Educational  Design  for  CPA   Competencies   Introduction   For  CPA  Canada’s  national  Professional  Education  Program  (PEP),  creation  of  the  Chartered  Professional   Accountant  (CPA)  designation  provides  an  opportunity  to  apply  best  practices  for  curriculum   development  while  designing  a  new  pre-­‐certification  education  program.  This  white  paper  supports  the   PEP’s  work  by  outlining  best  practices  from  scholarly  educational  research,  especially  Fink’s  (2003)   course  design  model,  for  the  context  of  CPA  competencies.1  The  educational  best  practices  outlined  in   this  white  paper  also  apply  to  other  educational  settings  and  may  be  particularly  useful  to  accounting   programs  in  Canadian  post-­‐secondary  institutions.     The  intent  of  this  document  is  not  to  prescribe  specific  features  of  an  accounting  education  program,   but  rather  to  serve  as  a  set  of  guidelines,  with  illustrative  examples,  to  assist  in  the  initial  design  and   continuous  improvement  of  the  PEP.  The  ultimate  goal  of  this  document  is  to  support  educational   practices  that  will  provide  aspiring  CPAs  with  effective  learning  experiences  and  demonstrate  a   commitment  to  excellence  for  professional  accounting  education  in  Canada.  

Fink’s  Educational  Design  Model   The  educational  design  model  shown  in  Exhibit  1  is  drawn  from  the  work  of  Fink  (2003).  Implementation   of  the  model  relies  on  an  in-­‐depth  analysis  to  identify  factors  relevant  to  the  educational  situation,  as   shown  at  the  bottom  of  the  exhibit.  Relevant  situational  factors  include  the  instructional  context,   expectations  of  students  and  other  key  stakeholders,  student  characteristics,  and  characteristics  of  the   delivery  system.     The  next  three  sections  of  this  document  describe  the  three  key  components  of  the  model:  significant   learning,  formative  assessment,  and  active  learning.  The  last  section  addresses  the  systematic   integration  of  the  three  components.    


 As  defined  in  The  Chartered  Professional  Accountant  Competency  Map:  Understanding  the  Competencies  a   Candidate  Must  Demonstrate  to  Become  a  CPA,  issued  in  2012.  

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Exhibit  1:  Educational  Design  Model   Adapted  from  Fink  (2003,  p.  127)2                                     Teaching       and  Learning     Activities                                      

Significant   Learning  

CPA  Competency   Map  

Feedback  and   Assessment  

Active   Learning  

Formative   Assessment  


In-­‐Depth  Situational  Analysis  


 Fink’s  model  is  also  available  in  an  online  document  titled,  A  Self-­‐Directed  Guide  to  Designing  Courses  for   Significant  Learning,  available  from  Dee  Fink  &  Associates  at  

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Significant  Learning   The  first  major  component  of  the  educational  design  model  in  Exhibit  1  consists  of  the  learning  goals  for   the  PEP,  which  are  specified  in  the  CPA  Competency  Map  (hereafter  referred  to  as  “CPA  map”).3  The  CPA   map  details  six  technical  competencies  and  five  enabling  competencies,  as  well  as  specific  proficiency   levels  for  each  competency.  During  the  PEP,  candidates  need  to  undergo  what  Fink  refers  to  as   significant  learning,  which  will  enable  them  to  successfully  pursue  any  professional  accounting  role  or   position.       To  achieve  significant  learning,  the  program  should  focus  on  more  than  understanding  and   remembering  technical  knowledge;  it  should  emphasize  the  enabling  competencies  (i.e.,  the   professional  skills  that  are  essential  to  the  CPA  profession).  Accordingly,  the  enabling  competencies  are   expected  to  be  integrated  with  technical  competencies  throughout  the  program.     The  significant  learning  goals  shown  in  Exhibit  2  are  adapted  from  Fink’s  (2003,  p.  30)  taxonomy  of   significant  learning  and  the  CPA  map.  Learning  goals  that  enable  professional  competencies  for   candidates  in  the  PEP  include  three  cognitive  goals,  as  specified  in  the  CPA  map,  plus  three  additional   goals.  


 The  Chartered  Professional  Accountant  Competency  Map:  Understanding  the  Competencies  a  Candidate  Must   Demonstrate  to  Become  a  CPA,  issued  in  2012.  

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Exhibit  2:  Significant  Learning  Goals    


Cognitive  Goals   Three  cognitive  goals  are  defined  in  the  CPA  map,  based  on  the  cognitive  system  in  Marzano  and  Kendall   (2007).4  These  goals  are  most  closely  related  to  the  Problem-­‐Solving  and  Decision-­‐Making  enabling   competency  in  the  CPA  map,  but  they  also  affect  candidate  performance  on  all  of  the  technical  and   enabling  competencies.  Candidates  are  likely  to  begin  the  PEP  with  relatively  weak  cognitive  skills,   allowing  them  to  demonstrate  sufficient  (i.e.,  Level  A)  proficiency  only  when  addressing  problems  within   a  single  topic  area,  having  little  ambiguity  and  low  complexity.  During  the  PEP,  candidates  are  expected   to  achieve  proficiency  when  addressing  more  complex  problems,  with  deeper  analysis  and  integration   across  multiple  technical  areas.5     Retrieval  and  Comprehension  is  the  lowest  cognitive  level,  and  includes  primarily  the  ability  to  explain,   describe,  and  correctly  apply  technical  knowledge.  Common  verbs  associated  with  this  learning  goal   include:  applies,  calculates,  classifies,  describes,  explains,  reconciles,  records,  and  uses.6                                                                                                                               4

 Marzano  and  Kendall  provide  an  updated  version  of  the  well-­‐known  Bloom’s  Taxonomy.    Most  candidates  with  an  undergraduate  accounting  degree  are  probably  capable  of  Level  B  proficiency  for   enabling  competencies,  but  if  their  prior  accounting  courses  focused  primarily  on  technical  competencies,  they   might  not  have  adequately  developed  this  ability.  Furthermore,  the  transition  from  Level  B  to  the  Level  A   proficiency  (required  for  successful  completion  of  the  PEP)  is  likely  to  occur  slowly  for  most  candidates.  Higher   levels  of  CPA  proficiency  for  enabling  competencies  correspond  to  higher  levels  of  cognitive  development.  Further   information  about  accounting  student  cognitive  development  can  be  found  in  Wolcott  (2011)  and  Wolcott  and   Lynch  (2002).   6  CPA  map,  p.  85,  with  definitions  on  pp.  93-­‐94.   5

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Analysis  is  the  next  higher  cognitive  level,  and  includes  many  reasoning  skills,  including:  identification  of   problems;  identification,  selection,  and  application  of  analysis  techniques;  and  interpretation  of   quantitative  and  qualitative  information.  Analysis  includes  making  logical  connections  and  integrating   different  pieces  of  information  and  diverse  perspectives  in  ambiguous  situations.  Common  verbs   associated  with  this  learning  goal  include:  analyzes,  compares,  detects,  discusses,  distinguishes,   estimates,  examines,  identifies,  incorporates,  integrates,  interprets,  performs,  predicts,  prepares,   recognizes,  researches,  and  understands.7     Utilization  of  Knowledge  is  the  highest  cognitive  level,  and  includes  establishing  and  using  criteria  to   reach  conclusions  or  make  recommendations,  often  involving  trade-­‐offs  among  competing  priorities.   Common  verbs  associated  with  this  learning  goal  include:  advises,  assesses,  concludes/  draws   conclusions,  creates,  designs,  determines,  develops,  documents  results,  drafts,  ensures,  evaluates,   formulates,  justifies,  maintains,  manages,  monitors,  plans,  prioritizes,  provides  advice/input,  provides   insight,  recommends,  resolves,  reviews,  selects,  and  suggests.8  

Learning  How  to  Learn   Learning  how  to  learn  includes  the  ability  to  perform  well  as  a  student  and,  more  importantly,  to   continue  to  learn  as  a  CPA  professional.  Although  candidates  have  already  completed  an  undergraduate   education  requiring  use  of  learning  skills,  they  might  have  little  experience  with  higher  cognitive  levels,   especially  in  ambiguous  situations.  Thus,  candidates  may  need  to  adopt  new  learning  approaches  in  the   PEP.  This  learning  goal  is  most  closely  related  to  the  Self-­‐Management  enabling  competency,  but  it  also   influences  learning  for  all  of  the  technical  and  enabling  competencies  in  the  CPA  map.  

Motivation  and  Values   Motivation  and  values  influence  candidates’  attitudes,  priorities,  and  actions.  It  is  not  sufficient  for   candidates  to  exhibit  knowledge  of  professional  codes  of  conduct;  they  are  expected  to  adopt  the   characteristics  of  a  CPA,  including  the  ability  to  act  with  honesty,  integrity,  credibility,  self-­‐confidence,   and  independence,  while  coping  with  ambiguity,  conflicts  of  interest,  and  the  need  to  protect  the  public   interest.  They  are  also  expected  to  exemplify  and  enhance  the  reputation  of  the  profession.  This   learning  goal  is  most  closely  related  to  the  Professional  and  Ethical  Behaviour  enabling  competency,  but   it  also  influences  how  candidates  approach  learning  for  all  of  the  competencies  in  the  CPA  map,  and  the   values  and  priorities  they  use  when  analyzing  information  and  making  decisions.  

Learning  About  Others   Learning  about  others  includes  the  ability  to  solicit  information  from,  and  convey  information  to,  other   people,  to  recognize  alternative  viewpoints  and  incorporate  them  into  analyses,  and  to  work  effectively   with  others  in  team  and  leadership  positions.  Candidates  often  have  little  experience  adapting  analyses   and  communications  to  meet  the  needs  of  diverse  audiences,  or  eliciting  the  best  performance  from   others.  This  learning  goal  is  most  closely  related  to  the  Communication,  and  Teamwork  and  Leadership   enabling  competencies,  but  it  also  influences  performance  for  many  of  the  technical  and  enabling   competencies  in  the  CPA  map.    

                                                                                                                          7 8

 CPA  map,  p.  85,  with  definitions  on  pp.  93-­‐94.    CPA  map,  p.  86,  with  definitions  on  pp.  93-­‐94.  

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Formative  Assessment   The  second  major  component  of  the  educational  design  model  in  Exhibit  1  is  feedback  and  assessment.   The  purpose  of  formative  assessment  is  to  enhance  learning  by  providing  feedback  information  that  is   useful  to  candidates  and  educators  (including  online  facilitators,  workshop  session  leaders,  and  program   developers)  during  a  module  and/or  the  program.9  Formative  assessment  might  be  formal  (e.g.,  an   assignment  that  is  turned  in  and  marked)  or  informal  (e.g.,  a  session  leader  randomly  calling  on   candidates  while  debriefing  a  case).  However,  effective  feedback  changes  future  candidate   performance,  which  means  that  the  feedback  must  provide  direction  that  candidates  will  understand   and  use.     Exhibit  3  provides  seven  principles  of  good  feedback  practice  (Juwah  et  al.  2004;  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐ Dick  2006),  reflecting  conceptual  and  empirical  education  research.  The  following  discussions  briefly   explain  each  principle  and  provide  examples  for  possible  consideration  by  the  PEP.10  


 The  formative  assessment  discussed  in  this  document  is  concerned  with  providing  information  to  enhance   learning  within  PEP  modules,  in  contrast  with  the  summative  evaluation  that  will  occur  at  the  end  of  each  module   and  at  the  end  of  the  program.  In  the  CPA  program,  summative  evaluations  are  created  outside  of  the  PEP.   10  Additional  resources  on  providing  effective  feedback  include  Ambrose  et  al.  (2010),  Angelo  and  Cross  (1993),   Race  (2010),  and  Svinicki  and  McKeachie  (2011,  Chapter  9).  

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Exhibit  3:  Seven  Principles  of  Good  Feedback  Practice   Adapted  from  Juwah  et  al.  (2004)  and  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick  (2006)     Clarify  Good   Performance   Provide   Informahon   for  Teaching  

Provide   Opportunihes   to  Close  Gaps  

Facilitate  Self-­‐ Assessment  

Principles   of  Good   Feedback  

Encourage   Posihve   Mohvahon  

Deliver  High-­‐ Quality   Informahon  

Encourage   Teacher  &   Peer  Dialogue  



Clarify  What  Good  Performance  Is  (Goals,  Criteria,  Expected  Standards)   Learning  is  enhanced  when  candidates  and  educators  have  a  clear  and  mutual  understanding  of   educational  goals,  the  criteria  against  which  performance  will  be  measured,  and  the  standards  of   performance.  Although  the  CPA  map  provides  considerable  details,  differences  in  interpretations  of  the   competency  descriptions  and  proficiency  levels  can  lead  to  confusion  and  impede  learning.  In  addition,   candidates’  competency  weaknesses  can  impair  their  ability  to  understand  criteria/standards  and  cause   them  to  inappropriately  discount  competencies  (such  as  enabling  skills)  with  which  they  have  less   experience.  Thus,  one  goal  is  to  increase  the  likelihood  that  feedback  is  understood  and  can  be  acted   upon.  The  following  ideas  for  formative  feedback  are  adapted  from  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick  (2006):     • Use  carefully-­‐constructed  rubrics  or  other  statements  to  describe  criteria/standards  and   define  different  levels  of  performance   • Provide  candidates  with  exemplars  as  models  of  strong  performance   • Hold  discussions  and/or  have  candidates  reflect  about  criteria/standards  before   assignments  are  completed   • Have  candidates  evaluate  peers’  work,  using  specific  criteria/standards   • Involve  candidates  in  a  workshop  to  establish  assessment  criteria  

Facilitate  Self-­Assessment  (Reflection)  in  Learning   Structured  self-­‐assessment  (or  reflection)  activities  in  which  candidates  identify  and  apply   criteria/standards  can  improve  self-­‐management  skills  and  performance.  The  following  ideas  for   formative  feedback  are  adapted  from  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick  (2006):     Page  8  of  19   Educational  Design  for  CPA  Competencies  

• • • • • • • • •

Provide  candidates  with  training  and  opportunities  to  practice  self-­‐assessment   Ask  candidates  to  identify  standards/criteria  that  will  apply  to  their  work   Ask  candidates  to  judge  how  their  work  relates  to  the  standards/criteria   Have  candidates  evaluate  and  provide  feedback  on  each  other’s  work  (peer  evaluation)   Create  frequent  opportunities  for  candidates  to  reflect  on  their  work   When  they  submit  work,  have  candidates  request  the  kinds  of  feedback  they  would  like   Have  candidates  identify  the  strengths  and  weaknesses  in  their  own  work  in  relation  to   criteria/standards  before  handing  it  in   Have  candidates  reflect  on  their  achievements,  and  compile  and  reflect  upon  selected  work   in  a  portfolio   Have  candidates  establish  achievement  milestones,  reflect  on  their  progress,  and  plan  their   future  action  

Deliver  High-­Quality  Information  to  Candidates  About  Their  Learning   High-­‐quality  feedback  helps  candidates  identify,  and  take  actions  to  reduce,  weaknesses  in  their   performance.  Feedback  from  a  teacher  (e.g.,  PEP  online  facilitator  or  workshop  session  leader)  can  be   especially  helpful  for  correcting  candidates’  misunderstandings  of  competencies,  criteria,  and  standards.   The  following  ideas  for  high-­‐quality,  formative  feedback  are  adapted  from  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick   (2006):11   • Relate  feedback  to  competencies,  criteria,  and  performance  standards   • Provide  explanations  to  help  candidates  understand  competencies,  criteria,  and   performance  standards   • Avoid  providing  so  many  criteria  (e.g.,  via  a  grading  sheet)  that  candidates  see  assignments   as  a  list  of  “to  dos”  rather  than  as  a  holistic  process   • Provide  a  small  number  of  highly  relevant  comments,  to  increase  the  likelihood  that   candidates  use  the  feedback   • Provide  comments  that  describe  how  written  work  comes  across  to  the  reader,  to  help   candidates  recognize  differences  between  their  intentions  and  the  effects  of  their  writing   • Provide  corrective  advice  in  addition  to  strengths  and  weaknesses   • Provide  feedback  frequently,  to  enable  better  self-­‐management   • Provide  timely  feedback  (shortly  after  submission  or  before  submission)   • Prioritize  areas  for  candidate  improvement   • Direct  candidates  to  higher-­‐order  learning  goals   • Provide  feedback  that  is  developmentally  appropriate  (e.g.,  one  cognitive  level  higher  than   current  performance)   • Provide  online  assessments  that  candidates  can  access  any  time,  and  multiple  times  


 Also  see  Phillips  and  Wolcott  (2013)  and  Wolcott  and  Phillips  (2012)  for  literature  reviews  and  evidence  about   student  responses  to  feedback  on  an  accounting  case  assignment.  

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  Encourage  Teacher  and  Peer  Dialogue  Around  Learning   Dialogue  with  teachers  (PEP  online  facilitators  or  workshop  session  leaders)  and  peers  can  help   candidates  better  understand  assignments,  aspects  of  their  performance,  or  feedback,  thus  helping   them  take  action  to  improve  future  performance.  Peer  feedback  can  also  expose  candidates  to   alternative  approaches  and  help  them  become  more  objective  when  performing  self-­‐evaluations.  The   following  ideas  for  formative  feedback  are  adapted  from  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick  (2006):     • Give  candidates  opportunities  to  discuss  feedback  with  the  facilitator  or  session  leader   • Have  candidates  respond  to  feedback  and  engage  in  continuing  dialogue   • Structure  small  group  discussions  about  feedback  (after  providing  written  feedback);  in  pairs   or  small  groups,  have  candidates  explain  feedback  and/or  concepts  to  each  other   • Have  peers  suggest  strategies  for  responding  to  feedback   • Have  peers  provide  feedback  to  allow  for  revision  before  submission   • Have  candidates  peer-­‐evaluate  each  other’s  work  in  relation  to  published  criteria   • Ask  candidates  to  find  one  or  two  examples  of  feedback  comments  that  they  found  useful,   and  explain  how  they  helped   • Have  candidates  perform  work  in  groups,  with  candidates  discussing  criteria  and  standards   before  the  project  begins  

Encourage  Positive  Motivational  Beliefs  and  Self-­Esteem   Candidate  motivation  for  learning  influences  their  ability  to  learn  from  feedback  and  to  commit  to  self-­‐ management.  Thus,  feedback  should  steer  candidate  attention  toward  goals  for  learning  or   performance.  The  following  ideas  for  formative  feedback  are  adapted  from  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick   (2006):     • Provide  candidates  with  feedback  and  NO  marks  (instead  of  marks  alone  or  marks  with   feedback),  to  encourage  them  to  focus  on  learning  goals  instead  of  marks   • Provide  marks  on  written  work  only  after  candidates  have  responded  to  feedback   comments   • Provide  feedback  that  focuses  on  learning  goals   • Praise  effort  and  strategic  behaviors  rather  than  ability  or  intelligence   • Focus  feedback  on  the  task  rather  than  on  factors  that  affect  self-­‐esteem   • Help  candidates  understand  that  the  feedback  is  an  evaluation  of  performance  rather  than   an  evaluation  of  the  person   • Increase  the  number  of  low-­‐stakes  assessments,  to  enhance  motivation  and  self-­‐esteem   • Allocate  time  for  candidates  to  rewrite  selected  pieces  of  work,  to  help  change  their   expectations  about  purpose  and  learning  goals   • Use  automated  testing  with  feedback  (e.g.,  clickers  during  workshops;  electronic  feedback   online)   • Have  candidates  submit  drafts  and/or  make  resubmissions  

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  Provide  Opportunities  to  Close  the  Gap  Between  Current  and  Desired   Performance   Candidates  need  opportunities  to  revise  their  work  (or  to  perform  repeated,  similar  assignments)  so  that   they  can  explicitly  close  gaps  between  current  and  desired  performance.  The  following  ideas  for   formative  feedback  are  adapted  from  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick  (2006):     • Use  feedback  to  support  candidates  while  engaged  in  their  work   • Help  candidates  recognize  the  next  steps  in  learning,  and  how  to  take  them   • Build  feedback  into  a  task  (e.g.,  a  group  task  with  peer  interaction,  or  a  computer   simulation)   • Break  a  task  down  into  components,  with  feedback  on  each  component   • Provide  candidates  with  opportunities  to  repeat  the  same  cycle  of  task  and  feedback  (e.g.,   by  allowing  resubmission)   • Place  more  emphasis  on  providing  feedback  on  work-­‐in-­‐progress  (e.g.,  structures  for  memos   or  plans  for  reports),  to  encourage  candidates  to  plan  the  strategies  they  might  use  to   improve  subsequent  work   • Model  for  candidates  the  strategies  an  expert  would  use  to  close  a  performance  gap   • Explicitly  provide  “action  points”  alongside  feedback   • In  groups,  have  candidates  identify  their  own  action  points  

Provide  Information  to  Help  Shape  Teaching   Teachers  (PEP  online  facilitators,  session  leaders,  and  program  developers)  need  good  information   about  how  candidates  are  progressing  so  that  they  can  provide  candidates  with  useful  feedback  for  the   “next  steps”  in  their  development.  Teachers  also  need  to  review  and  reflect  on  information  about   candidate  difficulties  so  that  they  can  modify  their  teaching  approach.  The  following  ideas  for  formative   feedback  are  adapted  from  Nicol  and  Macfarlane-­‐Dick  (2006):     • Review  and  reflect  on  assessment  feedback  data   • Generate  assessment  data  to  provide  information  about  candidates  (e.g.,  by  setting   assessment  tasks,  questioning  of  candidates,  and  observing  behavior  such  as  presentations)   • Use  assessment  information  to  uncover  candidates’  difficulties  with  specific  competencies   • Use  one-­‐minute  papers  or  other  classroom  assessment  techniques  (e.g.,  Angelo  and  Cross   1993)   • When  candidates  submit  work,  have  them  request  the  kinds  of  feedback  they  would  like   • When  candidates  submit  work,  have  them  identify  where  they  are  having  difficulties

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Active  Learning   The  third  major  component  of  the  educational  design  model  in  Exhibit  1  is  active  learning.  Development   of  CPA  competencies  requires  use  of  learning  activities  that  will  significantly  impact  candidates’   knowledge  and  skills—i.e.,  that  involve  deep,  active  learning.  Deep  learning  increases  the  ability  of   candidates  to  retain  and  apply  competencies  in  new  situations  and  is  the  opposite  of  surface  learning,  in   which  candidates  focus  on  short-­‐term  memorization  and  recitation.  Active  learning  engages  candidates   in  realistic  work  tasks  and  meaningful  reflection  and  is  the  opposite  of  passive  learning,  such  as  lectures   and  reading,  in  which  candidates  tend  to  focus  on  receiving  information.     The  appropriate  design  of  active  learning  depends  on  the  learning  situation,  including  learner   characteristics.  Considerable  research  indicates  that  adult  learners  gain  knowledge  and  skills  based  on   personal  goals  and  other  characteristics.  Thus,  learning  activities  in  the  PEP  are  more  likely  to  be   effective  if  they  are  tailored  for  candidates’  characteristics.  Exhibit  4  provides  six  core  adult  learning   principles  (Knowles  et  al.  2011),  to  guide  educational  design  for  the  adult  population  of  CPA  candidates.  

Exhibit  4:  Core  Adult  Learning  Principles   Adapted  from  Knowles  et  al.  (2011)    

Need  to   Know   Mohvahon   to  Learn  

Self-­‐ Concept  

Adult   Learning   Principles   Orientahon   to  Learning  

Prior   Experiences   Readiness   to  Learn    

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The  following  discussions  of  each  adult  learning  principle  draw  on  the  concepts  in  Knowles  et  al.  (2011)   and  Mezirow  (1991).12  

Learner’s  Need  to  Know   CPA  candidates  are  more  likely  to  be  actively  engaged  if  they  know  why  a  learning  experience  will  be   useful  to  them.  Although  they  know  that  the  PEP  is  designed  to  develop  CPA  competencies,  candidates   may  be  unaware  of  the  ways  in  which  different  aspects  of  the  competencies  will  matter  to  their  current   and  future  work,  performance  on  summative  evaluations,  learning  later  in  the  program,  and  so  on.13   Candidates  will  more  actively  seek  knowledge  and  skills  if  they  understand  how  learning  activities  will  be   beneficial.  

Self-­Concept  of  the  Learner   Adult  learners  often  resent  learning  experiences  in  which  they  lack  control,  yet  they  are  often   conditioned  by  previous  learning  experiences  to  behave  as  passive  learners.  In  addition,  many  CPA   candidates  may  hold  beliefs  that  strong  performance  should  come  naturally  with  little  effort,  or  that   their  learning  is  primarily  the  responsibility  of  educators.  These  types  of  self-­‐theories  prevent  candidates   from  becoming  self-­‐directed  learners.14  Learning  experiences  can  be  designed  to  reduce  CPA  candidate   reliance  on  educators  and  help  them  make  the  transition  from  passive  learners  to  active,  self-­‐directed   learners.  For  example,  candidates  could  be  asked  to  identify  something  they  would  like  to  be  able  to  do   in  the  future  (beyond  the  general  goal  of  becoming  a  CPA),  identify  the  knowledge  and  skills  they  would   need,  and  then  develop  a  plan  for  acquiring  the  necessary  competency.  In  cooperation  with  their   workplace  mentors,  candidates  might  create  a  learning  agenda  that  can  enhance  candidate  learning  at   work  as  well  as  in  the  PEP.  

Prior  Experiences  of  the  Learner   CPA  candidates  have  diverse  backgrounds,  including  work  experience,  interests,  knowledge,  and  skills.   Thus,  candidates’  needs  may  differ  and  they  may  benefit  from  flexibility  in  learning  activities.  The  PEP   may  also  be  able  to  take  advantage  of  differences  among  candidates’  prior  experiences  to  enhance   group-­‐  and  teamwork-­‐based  learning.  On  the  other  hand,  prior  experiences  can  hinder  learning.   Learning  activities  may  be  needed  to  help  candidates  overcome  ingrained  biases,  habits,  and  mental   models  that  interfere  with  competency  development.  For  example,  when  addressing  a  complex   problem,  many  CPA  candidates  are  likely  to  offer  only  partially-­‐reasoned  conclusions,  and  to  ignore   important  contradictory  information  (Wolcott  2011).  This  pattern  of  thinking  may  become  so   entrenched  that  candidates  may  resist  change,  especially  if  they  believe  their  approach  has  been   sufficient  in  previous  education  or  workplace  situations.  

Readiness  to  Learn   The  CPA  map  is  designed  to  take  into  account  the  idea  that  candidate  readiness  to  learn  will  progress   across  modules  in  the  PEP;  later  modules  will  focus  on  greater  complexity  and  require  higher-­‐level   proficiency.  The  PEP  can  support  candidate  learning  by  ensuring  that  earlier  modules  establish  the   foundational  knowledge  and  skills  needed  to  support  development  of  competencies  in  the  later   modules.  This  is  especially  important  for  competencies  that  rely  on  higher-­‐level  cognitive  skills,  which                                                                                                                             12

 The  core  adult  learning  principles  described  here  provide  research-­‐based  guidance  for  the  types  of  learning   activities  that  are  likely  to  be  effective  for  CPA  candidates.  Other  educational  models  might  also  be  useful,   including  those  in  Ambrose  et  al.  (2010),  Biggs  and  Tang  (2011),  Cullen  et  al.  (2012),  Horton  (2012),  Petty  (2009),   Race  (2010),  Svinicki  (2004),  Tagg  (2003),  and  Taylor  et  al.  (2000).   13  Note:  Summative  assessments  are  created  outside  of  the  PEP.   14  See,  for  example,  Tagg  (2003,  Chapter  6)  and  Svinicki  and  McKeachie  (2011,  Chapter  20).  

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require  time  and  practice  to  develop.15  Readiness  can  also  be  supported  and  promoted  by  exposing   candidates  to  exemplars  of  strong  performance,  use  of  rubrics  pointing  to  future  expectations,  and   other  learning  techniques.  Readiness  can  be  further  supported  by  linking  new  learning  to  the  current   work  needs  of  candidates  (when  possible).  Because  CPA  candidates  are  likely  to  differ  in  their  readiness   to  learn,  they  may  need  differing  amounts  of  direction  and  support.  Assessments  of  candidate   competencies  can  help  program  developers  to  create  learning  experiences  that  are  developmentally   appropriate.  

Orientation  to  Learning   CPA  candidates  are  likely  to  be  more  motivated  when  learning  activities  are  based  on  authentic   situations  perceived  as  relevant  to  their  careers  and  lives.  The  PEP  can  take  advantage  of  this  motivation   because  CPA  competencies  are  most  likely  to  be  developed  in  complex  contexts  that  are  likely  to  be  of   interest  to  candidates—i.e.,  those  involving  solutions  to  practical  problems,  needs  of  internal  or  external   clients,  consideration  of  strategic  priorities,  etc.  The  use  of  interesting  business  problems  can  enhance   candidate  motivation  and,  at  the  same  time,  provide  appropriate  context  for  competency  development.  

Motivation  to  Learn   New  CPA  candidates  are  probably  accustomed  to  learning  situations  in  which  performance  is  driven  by   external  motivators  such  as  marks/grades,  and  they  may  be  transitioning  as  adult  learners  to  greater   reliance  on  internal  motivators,  such  as  a  sense  of  accomplishment  and  self-­‐respect.  However,  this   transition  is  often  hindered  by  barriers  such  as  time  constraints  and  doubts  about  their  ability  to   perform  well  on  the  high-­‐stake  CPA  program  final  evaluation.  The  PEP  can  assist  candidates  in  this   transition  and  encourage  greater  learning  by  explicitly  helping  candidates  achieve  success  (e.g.,  through   progressive  development  of  competencies  across  PEP  modules),  gain  a  sense  of  empowerment  (e.g.,  by   allowing  options  in  the  educational  process),  and  perceive  that  learning  experiences  are  valuable  and   enjoyable.16  

Active  Learning   The  core  adult  learning  principles  discussed  above  suggest  that  CPA  candidates  will  learn  more   effectively  and  efficiently  if  they  are  engaged  in  active  learning.  Based  on  the  description  in  Bonwell  and   Eison  (1991,  p.  2),  active  learning  in  the  PEP  would  entail:     • Involving  candidates  in  more  than  reading  and  listening   • Placing  less  emphasis  on  transmitting  information  and  more  on  developing  candidates’  skills   • Involving  candidates  in  higher-­‐order  thinking  (i.e.,  analysis  and  knowledge  utilization)   • Engaging  candidates  in  activities   • Placing  greater  emphasis  on  candidates’  exploration  of  their  own  attitudes  and  values     Bonwell  and  Eison  (1991,  p.  2)  defined  active  learning  as  ensuring  that  learners  are  “doing  things  and   thinking  about  the  things  they  are  doing.”  As  shown  in  Exhibit  5,  Fink  (2003)  extends  this  idea  by   envisioning  active  learning  as  an  integrated  combination  of  three  elements:  experience  (doing),   reflective  dialogue  (thinking  about  doing),  and  acquisition  of  information  and  ideas.                                                                                                                             15

 Research  suggests  that  candidate  learning  will  vary  primarily  with  stages  of  cognitive  development  (Knowles  et   al.  2011,  p.  226),  so  more  effective  learning  activities  are  likely  to  be  those  that  explicitly  address  and  promote   cognitive  development,  as  described  for  accounting  education  in  Wolcott  (2011).   16  Wlodkowski  (2008,  Chapter  4),  Robinson  (2013,  Chapter  5),  and  Svinicki  and  McKeachie  (2011,  Chapter  11)   provide  more  information  about  adult  motivation  to  learn,  along  with  instructional  implications  and  suggestions.  

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Exhibit  5:  Holistic  View  of  Active  Learning   Adapted  from  Fink  (2003,  p.  107)    


Informahon   &  Ideas  

Reflechve   Dialogue    

Experience   The  first  element  of  active  learning  in  Exhibit  5  is  experience,  which  refers  to  the  type  and  degree  of   action  in  which  candidates  are  engaged.  Candidates  might  be  directly  or  indirectly  involved  in   experiences  that  include  observing  or  doing.  For  example:     Indirectly  observing   Viewing  a  video  of  an  expert  describing  the  thought  process  used  in  an   analysis   Directly  observing  

Watching  a  seasoned  professional  present  the  recommendations  from   analyses  to  management  

Indirectly  doing  

Preparing  a  hypothetical  analysis  

Directly  doing  

Performing  an  analysis  in  a  work  situation  

  Candidates  should  be  engaged  in  rich  learning  experiences,  which  simultaneously  address  several   learning  goals  (Fink  2003).17  Examples  include  role  playing,  simulations,  and  authentic  projects.18   Additional  possible  types  of  learning  experiences  that  might  be  used  in  the  PEP  are  too  numerous  to   identify  in  this  document.  Useful  resources  with  ideas  that  might  be  particularly  useful  for  the  PEP   include  Barkley  (2010),  Barkley  et  al.  (2005),  Biggs  and  Tang  (2011),  Buskist  and  Groccia  (2011),  Clark  and   Mayer  (2011),  Finkel  (2000),  Horton  (2012),  Petty  (2009),  Svinicki  and  McKeachie  (2011),  West  and  West   (2009),  and  Wlodkowski  (2008).                                                                                                                             17

 As  discussed  earlier,  the  significant  learning  goals  relevant  to  CPA  competencies  in  Exhibit  2  include  three   cognitive  goals  (retrieval  and  comprehension,  analysis,  and  knowledge  utilization),  plus  goals  for  learning  how  to   learn,  motivation  and  values,  and  learning  about  others.   18  Authentic  projects  are  similar  to  the  projects  that  candidates  are  likely  to  experience  in  the  workplace  as  an   entry-­‐level  CPA.  

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Reflective  Dialogue   The  second  element  of  active  learning  in  Exhibit  5  is  reflective  dialogue,  in  which  candidates  reflect  on   their  learning  experiences.  Reflection  may  be  done  individually  (e.g.,  via  one-­‐minute  papers,  journals,  or   learning  portfolios)  or  may  involve  others  (e.g.,  discussions  with  peers,  online  facilitators,  workshop   session  leaders,  or  workplace  mentors).  In  addition  to  reflection  about  learning  content  (e.g.,  technical   knowledge  and  its  application),  candidates  may  reflect  on  their  learning  processes  (e.g.,  “Where  did  I   have  the  most  difficulty?”).  CPA  candidates,  PEP  online  facilitators  and  session  leaders,  and  candidate   workplace  mentors  may  be  uncomfortable  with,  or  have  little  experience,  engaging  in  meaningful   reflective  dialogue,  so  it  may  be  necessary  to  provide  considerable  reflection  structure  and  guidance,   and  to  expect  reflection  skills  to  develop  over  time.19  

Information  and  Ideas   The  last  element  of  active  learning  in  Exhibit  5  is  the  acquisition  of  key  information  and  ideas  (i.e.,   learning  content).  In  the  PEP,  information  and  ideas  may  be  acquired  online  or  in  workshop  sessions.  To   free  workshop  session  time  for  experiential  and  reflective  activities,  learning  content  should  be  acquired   online  when  possible  and  may  take  many  forms,  such  as  text/readings,  videos/screencasts,  email  inquiry   of  an  online  facilitator,  discussions  among  candidates,  and  so  on.  Interactive  methods  (e.g.,  text  or   screencasts  with  embedded  quiz  questions  that  are  automatically  marked)  can  be  used  to  actively   engage  candidates  as  they  acquire  new  knowledge.  To  develop  research  skills,  candidates  can  be  asked   to  conduct  research  to  locate  relevant  information  in  professional  handbooks  or  other  publications,   relevant  governmental  documents,  business  databases,  etc.  

Overall  Set  of  Learning  Activities   More  effective  learning  strategies  can  be  developed  by  combining  the  three  elements  of  active  learning   in  various  ways.  Examples  of  learning  strategies  that  involve  coherent  sets  of  activities  include  team-­‐ based  learning  (e.g.,  Michaelson  et  al  2008)  and  accelerated  learning  (e.g.,  Meier  2000).  However,  it  is   not  necessary  for  the  PEP  to  adopt  strategies  created  by  others;  the  goal  is  to  engage  candidates  with   experiences,  reflective  dialogue,  and  information  and  ideas  that  efficiently  lead  to  deep  learning  of  CPA   competencies.    


 Useful  resources  on  reflective  dialogue  include  Bolton  (2010)  and  Petty  (2009,  Chapter  15).  

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Integrated  Educational  Design   While  developing  individual  aspects  of  the  PEP,  it  can  be  easy  to  lose  sight  of  overall  integration.   Throughout  the  process  of  developing  the  modules  and  program,  it  is  critical  to  ensure  that  the  three   components  of  the  educational  design  model  in  Exhibit  1—significant  learning  (i.e.,  CPA  competencies),   active  learning,  and  formative  assessment—are  systematically  integrated.  Each  component  is  most  likely   to  be  aligned  with,  and  supported  by,  the  other  components  if  all  three  are  designed  simultaneously.   This  means  that  formative  assessments  must  be  designed  early  in  the  design  process,  along  with   learning  activities,  so  that  both  assessments  and  learning  activities  are  consistent  with  the  full  range  of   CPA  competencies.  The  overall  design  should  also  ensure  that:     • Situational  factors  are  reflected  in  decisions   • Potential  problems  are  identified  and  addressed   • The  design  adequately  addresses  student  characteristics  and  adult  learning  principles   • Development  of  competencies  is  planned  to  progress  systematically  across  modules  in  the   PEP   • Extraneous  learning  activities  (i.e.,  those  unrelated  to  CPA  competencies)  are  eliminated   • Formative  assessments  exploit  the  principles  of  good  feedback   • Learning  activities  and  formative  assessments  adequately  prepare  students  for  summative   evaluations  (e.g.,  at  the  end  of  each  module,  and  the  CPA  program  final  evaluation)      

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References   Ambrose,  S.  A.,  M.  W.  Bridges,  M.  Di  Pietro,  M.  C.  Lovett,  and  M.  K.  Norman.  2010.  How  Learning  Works:   7  Research-­‐Based  Principles  for  Smart  Teaching.  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Angelo,  T.  A.,  and  K.  P.  Cross.  1993.  Classroom  Assessment  Techniques:  A  Handbook  for  College  Teachers   (2e).  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Barkley,  E.  F.  2010.  Student  Engagement  Techniques:  A  Handbook  for  College  Faculty.  San  Francisco:   Jossey-­‐Bass.   Barkley,  E.  F.,  K.  P.  Cross,  and  C.  H.  Major.  2005.  Collaborative  Learning  Techniques:  A  Handbook  for   College  Faculty.  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Biggs,  J.,  and  C.  Tang.  2011.  Teaching  for  Quality  Learning  at  University  (4e).  Maidenhead:  Society  for   Research  into  Higher  Education  and  Open  University  Press.   Bolton,  G.  2010.  Reflective  Practice:  Writing  and  Professional  Development  (3e).  London:  Sage.   Bonwell,  C.,  and  J.  Eison.  1991.  Active  Learning:  Creating  Excitement  in  the  Classroom.  ASHE-­‐ERIC  Higher   Education  Report  No.  1.  Washington  D.C.:  George  Washington  University,  School  of  Education   and  Human  Development.   Buskist,  W.,  and  J.  E.  Groccia  (editors).  2011.  Evidence-­‐Based  Teaching.  New  Directions  for  Teaching  and   Learning  No.  128.  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Clark,  R.  C.,  and  R.  E.  Mayer.  2011.  E-­‐Learning  and  the  Science  of  Instruction:  Proven  Guidelines  for   Consumers  and  Designers  of  Multimedia  Learning  (3e).  San  Francisco:  Pfeiffer.   Cullen,  R.,  M.  Harris,  and  R.  R.  Hill;  M.  Weimer  (consulting  editor).  2012.  The  Learner-­‐Centered   Curriculum:  Design  and  Implementation.  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Fink,  L.  D.  2003.  Creating  Significant  Learning  Experiences:  An  Integrated  Approach  to  Designing  College   Courses.  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Finkel,  D.  L.  2000.  Teaching  with  Your  Mouth  Shut.  Portsmouth,  NH:  Boynton/Cook  Publishers.   Horton,  W.  2012.  E-­‐Learning  by  Design  (2e).  San  Francisco:  Pfeiffer.   Juwah,  C.,  D.  Macfarlane-­‐Dick,  B.  Matthew,  D.  Nicol,  D.  Ross,  and  B.  Smith.  2004.  Enhancing  Student   Learning  Through  Effective  Formative  Feedback.  York:  The  Higher  Education  Academy  (Generic   Centre).  Available  online  at ide.pdf  [Accessed  November  14,  2012].   Knowles,  M.  S.,  E.  F.  Holton,  and  R.  A.  Swanson.  2011.  The  Adult  Learner:  The  Definitive  Classic  in  Adult   Education  and  Human  Resource  Development  (7e).  Oxford:  Elsevier.   Marzano,  R.  J.,  and  J.  S.  Kendall.  2007.  The  New  Taxonomy  of  Educational  Objectives  (2e).  Thousand   Oaks,  CA:  Corwin  Press.   Meier,  D.  2000.  The  Accelerated  Learning  Handbook.  New  York:  McGraw-­‐Hill.   Mezirow,  J.  1991.  Transformative  Dimensions  of  Adult  Learning.  San  Francisco:  Josse-­‐Bass.   Page  18  of  19   Educational  Design  for  CPA  Competencies  

Michaelson,  L.  K.,  M.  Sweet,  and  D.  X.  Parmelee  (editors).  2008.  Team-­‐Based  Learning:  Small-­‐Group   Learning’s  Next  Big  Step.  New  Directions  for  Teaching  and  Learning  No.  116.  San  Francisco:   Jossey-­‐Bass.   Nicol,  D.  J.,  and  D.  Macfarlane-­‐Dick.  2006.  Formative  assessment  and  self-­‐regulated  learning:  A  model   and  seven  principles  of  good  feedback  practice.  Studies  in  Higher  Education  31(2),  199-­‐218.   Petty,  G.  2009.  Evidence-­‐Based  Teaching:  A  Practical  Approach  (2e).  Cheltenham:  Nelson  Thornes.   Phillips,  F.,  and  S.  K.  Wolcott.  2013.  The  Effects  of  Summary  versus  Interspersed  Feedback  on  the  Quality   of  Student  Revisions  to  a  Written  Case  Assignment.  Paper  under  journal  review.   Race,  P.  2010.  Making  Learning  Happen:  A  Guide  for  Post-­‐Compulsory  Education  (2e).  London:  Sage.   Robinson,  O.  2013.  Development  Through  Adulthood:  An  Integrative  Sourcebook.  New  York:  Palgrave   Macmillan.   Svinicki,  M.  D.  2004.  Learning  and  Motivation  in  the  Postsecondary  Classroom.  Bolton,  MA:  Anker   Publishing.   Svinicki,  M.  D.,  and  W.  J.  McKeachie.  2011.  McKeachie’s  Teaching  Tips:  Strategies,  Research,  and  Theory   for  College  and  University  Teachers  (13e).Belmont:  Wadsworth.   Tagg,  J.  2003.  The  Learning  Paradigm  College.  San  Francisco:  Anker  Publishing.   Taylor,  K.,  C.  Marienau,  and  M.  Fiddler.  2000.  Developing  Adult  Learners:  Strategies  for  Teachers  and   Trainers.  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   West,  J.  A.,  and  M.  L.  West.  2009.  Using  Wikis  for  Online  Collaboration:  The  Power  of  the  Read-­‐Write   Web.  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Wlodkowski,  R.  J.  2008.  Enhancing  Adult  Motivation  to  Learn:  A  Comprehensive  Guide  for  Teaching  All   Adults  (3e).  San  Francisco:  Jossey-­‐Bass.   Wolcott,  S.  K.  2011.  Professional  attributes:  Teaching  the  fine  arts  of  being  a  professional  accountant.  In   Leveraging  Change  -­‐-­‐  The  New  Pillars  of  Accounting  Education,  edited  by  Wiecek,  E.  M.,  and  G.   Beal,  58-­‐86.  Toronto,  ON:  The  Canadian  Institute  of  Chartered  Accountants  and  University  of   Toronto.   Wolcott,  S.  K.,  and  C.  L.  Lynch.  2002.  Critical  Thinking:  The  Key  to  Professional  Competencies.  Sarasota,   FL:  American  Accounting  Association.   Wolcott,  S.  K.,  and  F.  Phillips.  2012.  An  Exploration  of  Instructor  Feedback  and  Student  Revisions  on  a   Written  Accounting  Case.  Paper  presented  at  American  Accounting  Association  annual  meeting,   Washington,  D.  C.    

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commitment to excellence for professional accounting education in Canada. ... available in an online document titled, A Self-‐Directed Guide to Designing Courses for .... 11 Also see Phillips and Wolcott (2013) and Wolcott and Phillips (2012) for .... and reading, in which candidates tend to focus on receiving information.

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