Education, and especially accounting education, has been criticised for not delivering
graduates for the work place with the necessary skills and attributes. In an effort to
address this criticism, lecturers incorporate more experiential learning into the
curriculum. However, in a quest to include more experiential learning activities in the
course delivery, lecturing time is reduced, and lecturers have to innovate in order to fit
all the subject/course content into the allotted time. Incorporating technology to extend
the classroom into the digital realm is one way to relieve the pressure of covering
subject/course content. It opens up avenues for a blended or hybrid learning model,
where a carefully considered combination of online and face-to-face teaching and
learning is applied.
Auditing as a discipline poses another challenge to educators. The subject is
perceived by students to be very theoretical, while in fact it is an application subject
which requires critical thinking and professional judgment. Students incur difficulties in
comprehending how the theoretical knowledge is applied in practice, which manifests
in them following a superficial approach to mastering the auditing subject matter. In an
effort to breach the gap between theory and practice, various implementations of
experiential learning in auditing, often in a blended learning environment, have been
reported by scholars. However, those studies report the effect of fragmented
interventions and fail to provide a holistic view of the effect of multiple blended learning
interventions. Furthermore, literature on the effect of a blended learning approach
incorporating experiential learning which focuses on learning is limited, and studies
are mainly done in small class settings.
This study aims to expand on the body of knowledge, by reporting on how students
perceived different blended learning elements (flipped classroom, an online simulation
and cooperative learning initiatives), incorporated in the holistic blended learning
model in an auditing module/course, to contribute to their learning and engagement
with the subject matter. Furthermore, the study investigates how the perceived contribution differs between students with different academic performance levels. The
study also determines whether one of the blended learning elements (an online
simulation) was perceived by students to be useful, easy to use and influenced their
emotional perception (affect) of the learning experience. In order to achieve the
objective of the study, a quantitative research approach was followed, whereby a
custom-developed survey was distributed amongst third year auditing students at the
university where the study was performed.
The findings in this study indicate that respondents perceived weekly tutorials to
contribute highly towards their learning of and engagement with auditing, while the
other flipped classroom elements (videos and lectures) had a moderate contribution.
Respondents perceived the online simulation, and peer feedback and mentoring (TUT
Buddy and the BuddyM) elements to contribute least to their learning and engagement
with the auditing subject matter.
Statistically significant differences were identified between high performing and low
performing students, with regard to the weekly tutorials, the online simulation and the
TUT Buddy and BuddyM elements. Low performing students perceived the online
simulation, the TUT Buddy and BuddyM elements to contribute more to their learning
and engagement, than high performing students. These latter three elements (online
simulation and Buddy activities) included more cooperative learning and were
regarded as student-driven activities. The results also indicate that high performing
students coped well with the blended learning model and exhibited characteristics of
becoming self-directed learners, as they did not require as much support. The low
performing students were more positive about cooperative learning activities. They
also perceived the online simulation to be more useful, easy to use and enjoyed the
experience more, compared to their medium and high performing counterparts. The
results clearly show that students do have preference for specific elements in the
holistic blend. The holistic blend allows room to meet the needs of diverse students
with different learning preferences and it allows students to engage with the auditing
subject matter in a way that meets their preferences, whilst developing additional skills.
Therefore a holistic blended learning model appears to be an acceptable way of
teaching auditing, even in large class settings.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2018.