Munster Technological University (IRELAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Page: 171 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.0070
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Can professional identity be developed as early as first year of university? Our university has a mandatory professional development module for all first-year students. The objective of this module for Accounting students is to get a better understanding of the Accounting profession. The teaching and learning techniques/assessment methods of this module reflect the valued skills of accounting graduates and the desire for collaboration between academics, practitioners and specialists. Tan and Laswad (2018) state that “a team player with a positive attitude and good communication skills appeared to be the most valued behavioural skill” (p.403). Riley and Simons (2016) find that 79% of practitioners believe that written communication skills are considered in hiring decisions for entry-level accounting graduates. According to Siriwardane and Durden (2014) collaboration is required between accounting educators, practitioners and communication specialists to develop communication skills of accounting graduates.

For this module, students attend IT workshops (to develop Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint skills), Careers workshops (to develop CV writing and presentation skills), a careers’ fair, a series of speakers (to learn about their roles and build knowledge of what accountants do in the workplace) and lectures. There is group presentation on their career path (worth 20%), a report on “What it is to be an accountant?” including preparation of a CV and reflection on one of the guest speakers (worth 30%) and a group project presenting a business plan on a poster (worth 50%).

A questionnaire (using a 5-point Likert scale) was used to ascertain the accounting students’ confidence levels in 6 key areas at two points in time - before and after undertaking “The CIT module”. These 6 areas were preparation of a written report, preparation of a PowerPoint presentations, presentation skills, innovation, team work and knowledge of the accounting profession. Of the 52 students surveyed, 42 students responded to both of the surveys.

This module helps build a sense of belonging with their desired profession. Prior to studying this module 63% of students had a poor or good knowledge of what it is to be an accountant. After studying this module 66% of students had a very good or excellent knowledge of what it is to be an accountant. Prior to studying this module 59% of students reported very poor or poor presentation skills. After studying this module this was only 20%. Similarly, prior to studying this module 32% of students had a very poor or poor ability to prepare presentation. After studying this module this was just 4%. Further research will ascertain if students benefit from this module when applying for and completing work placement in the third year of this programme.

[1] Riley and Simons. 2016. The written communication skills that matter most for accountants. Accounting education (London, England) 25 (3):239-255.
[2] Siriwardane and Durden. 2014. The Communication Skills of Accountants: What we Know and the Gaps in our Knowledge. Accounting education (London, England) 23 (2):119-134.
[3] Tan, and Laswad. 2018. Professional skills required of accountants: what do job advertisements tell us? Accounting education (London, England) 27 (4):403-432.
Professional identity, accounting, first-year.