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CHALLENGING ONE RIGHT ANSWER SYNDROME Christopher Coles Accounting & Finance.

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Presentation on theme: "CHALLENGING ONE RIGHT ANSWER SYNDROME Christopher Coles Accounting & Finance."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHALLENGING ONE RIGHT ANSWER SYNDROME Christopher Coles Accounting & Finance

2 What is it? Opinions differ – but most widespread interpretation is of student reluctance to answer questions for fear of getting it wrong. Result - attainment short of capability. Problem disciplines? Problem communities? Ever present problem?

3 Background Not a new issue. Seems to be widespread – many reports in various subjects. No respecter of culture (Mee 2002), or discipline, or assessment mode. Examples reported from maths (Giolamis et al 2000, Ralston 2004), biology (King 2007), English, science, and accounting.

4 Concerns Consequences can be devastating – short term and long term. Reasons for existence? Wont be drawn in to this – a lot of literature draws on works by Ramsden/Entwhistle/Gibbs. Personal situation – aware of its potential for damage 2010/11 owing to massive expansion in PGT cohort. >300 PGT 2010/11; forecast to rise > /12.

5 Accounting - some evidence from the literature Spencer (2003) – oft-repeated mantra that some students will treat accounting as a set of rules to be applied, and reference to more than one right answer causes discomfort. Williams (1993) – One right answer is bad preparation for professional practice. Heard about it in SSLC meetings.

6 Impact Perhaps as a result of long-standing changes (eg Kelly et al 1999), we dont see so much of it at undergraduate, but its still a worldwide problem (Lee & Bisman 2006.) Reluctance to show workings. Blank/crossed-out pages, resulting in lost time. What do you do? Do you encourage guessing? Do we insist on one right answer for MCQs?

7 Action Didnt assume too much. Use of notices on Moodle. Frequent reference; exhortation to avoid it. Marking exercises. Peer assessment and self assessment. Encourage people to take risks – failure without penalty. Redesign of assessment.

8 Action This was done in Semester 1. Repeated it Semester 2 – why didnt indigenous students leave blank pages, or cross out their work? Yet I think its as much a problem with indigenous students as with international students. We continually exhort students to avoid plagiarism, and to read the question.

9 Results. No blatant examples of crossing-through – for the first time. Far more attempts at parts of all the questions. Workings shown in far more instances. Have not attempted any quantitative analysis – various reasons; mainly, too much noise, and insufficient observations for meaningful statistical analysis.

10 Some final thoughts We expect professional people to have a knowledge base – nothing wrong with that. Professional exams? Use of textbooks – no rubbings-out or crossings-out. Place for fuzziness? Real-life practice – rarely any clear-cut solutions. Creativity? Observations/thoughts/questions?

11 References Giolamas S, Keller S, Cherif A Hansen A (2000) Using guided enquiry in teaching mathematical concepts Illinois Teacher Fall. Kelly M, Davey H and Haigh N (1999) 'Contemporary accounting education and society', Accounting Education, 8 (4) pp King J (2007) The high stakes in science education Education Week, 7 May Lee C & Bisman J (2006) Curricula in introductory accounting: The old and the new. In Proceedings Accounting & Finance Association of Australia & New Zealand Annual Conference, Wellington. Accessed from: (accessed 10/3/11).

12 References Mee, CY (2002) English Language Teaching in Singapore, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 22 (2), pp Ralston A (2004) Research Mathematicians and Mathematics Education: A Critique Notices of the American Mathematical Society, April, pp Spencer K (2003) Approaches to Learning and Contemporary Accounting Education Conference paper, Education in a Changing Environment, available from tf. tf Williams, DZ (1993) Reforming accounting education. Journal of Accountancy 176 (2)

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