Crandall links teaching, accounting
By Ann Dumonceaux
Though teaching elementary school at a teachers college in west Africa seems a world away from graduate studies in accounting at the University of Saskatchewan, Dickie Crandall has found a way to integrate her two loves, education and accounting, into a research project for her Masters of Science degree in Accounting.
"My research project is very unusual for an accounting project," observes Crandall, "because Im combining education and accounting and looking at accounting education."
Her thesis, "Using Hypertext Technology to Promote Active Learning in Accounting Education: Empirical Evidence" examines the role of Internet technology in promoting learning among accounting students.
"In my experiment, I developed some accounting education modules with four different learning conditions," explains Crandall.
"The Control condition had no Hypertext, while the other conditions have varying degrees of linking.
For example, in the Inherited condition, I put in the Hypertext and the students had to click on it to connect to accounting cases. But in the Generate condition, students were asked to generate Hypertext links for themselves that link the cases and the concepts."
A fourth group, in the Feedback condition, received feedback after they self-generated Hypertext links.
Crandalls project required more than 100 students from an intermediate accounting class to participate in a computerized training session where they were instructed how to follow Hypertext links using non-accounting material.
Following that session, students entered a time-controlled learning stage during which they were presented with information about two accounting concepts.
Finally, in the testing stage, the students had their recall of the concept application evaluated, as well as their ability to apply the concepts to new case situations.
Though Crandall has yet to evaluate her data, she expects her results to be consistent with those of other researchers.
"The literature would seem to show that elaboration of any kind promotes learning, because its a more active learning. Therefore, I expect that the group that has to put in the link should have better learning than the inherited group."
Crandalls interest in accounting education stems from both her experiences as a teacher and her interest in numbers.
During her first career as an teacher, she taught elementary school in Canada before going overseas to instruct at Teachers College in a remote part of Nigeria, through the Mennonite Central Committee.
"I was teaching adults how to teach Grades 1 and 2, which was very challenging because there werent even books in some schools," remembers Crandall.
After working in Africa for two years, Crandall and her husband returned to Canada only to notice a substantial difference between Canadian and Nigerian schools.
"In Nigeria, the students show so much respect for teachers that I couldnt even carry my purse back from the staff room without someone offering to help."
Deciding that the change was too great, and that teaching elementary school "was not something that I wanted to do anymore," Crandall decided to go back to university and pursue a commerce degree.
Though she admits to some initial trepidation, Crandall found that she loved her classes, eventually graduating with great distinction.
After successfully leading a discussion in an advanced management course, Crandall was approached by a professor and asked to consider a career in teaching accounting.
Now teaching classes in introductory financial accounting and introductory accounting, Crandall hopes to continue working with accounting students in the future.
"I love teaching, and I love accounting, so it combines my two loves."
Ann Dumonceaux writes profiles of U of S graduate students as part of a fellowship with the College of Graduate Studies and Research.