Using asynchronous discussion forums to create social communities of practice in financial accounting

Sidney Weil, Nicholas McGuigan, Thomas Kern, Baiding Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose – This study aims to examine students’ perceptions of the use of asynchronous discussion forums to facilitate case-based learning in financial accounting, measuring whether students’ perceptions of the benefits of using online discussion forums are related to – and can be predicted from – students’ demographic profiles. The paper commences by briefly reviewing the case study-based learning literature, followed by an in-depth review of the use of asynchronous discussion forums as a delivery platform. These pedagogical approaches are then linked to the emerging needs and learning styles of the current generation of “digital” students.
Design/methodology/approach – The study, which is questionnaire-based, uses data collected from two New Zealand universities. A choice modelling approach is used to analyse the data in order to correlate students’ preferences for online discussion forum usage with their profiles.
Findings – The findings of the study indicate that students perceive numerous benefits to be associated with case-based online discussions, including learning from other students’ opinions and perspectives, the opportunity to debate issues critically, encouragement to think independently, a heightened awareness of
their communication ability and assisting them to revise prior-held views of accounting. These findings, supported by students’ comments, suggest that the use of asynchronous discussion forums has created a social discourse of learning, assisting in the construction of a community of practice infinancial accounting. The choicemodelling analysis of the results indicates that the studentsmost likely to be positively disposed towards discussion groups are older,male, domestic students, who have English as a first language.Of the
international student respondents, Asian students perceive the forum as being most useful.
Originality/value – The study provides evidence that accounting students perceive value from the use of asynchronous discussion forums. Furthermore, the choice modelling identifies which particular groups of students may benefit most from the use of online discussion forums. The findings suggest that accounting educators may gainfully employ this learning technique in their courses as a means of developing critical thinking skills, building a heightened awareness of the student’s ability to communicate and enhancing overall student engagement and participation in course work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-57
Number of pages28
JournalPacific Accounting Review
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Accounting education
  • Financial accounting
  • Asynchronous discussion forums
  • Case-based learning
  • Community of practice
  • Accounting
  • Finance and accounting
  • New Zealand

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