Showing posts from April, 2010

A Dream

I dreamed about teaching last night. Normally, I do not remember my dreams and, if I do, they are weird snippets that make no sense. Last night was different. I dreamed that I flew to Arizona (not sure why it was Arizona) for a teaching conference with about 25 other college professors. At the end, one of the participants challenged the group to write down on a sheet of paper what we each believed was the secret to good teaching. In my dream, I wrote down “you have to care enough about your students that you are willing to force them to prepare for every class.” And, I woke up. I am not sure what I would have written down in real life but it could not have been better than what I wrote down in that dream. I do not think you need to love your students but I do believe you should care about them – even the ones who occasionally drive you crazy. For a short period of time, about 14 weeks twice a year, a small piece of each student’s future is in your hands. Where they go

Third Test Available

I gave my third (and last test before the final exam) last week. Many of you have asked for copies of my previous tests. Anyone who would like a copy of this one can send me a note at I thought the test was pretty good -- it was a quirky type of multiple-choice test that I like to give when I have a lot of computations that I want the students to make. However, it was clearly a challenge for them. They had to push hard to finish in 75 minutes. In the end, I had 44 percent who earned an A or B. I thought that was a bit low. I believe the class has gone well this semester (they are the most engaged group that I have had in years -- I'm biased but I credit my new textbook for that) and I always prefer to have over 50 percent grades of A or B. It is an intro class in late spring with only a very few potential accounting majors so maybe 44 percent is about right. Obviously, this is one of the never ending internal debates for a professor: how much

Chinese Proverb

A CPA friend of mine sent me the following and told me that it was an ancient Chinese proverb (Google agrees). I thought it was worth passing along. “When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.”

14 Questions to Introduce Present Value

When I talk with financial accounting teachers, the topic of present value will eventually come up. Teachers are often puzzled by how much they should cover. Some teachers tell me they skip present value entirely whereas others let me know that they believe extensive coverage is necessary. What does a sophomore in an introductory financial accounting class need to know about present value? What can they really understand? I find that if I throw terms like “discounted cash flows” and “the time value of money” at my sophomores, they quickly become lost. What seems crystal clear to me as the teacher can be puzzling to a young student. However, if students are going to take other business courses or other accounting courses, they need to have some basic understanding of present value concepts. So, yesterday, in my classes here at the University of Richmond, we began to examine present value. I did this by looking asking them the following series of questions: 1 – What is in

More Predictions

A few days ago I wrote about speaking to a group of accountants here in Richmond about the future of higher education. At that time, I made a prediction about Google (or some similar organization) getting into higher education in a serious manner during the next decade. Today, I wanted to give you a few of my other predictions. Not sure that I entirely believe any or all of them but it is always interesting to contemplate how the world of education will evolve over the next ten years. Here you go: (1) – Accounting programs will begin to require less accounting coverage. I think it is unrealistic to expect students to learn more and more accounting in college before they have sufficient practical experience to grasp what they are learning. I could give you a list of 50 things we commonly teach students today that they cannot possibly understand fully without additional real life experience. I have long argued that the flaw in the 150 hour requirement is that the profession

What If?

Last Wednesday, I gave a one-hour presentation for PricewaterhouseCoopers. The partner and I had talked about a topic and finally decided on “College Education Over the Next Ten Years” since I do a lot of thinking about how education as we know it will evolve. I decided to end this program by making a few predictions. I thought that seemed appropriate. And, it would be fun. To generate discussion (or debate), I made a few of them rather far out. But, on the whole, I really did believe that most would come to pass in one form or another. So, I figured I could throw out my predictions to you today and let you ponder them a bit. Because the first one is central to my overall view of the future, I decided to include just it today. In the next day or so, I’ll give you all of the rest of my predictions. Remember, though, that these are for the next ten years. And, as we all know, over 10 years a lot can happen given the fast pace of change in the world today. Here is my f

What's The Payoff?

Remember you can read the brand new Financial Accounting textbook that I wrote with C. J. Skender by going to It is free, online. Why not read it or let your students know it is there and ask them to look it over as a supplement? ** If you have read my blog, you already know that I am somewhat obsessed with the importance of student preparation for class. In fact, my students would probably say that I’m “totally obsessed” with the importance of student preparation. I do not see how a teacher can accomplish much if the students have done no preliminary work. At that point, all they can do is sit quietly and take notes. That is not education; that is stenography. Like most professors, I assign several pages for them to read prior to each class and give them some questions/problems to prepare so that we can hold a legitimate discussion/debate. However, most students have a lot of calls on their time and they will look at any s