Thursday, November 26, 2009

Innovations in Contemporary Issues in Accounting

This semester I trialled a number of innovations in Contemporary Issues in Accounting. These included:
  • Automated marking of practical assignments
  • New methods of communicating generic skills
  • Improving engagement in tutorials
  • Actively pursuing students at risk
It is now time to review the success of these activities.

Automated Marking

This process appeared to work reasonably well. The worst part of this system was the time taken to prepare the questions, check them and provide sufficient margin of error in the answers to allow for differences in assumptions. I did not receive any complaints from students about the time taken to complete the online submission of the answer. There were a couple of the individual questions where I did not allow sufficient range in the accepted answers. One group of students managed to make a mess of their submission by included a comma as a thousand's separator; Moodle does not recognise this as a numerical answer and is a weakness in Moodle. The system, as I had established it, did not allow for late assignments. The system did achieve its objective of providing quick marking.

Communication of Generic Skills

This was a partial success I think. This is purely a subjective view and I do not have any data to support this. The reason it was a partial success was that I listed the generic skills included in the topic. I did not explain how this topic delivered the generic skill nor did I identify the component of the topic which was associated with the delivery of generic skills. I will try to improve this in the future.

Improving Engagement in Tutorials

The techniques I applied worked well early in the semester but were not as effective later in the semester. The reason they lost effectiveness is that the engagement was already present towards the end of the semester and the techniques added little value. I will concentrate on applying these engagement techniques early in the semester only in the future.

Actively Pursuing Students at Risk

I used email and SMS to contact students at risk. Students were identified as "at risk" based on their non-attendance at tutorials, non-submission of assessment items, and poor performance on assessment items. I estimate that this program resulted in three students withdrawing from the unit before they failed and five students drastically improving their attitude to their studies during the semester. I think it also had an impact on other students and resulted in a slight improvement on their performance.

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