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Archive for November, 2009

TWILAP, Two Weeks in the Life of an Accounting Professor.  Most people think I only work a few hours per week, just the time spent in the classroom.  They aren’t aware of all the behind the scenes activity.  In this series, I’ll journalize on what it’s like to be a professor.

7:40-8:15 a.m. E-mail. Francine McKenna at re: The Auditors has a provocative piece called, “Suing Audit Firms re: Madoff: The Iguana In The Room“.  As I understand her, she thinks that investor plaintiffs stand a better than normal chance of getting international umbrella organizations for the auditing firms to pony up.  I hope so, seems reasonable.  There is an increasing amount of coordination amongst the largest international firms.  This coordination expands the responsible legal entity to the umbrella organization, IMHO.

8:15-9:35 a.m. Grading.

9:35-9:40 a.m. E-mail.

10:00-10:25 a.m. In transit.

10:25-4:00 p.m. Classes and office hours.  It is the first day of class after a break.  In general, students are are tired.  So am I after staying up too late last night, grading.

I like teaching at Concordia because of the small classes.  This semester, my classes have 19, 25 and 8 students.  Here is a shot of Managerial accounting before we got underway.

I really like this classroom (my others are more traditional) because students must sit around tables.  Much of the education literature describe how students learn more if they are working together during class, instead of sitting listening to a professor.  It is so true.  I try to bring something to every Managerial Accounting class for the students to work on, in small groups.  Sometimes it happens that when clever students at one table figure out how to do something, they share with other tables.  The nicest thing is the furniture is organized much like that of a kindergarten classroom.

4:00-5:30 p.m. E-mail.

5:30-6:30 p.m. Grading.  Ugh!

10:20-11:59 p.m. Grading.  Ugh!

Over and out.

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TWILAP, Two Weeks in the Life of an Accounting Professor.  Most people think I only work a few hours per week, just the time spent in the classroom.  They aren’t aware of all the behind the scenes activity.  In this series, I’ll journalize on what it’s like to be a professor.

I’m rededicating myself to work today.  Must finish grading projects.  Must plan for tomorrow’s classes.  Nothing else matters.  Only 13.5 hours available, must make every minute count.

Comic published yesterday so perfectly describes how long I’m expected to work.  Thanksgiving isn’t on the list.  PhDComics.com is written for graduate students.  Professors, though, are expected to work as hard and as long as students.

9:55-10:40 a.m. TWILAP.  Established goals for week.

10:40-11:40 a.m. E-mail.  Nothing important enough to cite.

12:25-12:50 p.m.  In transit.

12:50-3:50 p.m. Class preparation for Intermediate Accounting.  During this block of time I have a lot to do.  I write my own homework (HW) problems, hoping that they are more realistic and general that the often picayune problems that accompany most accounting textbooks.  I had to repair solutions for my receivables HW.  I also had to get problems ready for the chapter on inventory methods.  I don’t collect HW from my classes for grading.  No professor should do this, because HW is intended for students to learn.  They shouldn’t be graded on learning attempts, because it is normal to expect imperfections during learning, and not everyone learns as quickly as others.  Instead, professors should wait until after students have learned the material and are ready to perform on tests.  In Intermediate Accounting, I send out solutions so that students can check their work.  Do students work on HW without getting credit?  My experience is that they do.  I wait until the end of the semester, and then require students to show me that they worked at least 80% of all assigned HW problems.

3:50-4:10 p.m. Class preparation for Managerial Accounting.

4:10-4:15 p.m. E-mail.

4:15-4:40 p.m. In transit back home.

5:40-11:59 p.m. Grading Intermediate Accounting projects.  Students are doing well, but grading is still drudgery for professors.

Total:  12 hours, 20 minutes.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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TWILAP, Two Weeks in the Life of an Accounting Professor.  Most people think I only work a few hours per week, just the time spent in the classroom.  They aren’t aware of all the behind the scenes activity.  In this series, I’ll journalize on what it’s like to be a professor.

I’m really kicking myself today.  What was I thinking when I yielded to temptation and didn’t work over the holiday weekend?

OK I’ll go through all the steps for developing  a time budget for the coming week.

I’m an accounting professor at a liberal arts college. I have three primary professional responsibilities.

  • Teaching.  I am expected to make classes special learning experiences.  The expectations at Concordia in this regard are much higher than at my previous schools.
  • Scholarly activity.  Refereed publications are the coins of the realm.  More than that, I am expected to develop a world view about my discipline.  The pressure is immense.   Due to accreditation considerations, I must get publications regularly or else become unemployable as an accounting professor.
  • Service.  Professors are a valuable resource to the community, not just the school at which they teach.  I spend a lot of time on giving back to the community of people who want to learn more about accounting.

There is so much to do.  I have some deadlines coming up in about five weeks.  By then, I want to have accomplished:

  1. Successfully completed my first semester at Concordia
  2. Started and completed a paper on holistic education, as applied to Intermediate Accounting
  3. Completed a paper on accountants as portrayed in the movies
  4. Submitted proposals to various meetings for conducting workshops and panel discussions.
  5. Re-established The Summa as a regular part of my professional life

Last week, was not a great week for getting things done.  My plans, and what I accomplished, were:

  1. Get caught up with grading for my classes.  Failed here, due to taking time off.  Need 10 hours today.
  2. Conduct meaningful classes.  Mission accomplished.  I’m happy with the classes that took place last week.
  3. Get started on the holistic education paper.  Nothing done.
  4. Comment on current events related to IFRS.  Mycomments to end the week before TWILAP seemed to have generated some attention.  I’ve thought about a response.
  5. Blog about TWILAP (and manage The Summa).  The Summa received 2,0o0 hits last week! 2,000 is an improvement over recent weeks, but I was unprepared for the huge drop off on the long holiday weekend.   TWILAP isn’t drawing the interested I had hoped.

In the coming week (TWILAP Week 2), I want to:

  1. Get caught up with grading for my classes (it’s now or never)
  2. Conduct meaningful classes (more important than ever)
  3. Get started on the holistic education paper (really more important than ever)
  4. Comment on current events related to IFRS (I need to write the definitive essay on the advantages of IFRS adoption in the USA.  I don’t believe in it, but must get it done so I can write a publishable paper looking at both sides of the issue.)
  5. Blog about TWILAP, as time permits, and manage The Summa.

How much time will I work this week?  Being a professor is time-intensive, and solitary.  Most people think of professors either lecturing or talking with people.  In reality, professors work in isolation as they read, think and write.  Here is my budgeted time schedule for this week:

  • Email:  14 hours (14 accum.).  I need 20 hours, but will cut back here.  I estimate that it takes about 3 hours per day.  Why so much?  This is how I keep up with current events.  I receive dozens of e-mail news alerts each day, pertaining to accounting, GAAP and IFRS.  In addition, I participate on AECM, the e-mail listserv for accounting professors.  Lately, we’ve had more than 20 posts per day.  I read every one, and respond when intrigued.  Usually, I am frequently ingrigued.  I have not time to be intriuged this week.
  • Teaching & office hours:   18 hours (32 accum.).  6 hours each day, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
  • Class preparation and grading:  22 hours (54 accum.).  In addition to 10-12 hours of grading, I need to get ready for each class.
  • Travel:  5 hours (59 accum.).  My daily commute is about 50 minutes.  50 minutes per day times 6 days.
  • Meetings:  0 hours.  I’m new to Concordia, so don’t have many meetings yet.  At Bowling Green, I was usually on about 12 committees or meetings in a typical semester.
  • Interviews:  5 hours (64 accum.).  Last week’s scheduled interview was rescheduled for this week.  2.5 hours of preparation, 1.5 hours for the interview.  Add one hour for a new interview op.
  • Blogging on holistic education:  8 hours ( 72 accum.).   It sounds like a lot for an activity that doesn’t count.  Professors only get credit for writing if it is in a refereed publication.  Blogging doesn’t count.  My blogging activity this week will eventually be compiled into a journal article.
  • Blogging on current events or whatever:  10 hours (82 accum.).  A lot has been happening on IFRS lately.  Also, I’m blogging about TWILAP.
  • Miscellaneous:  0 hours.

Ok, what does it add up to?  14+18+22+5+0+5+8+10+0 = 82 hours!

Ouch.  I will have trouble reaching 75.  Obviously, something’s going to have to go.  It will be be either sleep or scholarly activities, as it always is.  If I fail again it will make me feel more guilty than ever.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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TWILAP, Two Weeks in the Life of an Accounting Professor.  Most people think I only work a few hours per week, just the time spent in the classroom.  They aren’t aware of all the behind the scenes activity.  In this series, I’ll journalize on what it’s like to be a professor.

I took the day off today.  “Six days shalt thou labor, but the seventh …”

5:30-6:30 p.m. E-mail.  They are having a rousing discussion over on AECM.  It is about whether or not auditors let down the investing public by failing to raise flags about the financial health of banks and other financial institutions.  Of course they did.  If the legal system dispensed justice, we’d have four fewer Big 4 auditing firms after the glut of shareholder lawsuits.   But it doesn’t.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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TWILAP, Two Weeks in the Life of an Accounting Professor.  Most people think I only work a few hours per week, just the time spent in the classroom.  They aren’t aware of all the behind the scenes activity.  In this series, I’ll journalize on what it’s like to be a professor.

Today I am chained to work, with nose to the grindstone, buried under a huge pile of paper, paying for the sin of procrastination.

9:20-10:20 a.m. E-mail.  This is a really light day, but e-mail informs of some gems.  I like How Does a Falling Dollar Impact You? Over at AECM we’ve discussed, and discussed, and discussed,the disastrous ramifications of the Obama administration policies of printing money for stupid, nonsensical purposes.  SNL has a nice skit on the Chinese reaction (thanks Unknown Finance Professor for informing me of it).  Why should China care?  It bought U.S. bonds, then looked in on in horror as Obama burned the through the money.  It might be true that this will be called the Bush recession.  But at this point in his first term, Bush had already turned around the economy after inheriting the Clinton recession.

11:10-11:35 a.m. In transit to favorite coffee shop.

12:00-4:00 p.m. Grading.  Grading takes lots of energy.  Students in Managerial Accounting class will be happy to learn I finished grading their papers.  Students in Intermediate Accounting must be searching for a hanging tree.

Coffee shop denizen Justin, a math professor at MSUM, says that in this job of being a professor, “It is impossible to ever catch up.  There is always something else to do.”

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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TWILAP, Two Weeks in the Life of an Accounting Professor.  Most people think I only work a few hours per week, just the time spent in the classroom.  They aren’t aware of all the behind the scenes activity.  In this series, I’ll journalize on what it’s like to be a professor.

11:00a.m.-12:30 p.m. Miscellaneous reflections.  Today is the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA.   Time to take a few minutes and reflect on my life as a professor.

I am thankful for being a professor.  I was not always a professor.  At one time I was a bum whose life revolved alcohol.  Uneducated, unrefined, self-centered and in a death spiral, I was going nowhere.  God, in His love and mercy, intervened and put me on the road to a new life.  When removing self from the equation, being a professor is about serving others.  I’m teaching students how to use accounting once their professional lives begin.  They will live in the real world, not me.  That’s fine, life apart from the hallowed halls of academia is a scary thought.

This year, I’m grateful to be at a new school.  Life at the previous school had become untenable.

I’m grateful for being a professor.  Being a professor gives me time to think.  Thinking is a solitary exercise.  The phrase is, lost in one’s thoughts.  It isn’t, lost in two’s thoughts.  Professors spend only a few hours per week with or in front of others.  Since the advent of personal computers, I quite literally spend my life at a computer.  Metaphorically speaking, my laptop has now become my right arm.

It’s not a bad thing to live much of my professional life alone.  Accountants are stereotyped as dull and boring.  So are professors.  Being both accounting and professor, I’m doubly dull and boring.

Why do some professors work on holidays?  If being dull and boring isn’t enough reason, there are other possibilities.  Whether they like or dislike teaching (many are attracted to academe because of the solitary life of thinking, not the social aspect of helping students learn), teaching eats up time.  Lectures and learning activities must be prepared, papers and tests  graded, and distractions dealt with.  For the organizationally challenged like myself, a holiday is a block of uninterrupted (professors live a solitary life) time to catch up on teaching related responsibilities.  For example, I still have about 20 hours of grading to do before I’m caught up.  Then the assignment list for next week must be finalized.

More than that, a holiday presents the opportunity to put aside teaching activities and work on scholarly pursuits.  It has never been more true than it is in today’s world of AACSB accreditation, an accounting professor must perish or his/her professional life will quite literally perish.  Writing a paper requires long blocks of uninterrupted time.  As chocolate is to a chocoholic, scholarly activity is to a true professor.

12:30- 1:30 p.m. E-mail.  Although the in-box isn’t as full as on a normal day, it will haunt me if I don’t clear it out now.  Personal and professional e-mails combined, there are 95 e-mails now to go through (more will come throughout the day).  Four are from AECM the listserv for accounting professors.  This is way down from a normal dy.  This is disappointing, for today I have time to read and respond, but there is little about which to read and respond.  Most deal with news alerts.  A few are from my favorite merchants, advertising tomorrow’s sales.

Only tangentially related to accounting.  Obama campaign promosed to immediately get us out of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Now comes news that he expects us to be in Afghanistan until 2017, a year after the conclusion of his second term.  Also, Obama’s agenda runs into economic angst in Congress.  Hopefully difficulties will derail his plans to move the country to IFRS.

In Rules? Who Needs Rules?, I think Paul Vigna yearns for tougher American accounting standards that will reveal the true financial condition of the big banks.  There’s an interesting papers on the cost of quality and competition here.

5:40-6:00 p.m. E-mail.

10:00-10:20 p.m. Miscellaneous reflections.  As the day concludes, I see no real work was done today.  I just didn’t feel like it.  A wonderful thing about academia is the flexibility.  Perhaps I can turn tomorrow–Black Friday–into a good day of work.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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TWILAP, Two Weeks in the Life of an Accounting Professor.  Most people think I only work a few hours per week, just the time spent in the classroom.  They aren’t aware of all the behind the scenes activity.  In this series, I’ll journalize on what it’s like to be a professor.

Today is going to be a teaching and learning day.  Notice that so far this week, I haven’t done much on my co-primary responsibility, which is scholarly activity.  There just doesn’t ever seem to be time for that.   I’ll have to tend to that, as soon as possible.  I have two deadlines coming up.  Monday, December 1, for submitting a proposal for an online conference on teaching.  I’ve thought it out, will only take me 30 minutes to get it ready.  Monday, December 8, for submitting proposals for papers, workshops and panel discussions.  This will take some significant amounts of time.  I definitely need to write a paper on this one.  But, the paper is only just begun and no where near where it needs to be.

4:30-5:40 a.m. E-mail.

Sometimes the prof needs to lead and then pull students along.6:00-6:45 a.m. Teaching!  Today will be just like the picture to the right.  In both courses today, new topics (actually new areas), are on the schedule.

In Managerial accounting, up first at 10:30, we’re going to cover budgeting.  Accounting texts do a lousy job of budgeting because they (don’t even try to place students in situations where behaviora and social factors influence the budget preparation process.  It is pretty much taught as crunch a few numbers.  But budgeting is more than that.  It involves making decisions about expanding or contracting certain activities, promoting A or discharging B, and deciding between different strategies such as make or outsource.  No, textbooks just run students through a few number-crunching exercises and that’s it.

So, what am I to do? I refuse to go through some of the number crunching work as it has no value I can see, except it is a way of passing class time.  I will work on preparing cash budgets, as it does tie biz activities to having cash to pay for those activities.  That’s useful, right?  Well, the Managerial Accounting students have been given their reading assignment and I’ve written  two homework problems, actually the ideas are stolen from a better managerial accounting book.  I’ll pull the students right along today, higher and higher up the mountain.

(more…)

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