An exploration of tertiary accounting students’ prior approaches to learning accounting

Byrne, Marann and Willis, Pauline (2008) An exploration of tertiary accounting students’ prior approaches to learning accounting. pp. 35-46.


Improving the quality of learning is an ongoing concern for accounting educators. Studies on student learning in higher; education have shown that students’ prior experiences of learning a subject influence their subsequent approaches to; learning that subject, which in turn affects the quality of learning achieved. Thus, this study gathers evidence from; incoming tertiary accounting students on their prior approaches to learning accounting. Using the Approaches and Study; Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST), data were collected from 265 students immediately prior to the commencement of; their accounting degree. The analysis shows that overall the students favoured a strategic approach and there is a highly; significant difference in their scores on this scale compared to the scores on both the deep and surface scales. The; surface approach was their least favoured with the scores on this scale being significantly lower than those on either of; the other two scales. Surprisingly, the surface scores are considerably lower than those reported in other studies with; accounting students. Gender differences and the scores on each of the subscales are also explored. The paper concludes; by discussing the implications of these findings for accounting educators and suggesting areas for future research.

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