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One Size Didnt Fit: Why an Accounting Honors Program Works for Us Sharon Green and Brian Nagle Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA 15282.

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Presentation on theme: "One Size Didnt Fit: Why an Accounting Honors Program Works for Us Sharon Green and Brian Nagle Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA 15282."— Presentation transcript:

1 One Size Didnt Fit: Why an Accounting Honors Program Works for Us Sharon Green and Brian Nagle Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA 15282

2 Introduction Motivation Institutional, Departmental and External Factors Implementation Program Goals and Objectives Program Design Creative Process Issues and Resolutions Program Assessment Honors Program Graduates Current Students Faculty External Stakeholders Unresolved Issues – A Work-in-Process

3 Motivation Institutional Factors: Tuition-driven – pressure to keep the numbers up Escalating tuition rates Limited scholarships for highly qualified students University-level admission decisions School of Business Factors: Resources flow to largest departments Proliferation of non-traditional areas of study (now 13 at our institution) Rise in popularity of other areas of study High starting salaries and other perks (e.g., Information Technology and Supply Chain Management) Waning interest in Accounting as major in early 2000s

4 Motivation (continued) Departmental Factors: Faculty frustration Widening dispersion in student ability levels Subtle pressure to compromise rigor Student dissatisfaction Better students resented slow pace of classes – felt cheated Other students resented fast pace of classes – felt left out Employer issues Grade inflation made it difficult to assess student potential for success Looking for a better signal if grade point was not a differentiating factor

5 Resolution: Create an Accounting Honors Program Would allow us to recognize constraints imposed by University, School and external environment while: offering all of our students a learning environment better tailored to their ability levels; rewarding our best faculty by creating a richer teaching environment; providing a signal to the marketplace that would differentiate students in an environment filled with inflated grade point averages.

6 Implementation: Goals and Objectives of the Program Overriding Goal: Excellent students would be as successful in honors courses as they would have been in regular courses, but they would have had a more fulfilling educational experience. Ultimately, prioritized our objectives as follows: Classes would be more stimulating and challenging, not necessarily more time consuming or difficult; Program would offer honors students constant opportunities to participate in special assignments (e.g., essay assignments and/or projects) to more fully develop each students professional expertise; Small class sizes (20 to 25 students) to allow for more class discussion, personal attention and camaraderie.

7 Implementation: Program Design Curriculum content: Require all 8 courses comprising concentration in accounting in honors format? Include sophomore-level business core classes as well (both Financial and Managerial Accounting)? Require both of the above or selective subset? Implementation issues: Small accounting faculty (only 8 full-time faculty) No full-time tax faculty, but two required Tax courses Scheduling conflicts for students due to work commitments and double-majors

8 Implementation (continued) Resolution - Two Paths Path #1 (preferred): 7 classes in Honors format, including: 3 specific courses (Intermediate I, II and Cost Accounting) plus 4 of the remaining 7 required accounting courses; or Path #2: 8 classes in Honors format, including: 2 of the 3 specific courses designated above plus 6 of the remaining 7 required accounting courses

9 How do we acknowledge participation in the Accounting Honors Program? Couldnt create separate major designated Honors Accounting Resolution: Created new concentration designated Accounting – Honors Track Honors classes given unique course numbers (e.g., 311H for Intermediate I Honors class) Creative Process Issues and Resolutions (contd)

10 Who qualifies for honors classes? Resolution: Automatic admission with: 1100 SAT or ACT equivalent and 3.5 GPA at Duquesne or Member of Universitys Integrated Honors Program Special consideration with: Recommendation of certain faculty members Instructor discretion Creative Process Issues and Resolutions (contd)

11 Should the program be closed or consist of an open series of classes? Resolution: Open series of classes: Students part-time employment commitments Desire for flexibility Result of decision: Only students completing one of the Honors paths earns Accounting – Honors Track designation on transcript Transcripts of other students indicate individual Honors courses taken (e.g., 311H - Honors Intermediate Accounting or 411H – Honors Auditing) Creative Process Issues and Resolutions (contd)

12 How do we distinguish the Honors classes? Resolution: Honors faculty Unique classroom environment Signature assignments, including: Peachtree project Business simulation Professional journal reading series Current issues presentations Real-world practicum Creative Process Issues and Resolutions (contd)

13 How do we promote the program? Resolution: Potential students Various high school recruiting events Current students: University Integrated Honors Program Strategically selected business and accounting courses Faculty interaction with qualified students External stakeholders: Interactions with firm recruiters and alumni Accounting Advisory Board

14 Why should students pursue the Honors designation? Preferential treatment in interviews for internships/full-time positions Financial benefits in terms of scholarships and awards Internal External Enhanced satisfaction with educational experience

15 Program Assessment: Comments from Beneficiaries of the Accounting Honors Program Honors Graduates: What I liked most about the AHP was that it truly put me in a class with people whom I considered to be my peers. As a result, I was able to benefit from classmates who offered pertinent and thoughtful questions during class. I am thankful that Duquesne had this program in place. Megan Clapper Graduate, 2005 Accounting Honors Program Current Honors Students: I really enjoyed the Honors Financial Class this fall. The class was small, so I felt more comfortable in class. I got to know Professor Kollar and the other students, and I felt like I learned a lot more since things were done in more of a discussion style. Katie Piskuric Sophomore, Accounting Honors Program

16 Program Assessment: Comments from Beneficiaries of the Accounting Honors Program (continued) Faculty: "Honors classes really have the brightest students which leads to very good discussions. The classes are a joy to teach and also inspire me to research answers to their very challenging questions. The classes tend to become less of a student-professor relationship and more of business colleague relationship. Professor Valerie Williams, Accounting Honors Faculty Recruiters: The Accounting Honors Program at Duquesne University helps to produce students who are both intellectually and professionally polished. The graduates we see emerge from this program begin their careers here at PwC, ready and willing to handle the challenging work that Public Accounting offers. Laura Phillipsie Campus Recruiting Team, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

17 Unresolved issuesa work in process… Classes still perceived as harder – creates reluctance to enroll No grade compensation Students check out after securing job/internship Scheduling disruptions due to experiential educational programs Lack of pacesetters in non-honors classes

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