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Accountancy capstone : enhancing integration and professional identity

  • Stanley, Trevor
  • Marsden, Stephen J.
Publication Date
Oct 09, 2013
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive
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Capstone units are generally seen to have three main aims: integrating the program, reflecting on prior learning, and transitioning into the workplace. However, research indicates that most programs do not achieve outcomes in all three areas with Henscheid (2000) revealing that integration is the major goal of many capstone programs. As well, in the accounting education literature there has been little empirical evidence relating to the effectiveness of student learning as a result of implementing a capstone unit. This study reports on the development and implementation of an accountancy capstone unit at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), which began in 2006. The main features of this capstone unit are: the use of problem-based learning (PBL); integration of the program; the development of a professional identity whereby classes are broken up into groups of a maximum of five students who take on the persona of a professional accounting firm for an entire semester; and the students, acting as professional advisors within that firm, are required to solve a series of unstructured, multi-dimensional accounting problems based on limited given facts. This process is similar to a professional advisor asking a client about the facts relating to the particular problem of the client and then solving the problem. The research was conducted over nine semesters and involved the collection of both quantitative and qualitative data from a student questionnaire. The results indicate that in terms of student perceptions, the capstone unit was very effective in enhancing integration of the program and enhancing professional identity thereby assisting student transition into the professional accounting workplace. Our approach therefore meets two of the three generally accepted aims of a capstone unit. With accounting educators striving to maximise student learning from a finite set of resources, this approach using PBL has resulted in improved learning outcomes for accounting students about to enter the workplace as professionals.

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