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Accounting Article

Accounting education changes course: communication skills and real-world cases broaden the syllabus

Twenty years ago detractors of accounting education were plentiful among practitioners and academics alike. The heart of their complaint was that university accounting curricula drilled students in rote technical memorization at the expense of the broader business,

communication and analytical skills they needed in a real world changing at warp speed.

Even recently such critics were easy to find. For example, five years ago in their widely read monograph "Accounting Education: Charting the Course through a Perilous Future," professors W. Steve Albrecht, CPA, CIA and CFE, and Robert J. Sack, CPA, said accounting education was so "outdated and broken" that failure to embrace reform could be fatal.

Their findings were controversial, but few argued with the thrust of Albrecht and Sack's report: Educators needed to better align accounting curricula with workplace realities and alter their teaching methods to encourage critical thinking. The AICPA credited the pair with presenting "a compelling case for dramatically restructuring accounting education" and urged educators to "boldly reengineer their curriculums and programs using the roadmap provided by Professors Albrecht and Sack." Three years later, in "Educating for the Public Trust," PricewaterhouseCoopers said despite advances there still were important educational gaps, from not teaching university students interpersonal and communication skills to not inspiring a commitment to continuous learning ... For more details.

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