Collat Accounting and Finance, two professors honored by accounting association

By on January 24, 2014
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The University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Accounting and Finance and accounting professors Arline Savage, Ph.D., and Thomas Edmonds, Ph.D., are listed among the best in the world in accounting education research, according to recent rankings released in a forthcoming journal publication by the American Accounting Association.

The Collat School of Business Department of Accounting and Finance is ranked 17th in the Accounting Education Research: Ranking Institutions and Individual Scholars release. The publication also ranks individual accounting researchers based on their production of accounting education research through a six-year period. Savage ranked 17th and Edmonds 41st.

“Our next generation of accountants is fortunate to have tremendous educators who value research and believe it is a necessary classroom tool,” said Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of the Collat School of Business. “Accounting is the largest program in our school and the third-largest undergraduate program at UAB. We have a strong tradition of producing exceptional accounting and finance graduates, and the research elements our faculty bring to the classroom are a key component of that success.”

Savage, who was named chair of the Department of Accounting and Finance this month, believes students perform best when they learn by doing. It gives them a conceptual foundation that enables them to transfer and apply learning into a wide range of real-world accounting problems.

“It’s a tremendous honor, and one I think is recognition that pedagogical research is important for accounting faculty and our students,” said Savage, who also directs Collat’s Master of Accounting program. “By doing the research, we become better teachers, and that only benefits our students.”

One of Savage’s recent research publications, Accounting for the Public Interest: A Revenue Recognition Dilemma, was featured in Issues in Accounting Education, the world’s top accounting education journal. The case illustrates how accounting rules affect the public interest. The setting is a gray area of accounting in which management, the external auditors, the SEC and international accounting standard-setters may have differing opinions about the accounting treatment.

Students consider this scenario in which an accounting rule led to a business and societal problem when drug companies decided to halt making vaccines for the Vaccine for Children Program because of an accounting rule that kept the manufacturers from posting their revenues until the vaccines were disseminated.

“Essentially, a book entry caused an uproar,” Savage said. “It’s just one illustration of how accounting rules affect the general public. Cases like this give the students an opportunity to go back in time and investigate the case and form opinions on who was right and wrong. They use higher-order thinking skills and will be better able to apply course concepts in a real work situation. That’s the goal.”

Edmonds, who retired in 2013, was appointed professor emeritus in June. He joined UAB’s faculty in 1986 and received both the Ellen Gregg Ingalls/UAB National Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award in Teaching and the UAB President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in his tenure.

Edmonds’ most recent publication, Using student response systems in the accounting classroom: Strengths, strategies and limitations, appeared in the Journal of Accounting. The Student Response System, often referred to as a “clicker,” enables students to individually answer instructor questions in real time using individual mobile devices, and have the aggregate responses displayed as feedback to the class at the instructor’s discretion. While SRS devices have been used in education for some time, the perceived adoption rate in accounting classes has been low. Edmonds’ paper is a “how to” and “why” guide for accounting faculty who are considering using the SRS, and for experienced users who seek to refine or expand their SRS use.

Edmonds’ research papers have also appeared in Advances in Accounting Education, Issues in Accounting Education and other publications.

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