Prof Stephen Coetzee and Dr Astrid Schmulian of the Department of Accounting in UP’s Faculty of Economic and Management Scienceswon 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 Department of Accounting (Source: www.up.ac.za)
Academic staff in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences were honoured for the excellence they achieved in teaching and learning, as well as research, at the prestigious annual EMS Awards Function, which was held on 6 June 2018.
Prof Elsabé Loots, Dean of the Faculty, praised the staff in the Faculty for their commitment and hard work in the 2017 academic year. The awards in the teaching and learning category give recognition to lecturers who introduced innovations in their classrooms, maintained high module pass rates and were assessed to be good teachers based on an objective evaluation of their teaching and classroom practice. Stephen and Astrid were awarded this award for the third year in a row! (Source: UP 2018)
Astrid Schmulian from the Department of Accounting received the Best Junior Researcher in Financial Sciences 2017 award, which recognises achievers in the field of research who contribute towards the University's strategic goals of achieving academic excellence, international competitiveness and local relevance as measured by the quality of their research.
Prof Stephen Coetzee from the Department of Accounting received the Exceptional Young Researcher Award, which recognises achievers in the field of research who contribute towards the University's strategic goals of achieving academic excellence, international competitiveness and local relevance.
According to him, 'an award is never ever just about the person that receives it. To think that would be arrogant in the extreme. Awards are the culmination of many stars aligning and others playing a significant role in the journey. It is always hard to be the one singled out, because there are others who have contributed massively and should be on the podium with you. I am really proud of the Department of Accounting for the achievements, both seen and unseen, in teaching and research these past few years. There is an abundance of wonderfully talented people in the Department.'
(Source: www.up.ac.za, 2017)
Their passion for student-centred education and innovation has earned Prof Stephen Coetzee and Ms Astrid Schmulian a 2016 National Teaching Excellence Award from the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA).
The two lecturers from UP's Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences were awarded this prestigious prize at a gala dinner held on 24 November 2016, during the annual HELTASA conference in Cape Town. The conference, which was held in conjunction with the International Conference on Education Development this year, aims to highlight the importance of teaching excellence in universities.
The award celebrates the work of Prof Coetzee and Ms Schmulian over a number of years, as they strive to make the second-year Financial Accounting module they lecture more engaging for the students. 'Winning the award gives us the reassurance that we are on the right track,' says Prof Coetzee.
Some of the exciting innovations they have introduced include team-teaching, where they use their combined strengths to cater for the different learning styles of students, as well as the flipped classroom model. This model encourages students to access lecture content in the form of videos beforehand in order to free up class time for practical exercises, role plays and in-depth discussions.
They have also embraced the opportunities presented by technology, offering their students support through webinars, which have aided the continuation of studies in the current conditions faced by the higher education sector across the country. The dynamic pair states that, through attendance of conferences and workshops, they have developed a wide global network of academics with which they can exchange ideas.
'Our teaching methods and innovations are informed by research,' says Ms Schmulian, who reveals that they already have new concepts which they plan to introduce in the coming year. Their research in the field of accounting education has made them the first South African-based authors to publish in Issues in Accounting Education, an A-rated journal in terms of the ABDC ranking list. They also serve on the American Accounting Association's research and teaching committees, and are jointly ranked eighth on the Brigham Young Individual accounting education ranking.
Stephen Coetzee, Astrid Schmulian and Cecile Janse van Rensburg were recognized for outstanding teaching and teaching related activities as lecturers who clearly demonstrate that they make a significant contribution to enhancing students' learning experience. Their students are introduced to accounting principles and rules in pre-readings and videos. Their classroom blends didactic explanations of complex principles and rules, including applications thereof, while encouraging interaction of students with each other and with the instructors. This accounting team has embraced the flipped classroom approach, incorporating elements of constructivism in their teaching.
The exceptional academic achievement of Stephen Coetzee and Astrid Schmulian of the Department of Accounting was recognised when they were announced as team winners of the Teaching Excellence and Innovation Laureate Award at the Annual UP Academic Achievers' Awards function, held on 5 April 2016.
Inspired by an International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) teachers' workshop in London and research by Stanford's Prof Mary Barth, Stephen and Astrid introduced framework-based teaching.
The team believes students learn actively through observing the lecturers interacting and through their own interaction with the lecturers, with each other and with the material, to think more critically, read more attentively, communicate more precisely – all while growing as independent thinkers and life-long learners.
Research informs Stephen and Astrid's teaching and they received funding from the International Association of Accounting Education and Research (IAAER) to support their research. They were the first South African-based authors to publish in Issues in Accounting Education, an A-rated journal in terms of the ABDC ranking list, and have published in other leading international journals on accounting education. They have also co-presented, with leading international academics, accounting education in the Department's course work master's degree.
Today, this team of two are jointly ranked eighth on the Brigham Young Individual accounting education ranking for 2015, making a significant contribution to UP's 3rd institutional position in terms of this ranking.
- Author Department of Accounting (Source: www.up.ac.za)
Stephen & Astrid