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One Size Does not Fit all – Different Strategies for Teaching Accounting Ethics

Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting

ISBN: 978-1-78190-844-0, eISBN: 978-1-78190-845-7

Publication date: 16 August 2014


Teaching ethical decision making can be distinguished from teaching decision making in other settings by its juxtaposition of students’ affect with their intellect (Gaudine & Thorne, 2001); as Griseri (2002, p. 374) aptly points out, “effective business ethics teaching should involve a combination of…two aspects of ethical situations – their emotional and intellectual elements.” To engage students’ affect, research suggests the use of multiple teaching modalities (e.g., films, case studies, journals, and role-play) (McPhail, 2001). To develop students’ ethical intellect, research recommends using appropriate, individual-specific cognitive stimulation (Massey & Thorne, 2006). Yet, in designing courses, faculty typically preselect course teaching methods independently of the particular students who enroll in the course, often teaching their courses using methods that are consistent with their own personal learning styles (Thompson, 1997) even though those methods may not be effective for (m)any students in their classes. Nonetheless, investigating each student’s preferred learning style and tailoring the course accordingly is impractical (cf., Montgomery & Groat, 1988). Thus, as highlighted in the ethics literature (McPhail, 2001) and suggested in the education literature (Nilson, 2010a), faculty should utilize a variety of approaches to effectively teach ethics to their accounting students. To facilitate these efforts, this paper presents and evaluates various strategies accounting faculty can use to teach accounting ethics in ways that correspond to students’ varying learning preferences. As such, the strategies this paper provides can be used to create an accounting ethics course that affectively impacts and cognitively stimulates a diverse student body that, in turn, can lead to improved ethical reasoning skills.



Graham, C.M., Kelly, P., Massey, D.W. and Van Hise, J. (2014), "One Size Does not Fit all – Different Strategies for Teaching Accounting Ethics", Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting (Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 139-157.



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