This study examines the effect of using a computerized decision aid on student cognitive effort and learning in the first tax course. Students at a mid-western university in the United States prepared a 1040 tax return using either paper or tax software from a given set of taxpayer information. Students using paper forms reported higher levels of cognitive effort than did students using the tax software, however, no association between self-efficacy and cognitive effort was found. A test for association between decision aid type and inferential (higher-level) learning (the third level of Bloom's taxonomy) found cognitive effort to be statistically significant. The study also found a significant interaction between cognitive effort and experience. These results suggest that paper forms, which require students to work through task processes, may be better instructional tools for helping students acquire a deeper understanding of subject matter. Although tax software provides potential benefits of increased accuracy and speed, practitioners should be aware of its limitations as a learning tool.
Sheely Heath, R. (2008), "Tax software versus paper return: the effect of a computerized decision aid on cognitive effort and student learning", Schwartz, B.N. and Catanach, A.H. (Ed.) Advances in Accounting Education (Advances in Accounting Education, Vol. 9), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 57-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1085-4622(08)09003-2
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