Teaching practices in management accounting and finance.
Wood, Nicholas Anthony.
MetadataShow full item record
Attempts over many years internationally to reform higher education teaching and learning in the discipline of accounting, by broadening curricula and adopting learner-centred pedagogies to more effectively equip graduates with the requisite professional skills and attributes, have proved elusive, owing to a number of interrelated barriers at faculty, institutional, student and professional levels (O’Connell, 2015; The Pathways Commission, 2012). More recently, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) (2010), the professional accounting association that accredits South Africa’s higher education institutions’ accounting programmes, introduced a competency-based framework with similar objectives to those specified above. Although accounting education literature offers general insights into the nature and influencing factors of teacher- and learner-centred practices in lecturing and tutoring contexts, the depth of understanding is limited, owing, it appears, to the paucity of rich qualitative case study research on pedagogy in accounting courses. To address this gap, and against the background of attempts to reform accounting education, an in-depth qualitative case study was conducted, exploring managerial accounting and finance lecturing and tutoring practices in a postgraduate module at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The study’s use of multiple data sources, including module materials, direct observations supplemented by video recordings, and conventional and video-stimulated reflection (VSR) interviews, yielded rich insights into the phenomena. Convenience sampling was used to select the two educator participants in the study, one on the Westville campus and the other the Pietermaritzburg campus. The data was analysed using a content and thematic analysis approach. Confirming the literature, teacher-centred practices dominated lectures while tutorials were more learner-centred, but in each context the participants experienced constraints in their attempts to initiate higher levels of student engagement. These barriers, together with enablers that emerged from the study, were uniquely modelled in the context of Shulman’s (1986) knowledge bases to demonstrate their influence on teaching practices. By differentiating barriers into explicit or implicit categories, and enablers according to pedagogical or content knowledge, the model highlights, as in this study, the imperative of addressing educators’ restricted pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge to vi enable them to negotiate teaching tensions experienced as they seek to adopt more learner-centred practices. In this way the model extends theory by providing fresh insights into the challenge of overcoming obstacles to adopting learner-centred pedagogies. While the most significant explicit and implicit barriers in this study were SAICA’s accreditation requirements and the participants’ restricted pedagogical knowledge, the strongest enabling factors were critical reflection and continuing professional development (CPD). A further unique contribution of the study to accounting education literature was its highlighting of the value, and the novel revelation in this higher education context, of VSR processes as a means of prompting educators’ critical reflection on their practices. In this instance, it marked the commencement of constructive discussion and engagement on advancing teaching and learning practices, thus laying the foundation for pointed, situation-specific CPD.