Students as professionals: the audit experience

Smith, Susan (2020) Students as professionals: the audit experience. In: Pratt-Adams, Simon, Richter, Uwe and Warnes, Mark (eds.) Innovations in Active Learning in Higher Education. Fulcrum, England, pp. 124-135. ISBN 9781912319961

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Continued changes to the environment in which accountants work particularly in relation to globalisation of the financial markets and continual technological advances have contributed to an ongoing focus on the skillset of professional accountants (Al-Htaybat et al., 2018). Work has migrated from the technical and process based (e.g. book-keeping) to focus on analysis and interpretation of large datasets. Accountants are increasingly relied upon to adopt a critical mindset and communicate their findings in an appropriate manner throughout organisations and externally to interested stakeholders.

Against this backdrop, research continues to show that whilst accounting students are technically proficient, they often lack transferrable skills which are important to potential employers and advancement in the workplace (Paisey and Paisey, 2010). Many university degrees offer students the opportunity to undertake a placement year in industry, however not all do so. Those who undertake a placement benefit from an extended opportunity to develop their skills in the workplace (Paisey and Paisey, 2010) before returning to complete their studies. Those who choose not to identify a number of barriers, including already having sufficient work experience, placement applications distracting from studies, a preference for a year abroad, and inability to find an attractive placement to apply to, amongst others (Shepherd and Sumner, 2018). For students who may have little or no work experience, exposure to the wider development of skills to foster their employability is particularly relevant.

This chapter outlines student reflections on the blend of skills required for the workplace following an active learning experience offered on an optional third year module at a UK university.

Experiential learning involves students participating and learning from an experience which helps them relate their studies to the real world. Assessment based on such experiences is referred to as authentic assessment (Palm, 2008). The audit experience facilitates a condensed version of experiential learning and authentic assessment which might otherwise 124 Susan Smith only be available to those undertaking professional placements (Paisey and Paisey, 2010). In so doing, it facilitates an understanding of the blend of skills required to establish professional credibility (Jones, 2014).

This study adds to the emerging body of research on experiential learning within the curriculum as a means of developing a blend of student employability skills (Jones, 2014) and is one of the first studies to consider this approach in an auditing context.

The chapter is organised as follows. The next section reviews the existing literature in the context of generic skill development and draws on the skills literature to frame the research. The following section describes the methodology and method adopted, which is followed by the results and discussion. The conclusions of the study are discussed in the final section along with the limitations and possible avenues for future research.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Accounting and Finance
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2020 15:22
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2020 15:22

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