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|Title: ||Understanding students' learning: a study of prospective professional accountants in Ireland|
|Authors: ||Flood, Barbara|
|Issue Date: ||2003|
|Publisher: ||© Barbara Flood|
|Abstract: ||This study is concerned with developing an understanding of students' learning as
they prepare for the final qualifying examination of a professional accountancy
body in Ireland. It explores, from the perspectives of students, approaches to
learning for the examination, the factors which influence those approaches and
perceptions of the outcomes of the learning process.
The research is conducted within an interpretive framework and it employs both
qualitative and quantitative research methods. In-depth interviews examine
students' motivations as they prepare for the examination and their intentions to.
seek understanding in their learning. The interviews also provide rich descriptions
of students' detailed study activities, the key factors which influence their learning
and their perceptions of learning outcomes. Quantitative data concerning students'
learning approaches as they prepared for the final qualifying examination were
gathered using the Approaches and Studies Skills Inventoiyfor Students (ASSIST,
1997), which was conceptually and statistically validated for use in the particular
The findings of this study depict students' learning as they prepare for the final
qualifying examination as highly contextualised. Students are intent on achieving
examination success, primarily for the purposes of progressing their careers as
professional accountants. They perceive the qualifying examination to be a hurdle
and they plan and engage in their study in order to overcome it and to access the
perceived career benefits that lie beyond. Thus, students' preparation is generally
framed by strategic motivation rather than by intrinsic interest in the syllabus
material or the accounting discipline. They perceive that the examination requires
the understanding of material as opposed to simple regurgitation of facts, so they
undertake their study with the intention of seeking understanding. While variation
is revealed in the ways in which students operationalise this intention in their
detailed study activities, deep/strategic learning approaches were primarily found
to dominate surface learning approaches.
The study reveals that the key aspects of the professional accounting education
environment which influence students' learning are the nature of the final
qualifying examination itself (case-based papers, open-book examination
environinent) and the context in which they work. It also identifies that students'
perceptions of the outcomes of the learning process rest firmly on whether they
achieve examination success. There is little evidence that students associate the
final qualifying examination with developing professional competence or with
fostering the knowledge, skills and values required to support lifelong learning.
This study is novel in its combination of the subject matter (students' learning)
and the setting (pre-qualification professional accounting education) and it thus
contributes to the professional education and accounting education literatures. The
findings of the study benefit a range of stakeholders and they particularly
contribute to any review of the pre-qualification education system of the
particular professional accountancy body.|
|Description: ||A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.|
|Appears in Collections:||PhD Theses (Business School)|
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