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Scaffolding essay writing skills for accounting students: a collaboration


Fleet, W and Oxley, L, Scaffolding essay writing skills for accounting students: a collaboration, Teaching Matters 2014 - 'Spaces and Places': Program book, 2-3 December 2014, Launceston, Tasmania, pp. 18. (2014) [Plenary Presentation]


Accounting courses have traditionally concentrated on teaching technical skills for the profession. Recently however, the design, content and delivery of accounting courses in Australia has undergone considerable change, especially with regard to expectations for graduates. AQF, ALTC, and CPA/ICAA accreditation requirements, as well as the University graduate attributes, all emphasise the importance of written communication skills for university graduates and the accounting profession. This presentation showcases the scaffolded writing skills support provided for students enrolled in the Masters in Professional Accounting (MPA) offered on-campus in Hobart.

Students entering the MPA are predominantly international (over 90%) and also have a first degree in a nonaccounting discipline. The number of students in the course with English as an Additional Language (EAL) is unknown, but the proportion is likely to be very high. It is now generally accepted that students arriving in Australia immediately prior to the commencement of their course of study, with limited understanding of the nature of that study, and with little prior experience of Australian academic and business settings, are likely to experience significant challenges with both transition and assignment tasks. To maintain the quality of the accounting course, collaborative partnerships between discipline staff and Learning Skills Advisers can provide effective, equitable and scaffolded support that addresses the communicative demands of specific courses and therefore contributes to the achievement of successful academic and professional outcomes.

The scaffolding provided for the MPA students covers in-class activities, a website aimed specifically at writing skills for accounting students and, over the last four years, a collaborative initiative between the coordinator of BFA605 Financial and Corporate Accounting and a Learning Skills Adviser from the Student Learning team. The collaboration aims to embed writing skills development into the program in preparation for the major essay assignment. Each semester, supplementary workshops designed to develop key skills for addressing the task requirements are timetabled into the unit. The workshops are interactive, with smallgroup discussion centring on the writing process and essay presentation requirements, application of the accounting regulations to the particular real-world case, analysis of argument structure in model paragraphs, and a focus on grammar and vocabulary features which commonly occur in the essay context. Workshop content is continually revised in consideration of feedback from students and the unit co-ordinator.

Evaluation surveys are completed by workshop participants at the end of each workshop. Feedback has consistently been very positive. For example, this semester 60% of respondents rated the workshops as Extremely Useful, with the remaining 40% rating them as Useful. It is anticipated that the scaffolding of writing skills development for BFA605 students will continue and expand into other accounting units in the MPA course. The aim is to create a comprehensive embedded writing skills program across the MPA that enables accounting students to become successful communicators at University and in their professional lives.

Item Details

Item Type:Plenary Presentation
Keywords:English for Academic Purposes
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Linguistics
Research Field:Applied linguistics and educational linguistics
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Fleet, W (Ms Wendy Fleet)
UTAS Author:Oxley, L (Mrs Louise Oxley)
ID Code:108416
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:Academic Division
Deposited On:2016-04-19
Last Modified:2016-04-19

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