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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.

So sad, TWILAP is almost done.   I’ve grown accustomed to getting online and updating my blog for the day’s events.  Typically, I work so hard and long from the start of the week, that on Wednesday I start feeling like the week is almost done.

How did I do on yesterday’s must do list?  Fine, except for #7 (Decide what to do next: learner-centered paper or IFRS paper), #8 (Work on writing a research proposal for above (more on this later), #9 (Respond to Edith Orenstein’s fine essay on why accounting matters over at FEI blog).  Pretty much routine life got in the way of my turning to scholarly pursuits.   That is the story of my career.

8:30-9:30 a.m. E-mail.

9:55-10:20 a.m. In transit.

10:20-3:30 p.m. At school for classes and office hours.  Having students work on papers and projects is important to me.  I’ve been convinced, for years and years, that people discover what they truly think when they are forced to write it down.  I’ve assigned term papers for several years.  This year, in Managerial Accounting, the two term paper assignments deal with (1) costs of quality (I was grading these papers a week ago) and (2) productivity.  It really is true, that college students will put off writing papers until the night before they are due.  Of course, the writing and thinking quality suffers.  This year, I’m having a work day so students can discuss the paper topic with each other.  Having the work day nine days before the deadline gets them thinking about the topic much earlier than normal, and it sends a clear signal as to how important I view the the topic and the paper.  You can see this year’s class, students work with laptops.    On the right side of the classroom (not pictured), a student was using cell phone wireless to look up material from the Internet.  I really like this class.  What a great group of students.

For Intermediate Accounting, the work day involves playing Monopoly.  Why?  I have students play Monopoly and then do the accounting for their experience.   I’ve had students do this since 1992.  Robert Knechel (University of Florida) came up with the original idea in the late 1980s.  The following photos show some of this year’s group of students playing year 3 of their monopoly game.  I really like the Intermediate Accounting students at Concordia.  What a great group of students.

3:30-6:30 p.m. E-mail

10:30-11:00 p.m. In transit back home.

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.

It’s a very big day today.  The following must get done today:

  1. Finish grading
  2. Send off proposal for on-line teaching/learning conference
  3. Send off proposal for summer convention for accounting professors
  4. Prepare for interview
  5. Be interviewed
  6. Listen to BGSU women’s basketball via Internet.  What can I say, am still a fan.
  7. Decide what to do next:  learner-centered paper or IFRS paper.
  8. Work on writing a research proposal for above (more on this later)
  9. Respond to Edith Orenstein’s fine essay on why accounting matters over at FEI blog.
  10. Sleep?

12:00-12:15 a.m. 5 to go.  Will I last?  No, am tired and going home.

12:15-12:40 A.M. In transit back home.  I must get some sleep.

11:00-12:59 a.m. E’mail.

1:30-2:00 p.m. In transit.

2:00-3:00 p.m. Various interactions with staff and faculty at school.  One professor is helping design a new curriculum for the School of Business and his views about the importance of financial accounting differ quite a bit from mine.  He doesn’t teach financial accounting, but I do.  Differences of opinion are to be expected.   It just occurred to me, Edith Orenstein has a fine essay Why Accounting Matters over at the FEI blog.

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

5:30-6:00 p.m. Sent proposals off to two conference.  The proposals deal with conducting a continuing education workshop on advanced teaching.  As I’m about to write several essays on advanced instruction for accounting courses, I’ll defer a description until later.

7:00-9:30 p.m. Interview and preparation for it.   With students of Professor Mark Holtzblatt of Roosevelt University (Chicago/Schaumburg, IL) and their class project.  I think  the interview went well.  I must admit, though, to having anxiety about being recorded.  Does that seem strange that I’d be worried about the taping?  After all, my job is all about making presentations to people (i.e., teaching classes).  I was worried because a camera seems so unforgiving.  When I write blog essays I can edit until happy with the final product.  A taped interview is one and done.   I think the interview went well.

9:30-9:55 p.m. Return home.

9:55-10:55 p.m. E-mail.

10:55-11:59 p.m. Grading.  Almost done.  I’ve sometimes been asked why I assign papers and projects when it takes me so long to grade them and I get so stressed over it.  It is because students learn so much better when they write and when they 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.

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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