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Comparing accounting students’ instructional preferences: Australia and Zimbabwe

Seedwell T.M. Sithole (Department of Accounting, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)
Indra Abeysekera (College of Business and Law, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia)

Journal of International Education in Business

ISSN: 2046-469X

Article publication date: 6 May 2019

Issue publication date: 20 May 2021




This study aims to examine the instructional preferences exhibited by students in an Australian and a Zimbabwean setting and how cultural conditioning can reflect in the instructional design choice and the effect on the learning process.


Using graphical and textual presentations of an experiment with three instructional designs and 217 undergraduate students, this study empirically examines student understanding of financial accounting in the two countries. Students’ performance scores and reported mental effort ratings were used to determine the instructional preference.


The findings of this comparative study show that Australian accounting students prefer graph and text designs aligned with a low power distance, (PD) while Zimbabwean students prefer graph and text designs associated with a high PD. Deep-rooted cultural values and modes of thinking need to be considered in the learning processes.

Research limitations/implications

The sample used in this study came from first-year undergraduate students studying introductory accounting at two different universities from two different countries (Australia and Zimbabwe). The results may not be generalisable to other universities, although similar patterns were found to be consistent with students’ cultural orientations. In addition, there may be other factors that motivate students’ learning and affect their performance, and those should therefore be considered.

Practical implications

The results suggest that students learning in different cultural contexts learn better with different instructional formats, requiring educators to consider different formats of instructional material.


This study is the first to offer accounting educators insights on one major dimension of cultural variation, using instructional material designed according to cognitive load theory principles in a cross-cultural context.



Sithole, S.T.M. and Abeysekera, I. (2021), "Comparing accounting students’ instructional preferences: Australia and Zimbabwe", Journal of International Education in Business, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 1-19.



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