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From the AICPA:

AICPA Honors Annette Nellen
with Arthur J. Dixon Memorial Award

Professor Annette Nellen, San Jose State University

Professor Annette Nellen, San Jose State University

Washington, D.C., Nov. 6, 2013 –Annette Nellen is the recipient of the 2013 Arthur J. Dixon Memorial Award, the highest honor bestowed by the accounting profession in the area of taxation.  The award, given by the Tax Division of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), was presented today at the AICPA’s Fall Tax Division Meeting in National Harbor, Md.

Click here to read the press release in its entirety.

Professor Annette Nellen, San Jose State University, surely deserves this honor. Her views on taxation are widely disseminated–via more than 250 articles, numerous testimonials before government panels, on multiple web sites, and her blog21st Century Taxation.

I applaud the AICPA for exercising good judgment in assigning the award to Professor Nellen.

I congratulate Professor Nellen for accomplishing so very much in her special career.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht


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Changing With The Times

[Spartanburg, SC]  I am sitting in a USC Upstate computer lab as I write this.  Why?

My students are taking a test.  Instead of forcing them work everything by hand with a calculator, I’m letting them work any part of the test on a MS Excel spreadsheet.  When done, they can e-mail their file, and turn in anything they wrote by hand on the original test copy.

One of the courses I’m teaching this semester is Intermediate Accounting 2.  The focus of this course is on the right side of the balance sheet.  The first topics are accounting for loans and bonds.  I emphasize amortization tables to aid in generating numbers for financial statements.  I also emphasize using spreadsheets and good techniques (i.e., a diamond organization and using the round function).   So when it came time for the test, some students asked if they could work appropriate parts on a spreadsheet.

Concordia College students asked for the same accommodation a year ago.  Everyone there was happy with the experience, so I’m trying it again.

This is the first accounting or finance class in which my students get to use Excel.  Wow!  Very unfortunate, IMHO.

Professors need to adjust to the times.  I’ve been using spreadsheets in class since 1984 at Andrews University.  Why not emphasize them so much students will need them as an essential tool to take an exam.

Oh, I also have a series of spreadsheet assignments for each upper level accounting course I teach.  I’m the only accounting prof at my school to do so.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht

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Nearly a month ago I was informed that my contract is not to be renewed at USC Upstate.  This puts me back in the job market for accounting professors, but at a time when most schools already have made their hiring decisions for next year.

Why am I departing USC Upstate?  No reason was given, but a sudden change in deans has brought in a dean who does not want to proceed with a strategic move incorporating social media.

I am saddened by the prospect of leaving USC Upstate, as I have grown to love the students.

Ideally, I would get hired by a school which is interested in (1) strengthening its brand through use of various social media platforms, and (2) emphasizing professional use of social media to its students.  And yes, continue to teach undergraduate accounting students.  Accounting faculty recruiting committees, though, are interested in ability to teach accounting and generate academic publications.

I would love to end up at a school that wants a social media enabled accounting professor.  It can be a non-tenure track position.  If you can suggest a school to which I can apply, please send me an e-mail (albrecht@profalbrecht.com).

For my qualifications, please read my C.V.

Debit and credit -  – David Albrecht

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Flipping

It’s official, I’m a flipper. The Accounting Today commented on my work in flipping the classroom. I’ve been doing it for years, predating the 2007 figure in the image below. In this post, I explain what is flipping the classroom.

What is a flipper? I’m not talking about the dolphin named Flipper. Nor am I talking about a 1920s flapper, nor a basketball flopper.

In a flipped classroom, students study theory at home and come to class for the how-to. To give the students the theory (and the why), professors digitize their lectures (usually via video or audio). Students are supposed to study these.
Now to present an infographic by Knewton and Column Five Media that does a fine job of summarizing the approach.

Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Flipping the classroom works well in college, and it works great in collegiate accounting courses. It is the foundation of my becoming a master teacher.

by David Albrecht

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Many of the business schools in the United States are accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business).  Generally speaking, AACSB accreditation is dominated by larger B-schools who are able to attract doctorally trained business faculty.  I have been at AACSB schools for most of my career.

When B-schools are up for accreditation or renewal, one of the usual problem areas is assurance of learning.  An evaluation of assurance of learning addresses whether students learned what they were supposed to learn, and how well.  It is a problem area because no professor likes to do it, so most don’t.

Assurance of learning can take place at the program level or course level.  For accounting programs, many schools rely on the passage rate of their students on the CPA exam.  This of course is a very diffuse measure, as student performance on the CPA exam is affected by many factors other than what happens in a student’s recent course of study, and not necessarily by what happened in the students accounting school.

There are problems with an evaluation of assurance of learning at the course level, also.  One such problem is that learning for the long run is considered by some as a desirous goal.  But surveying students a few years after a course ends is difficult.  Perhaps because of the many problems, and because it is a lot of work, most professors do not generate an assessment of learning for their courses.  I think they should.  What follows is what I do.

I evaluate assurance of learning as I go along during a course.  My blog essay today is based on the assumption that my course is set up to teach what is supposed to be taught.  Although I’m not doing it here, evidence for this stage of the evaluation can be gathered from the course syllabus and its section on detailed course learning outcomes.

The basics of my evaluation of assurance of learning from within a course is to gather evidence of measurements (scores and/or grades) from summative tests and projects (after learning has taken place and where letter grades are assigned) to form an opinion as to whether student learning has taken place for each specific course learning objective.  Wow, that is a long sentence.

In the following report on my evaluation of assurance of learning for my recent cost accounting course, you can see how I’ve used numeric scores from each test question (or group of questions) to assess whether each course learning outcome has been satisfactorily met.

Albrecht Report on Evaluation of Assurance of Learning
for recent cost accounting test.

I will release the test with answers later today.

Of course, one might question what test question scores really mean.  Much of the time I log and count each different student answer, and list how many points were awarded for that answer.  Although I have not done it for this test (hey, I’m tired already), it is the only way of documenting what level of student performance has actually taken place on the test.  Rest assured, I have been doing it for years.  And, I don’t use multiple choice questions, only problems and questions requiring written answers.

You might ask, is all of this really necessary?  Well, such reports are in many ways like auditor work papers.  And yes, they are necessary.  But as I said, no professor likes to do it, and most professors don’t do it.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht

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Cheating.  About 99.9% of humanity does it at one time or another. It’s common in education.  It’s common in business.  It’s common everywhere.

Accounting is one profession where honesty and integrity is part of the job description.  Yet, cheating exists.  A friend, former accountant and CFO Sam Antar, orchestrated much of the splashiest fraud of the 1980s at Crazy Eddie. Accountant cheating, as in financial statement manipulation, is pandemic.

In my surfing, I came across a website with this catchy banner:

Pic credit: WeTakeYourClass.com

WeTakeYourClass will take your on-line class and guarantee at least a grade of B.  It says it will get you an A 99% of the time. It specializes in taking math, business and sciences.  It specifically mentions accounting.

It is frustrating for me to know that while I spend my life trying to teach students to do the right thing, there are people trying to get them to do the wrong thing.

Pic credit: WeTakeYourClass.com

The site claims to get a student an A about 99% of the time, and it also claims to be risk free to the student. Are they being honest about cheating?

A comment to a similar story at Carpe Diem says, “I … found out that there are many sites that offer this service. One quotes a fee a low as $695 for grad level courses and only $430 for undergrad economics courses.”  Hey, that’s affordable.

If you are a student and are reading this, please don’t do it.

I prefer F2F classes where a student can look you in the eye while he/she cheats.  It’s more honest that way.

Thanks to Jim Ulvog for the tip.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht


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A meme is an image or recording packaged in such a way as to communicate a message or capture the fancy of those who see/view/hear it.  It is communicated via the Internet.   Their explosive impact has come of age in today’s social media world.

A few minutes ago I received an e-mail from Auntie Bev, into which she had pasted several meme images.  One caught my eye, and I’ve since been able to determine that it’s a true viral phenomenon, posted to thousands of blogs and Facebook accounts.

I’m not sure about the message of this meme.  Perhaps it is that some cheaters are unstoppable.  Or, masterful cheating is admirable.  Perhaps the message is that because cheating is unstoppable, it’s OK to do it.

Using my screen capture utility, I have snipped the following image from another viral meme.  It delivers quite a different message.

I suppose the message for this one is that opportunistic cheating is everywhere.  Or, it might be that cheating is due to teacher carelessness.  Whatever, the meme is funny.  Darn kids.  If this one would only try to learn as much as he tries to cheat.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht

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In both 2011 and 2012 I presented a continuing education workshop at the annual meeting of the American Accounting Association.  The title of my workshop is, “Using Social Media in the Classroom.”

Using blogs in a classroom is a very good vehicle for students to practice their critical thinking skills.  Critical thinking can be exercised through analyzing what another person says, or using its principles to structure commentaries or essays for a more profound impact.

In my most recent workshop, a few of the participants mentioned their intention to have students write blog posts for class.  I agree that this is an excellent way for students to practice the use of writing for professional expression.

But let’s think about the strategic placement of writing blog posts.  Should this be done in a single course or throughout an educational program?

In my opinion, the benefit from writing comes from repeatedly having to do it over a longer period of time.  For sure, there is some benefit from having a student write an isolated paper.  That benefit, though, is limited mostly to learning more about the topic of the paper.  Having a student write only a single paper does not help him or her work on strengthening writing and/or critical thinking skills.  Developing and strengthening such skills takes repeated practice by the student and insightful feedback from the professor.

Such practice and feedback can occur either in a single course if it is dedicated to blogging, or throughout the entirety of an educational program if it is incorporated into every course.  Today’s e-mail brings notice of the University of Calgary incorporating blogging throughout the entirety of a graduate education program.  Students are expected to write blog posts in every course they take.  Wow!

Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton writes the following in her blog post at Literacy, Languages and Leadership, “12 Tips to Incorporate Blogging into Your Classes.”

In a recent Master’s of Education course I taught at the University of Calgary, blogging was a required assignment for the students. The program coordinator (my boss) urged me to have the students blog as part of their course. She let me know that the students were enrolled in a graduate certificate program and that the course I was teaching was the first course of their certificate. She said that the certificate had been set up so that students would blog throughout their entire learning experience, as part of every course in their certificate.

I’ve heard some business professors mention that blogging might simply be incorporated as a component of their school’s course in business communications.  I, however, think the benefit is much greater if using the approach employed at the University of Calgary.

Eaton’s blog post, “12 Tips to Incorporate Blogging into Your Classes,” serves as a useful reminder of implementation issues once the decision has been made to go ahead with blogging over a longer period of time.  Students will need a blog site (I recommend WordPress.com). Although there are many issues, Eaton provides advice on the basics.  It’s worth a read.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht


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I’m currently at the American Accounting Association annual meeting in the Washington metro area. A year ago (August 3, 2011), I wrote the following essay. To make it easier for this year’s attendees to read this message, I’m republishing it today.


I’m a throwback accounting professor, yet I use social media (not afraid to admit it). Social media helps me do my job.

A few months ago, I queried members of my LinkedIn network who are accounting professors (n=70). I already knew most of them didn’t blog, tweet, create videos, friend students or have FB pages. They admitted that they don’t actually use LinkedIn, either. Am I weird, or are they behind the curve?

Social media is a true force in the world today. People who participate in online social media sites have more and deeper relationships than those who do not. Social media adds to the quality of life. It has revolutionized marketing. It even has been used to foster revolt and topple governments. Some are arguing causality, using social media will help make a person more social. I’ve looked around, and the business world is using social media–both companies and business people. The professional world of accounting is also flocking to social media–both firms and individual accountants.

So, I don’t think I’m weird for using social media when my colleagues don’t. Here are seven reasons for professors to use social media (henceforth referred to as SM) and improve their professional effectiveness. (more…)

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One of the courses I teach is Cost Accounting.  As some of you remember, it is a course for undergraduate accounting majors and is taken during the junior or senior year.  Although some schools teach it in a two course sequence (as does Bowling Green State University where I was once an associate professor), at many schools it is a stand alone course.

At my new school (University of South Carolina Upstate), Cost Accounting is taken by both accounting and general business majors.  As a result, the course is a mix of (1) costing for the accounting students, and (2) showing how to use accounting information for making decisions by the nonaccounting students.

You might be interested in reading my syllabus.  You’ll see what a collegiate syllabus has evolved into.

In days past, a syllabus included the professor’s name and phone number, a grading scale (for three tests and attendance/homework), and a schedule for the semester with homework assignments.  Such a syllabus could be printed on one page (or two pages at most).

My syllabus is substantially different.  I spend several pages trying to motivate students as to why they should (1) take the course, and (2) care enough about it to become involved as an active learner.  For accounting students, getting buy-in is essential to earning their commitment to work hard on a daily basis.  Nonaccounting students, on the other hand, would rather do almost anything else than take this course.  Preferable alternatives include a root canal, hard labor, being bossed around by parents.  If they are not adequately motivated, they probably won’t learn anything at all.

You’ll also notice the detailed learning outcomes.  Accreditation bodies are pressuring universities (and therefore the professors) to be able to prove that students are learning what they should be in their courses.  It is not enough to prove it by saying that certain grades were earned.

Also, you will notice a number of course policies.  The 21st century is a full-disclosure era.  Students must be made aware of how the course is to be managed.

I require students to write papers and work on realistic projects.  I also write my own homework problems.

To check out my syllabus, click on the following image.

Click on image to read ProfAlbrecht’s Cost Accounting syllabus.

Debit and credit -  – David Albrecht


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Accounting professor Sue Ravenscroft (Iowa State) is chair of the Public Interest Section of the American Accounting Association (of accounting professors).  She sent out this announcement yesterday.

Have you been following the news about the Libor rate manipulation scandal? The one that recently led to the pressured resignation of the CEO of Barclay’s Bank?

Providence College Professor Mike Kraten began investigating allegations of Libor rate manipulation four years ago with colleagues from NYU, Moody’s, and UConn, and has continued his forensic research work since then.

He discussed his work at the 2010 Midyear Meeting of the Public Interest Section, and published his study in the Journal of Banking and Finance early this year. After his work was cited on the floor of the British House of Commons during a floor debate on global banking regulations, the British press (and its American counterparts) recognized Mike and his co-authors’ study as a major influence on current efforts to investigate the causes of the scandal and to reform the system.

Click Here to read a recent editorial by City AM, a news publication that covers London’s financial district.

Click Here to read an article that initially appeared in the Financial Times of London and that now appears on the CNBC web site under a content sharing arrangement.

And Click Here to read an article that initially appeared in the Economist and now appears on the CFO Magazine web site under a content sharing arrangement.

Congratulations to Mike and his colleagues.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht


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Accounting Education is a British journal published by Taylor & Francis, a profit seeking company. It has just released its issue for June, 2012 (Vol. 21, No 3).  This issue is devoted to academic cheating by students (but not by faculty) and their sensitivity to ethical issues.  A few of the articles sound very interesting.  I would read the entire issue if not for the price.

There are six articles and one editorial.  The download fee is $36 USD per article/essay, or $275 for the entire issue.

Guest Editorial 

  • Academic Dishonesty, Cheating Behaviour and Other Forms of Inappropriate Conduct
    Kenneth J. Smith & Malcolm Smith

Original Articles

  • A Longitudinal Study of Accounting Students’ Ethical Judgement Making Ability
    Maisarah Mohamed Saat, Stacey Porter & Gordon Woodbine
  • The Impact of Honour Codes and Perceptions of Cheating on Academic Cheating Behaviours, Especially for MBA Bound Undergraduates
    Heather M. O’Neill & Christian A. Pfeiffer
  • Challenges to Academic Integrity: Identifying the Factors Associated With the Cheating Chain
    Richard A. Bernardi, Caitlin A. Banzhoff, Abigail M. Martino & Katelyn J. Savasta
  • To Cheat or Not to Cheat: Rationalizing Academic Impropriety
    Jason MacGregor & Martin Stuebs
  • Perceptions of Authorial Identity in Academic Writing among Undergraduate Accounting Students: Implications for Unintentional Plagiarism
    Joan Ballantine & Patricia McCourt Larres
  • Unethical and Deadly Symbiosis in Higher Education
    D. Larry Crumbley, Ronald Flinn & Kenneth J. Reichelt

$275 is a bit pricey for me.  I might pay $15 or $20 to read them all.  If subscribing for a firm, an academic unit or a library, the price is $1,349 USD per year (six issues per year).  And people wonder why no one ever reads a professor’s published academic article.

Truly, I would like to read some of these papers, but the price is simply too high.  I think something needs to be done with the financing model of academic publications.  In this age of the Internet, too many commentaries and research papers are available inexpensively.  Maintaining artificially high prices restricts reader access.  If accounting professors are business professors, why is it that we seem to be ignorant of the law of supply and demand.

Moreover, why is there no blog for this journal?  In a blog researchers could interpret their findings for the public.

Debit and credit – - David Albrecht


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