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Hybrid Delivery of Accounting Course Enhances Student Mastery, According to Professor

The Penn State Smeal College of Business course Financial and Managerial Accounting for Decision Making (Accounting 211) has a reputation for rigor. Ken Pasch, instructor in accounting and management, has leveraged technology to help reinforce lessons and provide students with opportunities for practice and extra credit.
April 2, 2014

The Penn State Smeal College of Business course Financial and Managerial Accounting for Decision Making (Accounting 211) has a reputation for rigor. Ken Pasch, instructor in accounting and management, has leveraged technology to help reinforce lessons and provide students with opportunities for practice and extra credit.

Accounting 211 introduces both financial and managerial accounting concepts to more than 2,200 students each year. Along with being a required course for all Smeal undergraduates, Accounting 211 also serves students from a variety of other majors across Penn State.

Pasch decided that a hybrid course—one that combined the traditional classroom with digital delivery methods—could provide students deeper opportunities to engage with the course material. He began recording all his course lectures—which include audio, video, and presentation slides—so that students could view them at any time and at their own pace.

He also includes further resources that can provide students extra opportunities to engage with material, including weekly video interviews with business professionals.

“By making materials available on our course management system, including extra credit quizzes and additional ways for students to earn points toward their grades, this has given us more opportunities to make the course accessible to all students,” said Pasch.

In addition, Pasch uses Yammer—an enterprise social network that works much like Facebook but is limited to Penn Staters—to encourage a more robust learning community. The Accounting 211 group on Yammer consists of students, teaching assistants (TAs), and Pasch himself.

“We’ve had phenomenal success: last year, more than 93 percent of our students earned a C or better—and that includes students outside the major.”

“In the Yammer group, students, TAs, and myself can all contribute to answering student questions,” said Pasch.

He continued, “In fact, the entire course is really a team effort. I rely heavily on our student support liaison, the instructional designers, other instructors, and our TAs to ensure that this course and all its components work well. All of them are tremendous assets to myself and to the course.”

Michael Foley, a former Accounting 211 student and current TA for the course, said, “As a student, the technology was crucial in my learning of the material. The ability to access problems online enabled me to focus on the concepts that I believed were the most difficult. Furthermore, in a class as difficult as ACCTG 211, being able to go back and review lectures or problems that you did not grasp in class was extremely beneficial to me.”

Foley says that he can tell, as a TA, that his students really benefit from the technological components of the course as well.

“I have had several students express how the practice problems online have prepared them for quizzes and exams throughout the course,” Foley said.

Pasch agrees that students seem better able to grasp the concepts presented in the course now that they have access to a library of multimedia-rich resources, and the proof is in the results.

“We’ve had phenomenal success: last year, more than 93 percent of our students earned a C or better—and that includes students outside the major.”

The multimedia content for Pasch’s course was facilitated by Smeal’s Research, Instruction, and Information Technology Group, whose mission is to provide innovative solutions that have a transformative impact on learning and research.

About Undergraduate Education at the Penn State Smeal College of Business
The Smeal College of Business offers undergraduate majors and minors that span the business spectrum, preparing students for a business world that is complex, global, and diverse. Smeal undergraduate students have access to dozens of student organizations and involvement opportunities, study abroad partnerships around the world, and personalized career planning and academic advising services to help them thrive at Smeal and in their careers. Learn more at www.smeal.psu.edu/uge.

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