based on feedback received from students as part of this LTIF pilot. (refer 3.1)
  • A significant majority of students enrolled in the course across Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam agreed that their knowledge of accounting standards had been significantly enhanced by the industry based assessment. (refer 3.2)
  • Most students noted that they have improved their work-relevant skills such as critical analysis, argument constructive, team work and effective writing and presentation as a result of the undertaking the group industry based assessment. (refer 3.3)
  • There was a close correlation of student responses across all survey questions for Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam. This indicates the transferability of the industry based assessment in an international context. Some students in Singapore and Vietnam noted however that they would like to see a sample of 14 company options in the assessment to also include some Asian and international rather than just Australian companies. (refer 3.4)
  • A draft plan for embedding, and potentially extending to other courses, the industry based assessment in the program is in development and will be presented at a School of Accounting, Learning and Teaching Committee meeting for action. (refer 3.5)
  • A peer-reviewed paper: "Teaching IFRS through case Study Method in an International University: An evaluation" will be submitted to Issues in Accounting Education journal. (refer 3.6)

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