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Arizona Board of Regents: Learner-Centered Education Course Redesign Initiative

Arizona State University

Course Title: Uses of Accounting Information I
Contact: Glenda Levendowski

Status: This project originated as part of the Arizona Board of Regents Learner-Centered Education Course Redesign Initiative, 2006 – 2009. Due to a variety of factors, this project was not completed. The project plan serves as a good example of how to think about redesigning a large-enrollment course.

Project Abstract

Arizona State University (ASU) plans to redesign Uses of Accounting Information I, the introductory financial accounting course that is mandatory for all business majors. The course enrolls ~1800 students annually in 56 sections. During the fall, students attend one large enrollment (~300 students) lecture and two smaller (~34 students) recitation sections of fifty minutes each per week. Two senior instructors teach the large enrollment sections, and the recitations are facilitated by 15 graduate teaching assistants (GTAs). There are also four evening sections taught by two adjunct faculty members.

The traditional course is faced with several academic problems. Over the past two academic years, the effective withdrawal rate has approached 30%, and 23% of the students did not receive a passing grade. Furthermore, more than 6% of the students retake the course, which equates to three sections per year. Students do not receive timely, detailed feedback, and individual learning styles are not accommodated. Finally, the course does not cover all the necessary concepts and principles needed to successfully complete upper-level courses. This gap is filled with a separate one-credit course on the mechanics of debits and credits, further straining the departmental resources.

ASU plans to use the Replacement Model in its redesign. The number of in-class lectures will decrease by half and will be replaced with online activities. The remaining lecture time will be altered to involve students in hands-on practice and problem-solving. The redesign will also reduce the number of recitation sessions from two 50-minute meetings to one 75-minute meeting per week. The mandatory recitations will promote active learning and teamwork. The redesign will establish an open lab/tutoring hybrid (face-to-face and online) environment, staffed by graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), where students will receive personalized assistance. Technology will be deployed to deliver homework, frequent low-stakes quizzes and more complex tests. Grading, peer/group feedback and tutor scheduling will be automated. Students will engage in interactive tutorials, receiving timely, explanatory feedback on their performance. The course curriculum will also be augmented to cover topics taught in the one-credit debits and credits course.

The redesign will enhance course quality through a combination of technology, computer-generated individual lesson plans based on knowledge level and collaborative learning. Active learning will be increased substantially through student interaction with their peers and the online instructional materials, giving students improved opportunities for hands-on practice and application of learned concepts with immediate feedback. Open lab/tutoring will enhance and support student understanding, allowing an increase in classroom time for accounting procedures and concepts. Classroom experience will be enriched through interactive practice activities.

Student learning will be assessed by comparing performance on common final examination questions collected from both the traditional and the redesigned sections. Attrition rates and grade distribution will also be compared. Student performance on quizzes, tests, and homework will be tracked during this project. Diagnostic pre- and post-tests will measure learning gain for core domains. Student attitudes towards the course as well as self-efficacy ratings will be collected. Focus groups evaluating student introductory accounting knowledge will be conducted with instructors teaching upper-level accounting courses.

The redesigned course will reduce instructional costs by eliminating the one-credit course, reducing the number of sections from 56 to 47, increasing the section size from ~ 31 to ~37 and better utilizing instructional time with the introduction of technology. The number of teaching personnel in the fall semester will be reduced, eliminating one of two full-time faculty and two adjuncts. The redesign will reduce the cost-per-student by 33%, saving ASU $108,000 annually. The savings will remain in the department and will be used to create other courses such as taxation and to develop a new orientation course for incoming business students to teach them successful academic and teamwork skills.




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