More accolades for innovative accounting lecturers

Posted on March 29, 2019

Prof Stephen Coetzee and Dr Astrid Schmulian of the Department of Accounting in UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences won the South African Accounting Association (SAAA) Best Innovative Teaching Initiative award, sponsored by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). They also won the award for the Best Innovative Teaching Presentation at the South African Accounting Association (SAAA) Teaching and Learning Conference 2018, held at the Nelson Mandela University in December. This conference provided a platform where academics could present and share research focusing on teaching and learning in Accountancy.

Prof Coetzee and Dr Schmulian were recognised for the exciting innovations they have introduced in their teaching, including Messenger bots, Team Assessment with Immediate Feedback (TAIF), and caselette-based Hyperdocs.

Bots are artificial narrow intelligence programmes, based in instant messaging apps, designed to interact with users in a human-like way. According to Prof Coetzee, the use of bots in messaging apps as a learning tool enhances student learning, engagement, motivation and interest, and presents possibilities for collaborative learning and quicker responses to FAQs in a large class environment. “The aim of this intervention used in the second-year Financial Accounting module is for students to actively learn, independently construct their own knowledge through interaction with the bots, to reflect and think more critically and read more attentively, while growing as independent thinkers and lifelong learners.”

TAIF has been suggested as an effective ‘competency-based assessment for learning’ technique and places the emphasis on authenticity and students learning to collaborate. Dr Schmulian explains that this assessment entails the use of the Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT) in a group assessment. “Following team consultation, the student-team scratches off the coating of their preferred response on the printed multiple-choice IF-AT card, and immediate feedback is then provided to the team by the appearance of a star for a correct answer, or a blank block for an incorrect answer.” The team assessment developed generic transferable skills across various competency areas and created an opportunity for social constructivist learning.

In addition, the two lecturers have adopted caselette-based HyperDocs. HyperDocs are transformative, interactive Google Docs or Slides created by teachers and given to students to engage, educate, and inspire learning. Case-based teaching is a pedagogical approach that engages students in the process of making real-world decisions. Cases should represent authentic workplace situations to encourage students to apply knowledge gained from the classroom or through additional research in order to solve the case. While traditional cases may be 15 or more pages long, shorter versions can be adopted and these are referred to as caselettes. When HyperDocs are combined with caselette-based teaching, students can develop skills in collaboration, analytical thinking and reflective judgment by reading and discussing complex, real-life scenarios.

The SAAA awards acknowledge their continually evolving approach to teaching and learning, which has in the past already been acknowledged by receiving awards such as the 2016 National Teaching Excellence Award from the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA).


- Author Petronel Fourie

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