The aim of this paper is to report on the development and implementation of two student-centred teaching approaches, not usually thought to be appropriate for large group situations. These projects involved adapting teaching methods to facilitate a move away from the conventional lecturer-centred approach (the “chalk-and-talk” of earlier generations) and to respond to an environment challenged by the perpetually changing requirements of professional bodies, increasingly large classes and high student-staff ratios.
Two student-centred projects were implemented at a South African residential university in the discipline of auditing, and the topic of general controls in the information technology (IT) environment was addressed. This study reports on two cycles of the development and implementation of the projects following an action research methodology.
It was found that “non-standard” teaching practices can be implemented successfully and that active student involvement, even in a large class environment, is achievable and is therefore recommended, not least because this could positively impact on students’ overall skills development. The action research methodology was successfully used to incorporate changes, enforced by the challenges accounting academics are faced with.
Limitations associated with this study are that it was conducted at only one South African university, and that it was in a specific and technical topic within the single field of auditing. The study also did not measure whether deep or surface learning had taken place. As various factors contribute to learning, it was also not possible to report on whether positive changes to students’ normal learning processes have been achieved as a result of the initiatives.
The contribution this study makes is twofold. First, it adds to the field of accounting education research by indicating that student-centred projects can successfully address the abovementioned challenges faced by accounting academics. Second, it demonstrates that action research, as a methodology for examining and developing accounting education, can be used effectively by academics to improve their teaching practices.
Kirstein, M. and Kunz, R. (2015), "Student-centred approach to teaching large classes: friend or foe?", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 222-246. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-06-2013-0025Download as .RIS
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