• General Teaching Ideas

    Use of Note Cards in Class

    Joseph Nicassio, Westmorland County Community College

    I basically print out what should be on the front of the note cards (Questions) and what should be on the back of the note cards (Answers). The handouts are on any items I want the students to remember dealing with the material covered. This actually increases the amount of material I am able to cover during class. I do not have to repeat what I want them to memorize. I state to look at which note card I am currently covering. This is especially useful for students that write slowly and have poor spelling or hearing.

    Use of Treats

    Carolyn Strauch, Crowder College

    At the beginning of every class, I choose four topics that I really want the students to remember. I write on the board and attach a treat (candy) to each topic. I ask the class to explain the topic that was just discussed, the first person who answers correctly, gets the treat.

    Use Games

    Heather Lynch, Ivy Tech Community College

    Include games and fun activities in the classroom. Students need some means of laughing.

    Use of Flashcards

    Pamela Donahue, Northern Essex Community College

    To place the five types of accounts on flash cards with the definition, type of account and its normal balance and back side of the flash card the definition of the three types of financial statements excluding cash flow and the type of accounts that goes on each.

    Use of CNOW

    Penny Hahn

    Use Cengage Now, Pre and Post quiz to prepare for assignments. After 3 chapters, give test. Also set up discussion board in Blackboard for each chapter for student discussions.

    Be Available

    Carol Dutchover, Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell

    Be available. Tell your students what to expect and how long it will take you to respond to communications then answer more quickly. Set online office hours and be there.

    Use Screencast-O-Matic

    Nelly Cintron Lorenzo

    Require a short pre-quiz of the chapter related to the topics to be discussed in the first ten minutes of the class for extra-credit (10 multiple choices - 1.5 extra point) worth

    Extra Class Participation Points

    Submitted by C Bolt, The Citadel

    Class participation points added to quiz grades for excellent comments/insights/solutions

    Work Problems in Class

    Submitted by Kent Utter, Mesa Community College

    Students prefer working problems in class. They say they can watch the powerpoint slides at home.

    Pre-Course Scavenger Hunt

    Submitted by Kathy Crusto Way, Tarrant Community College

    Give a pre-course scavenger hunt the first day of class, pick it up and repeat it at the end of the semester for students to really see how much they have learned by comparing the pre and post exercise.

    Debit or Credit Balance

    Submitted by Susan Seeman, Northeast Community College

    This tip helps beginning students remember whether an account has a debit or credit balance. I use two acronyms: CLR to represent accounts with credit balances and PADE to represent accounts with Debit balances. CLR: the C stands for Credit as well as Capital Stock, the L stands for Liabilities, and the R stands for Revenue and Retained Earnings. PADE: The P stands for Purchases, the A stands for Assets, the D stands for Debit as well as Dividends, and the E stands for Expenses. If you are dealing with a sole proprietorship or partnership, just change the C to Captial and the D to Drawing. Students love this tip and use it frequently in the beginning.

    Guest Speakers

    Submitted by Sara Melendy, Gonzaga University – Spokane, WA

    Students love guest speakers. Try to find people in your local community who are willing to talk about their accounting career, or how things are done at their company. For example, find a local coffee company (students love coffee!) and let them describe what goes into the "cost" of a cup of coffee.

    Engaging Students with Extra Points

    Submitted by Julie Frazier, Dyersburg State Community College

    My students love extra points! I do not curve tests but I give my students the opportunity to earn extra points on the next test by participating. They work in small groups to solve accounting problems and then I draw a name to come work a problem on the board or sympodium for a point. They get the point even if it is done incorrectly because it stimulates conversation. If their name is drawn and they opt out, their name goes back in the pot and they must come up the next time it is drawn and they won't get the point. Once a name is drawn and they come up, it goes into another pot which starts over once everyone has been drawn from the original pot. I give lots of opportunities to earn points on the test but no one can earn more than 10 points on a test and points don't carry over to the next test. The group work helps them figure out how to work the problem before their name is drawn. I also use Turning Point for points or quizzes.


    Submitted by Lori Capra, Northern Essex Community College

    I print and copy slide handouts of the "Example Exercise" exhibits from the PowerPoint for each chapter. This way the student has a copy of the examples in one place.

    Personal Interviews with Accounting Professionals

    Submitted by Nancy Atwater, College of St. Scholastica

    I send students out to the workplace to interview accounting professionals about their careers. It is often an eye-opening experience for students to talk to those "doing the job", even for non-accounting majors.


    Submitted by Susan Wilbanks, Pearl River Community College

    In the classroom, have left half the class be "debit" and the right half be "credit". Describe a general ledger account and have the normal balance students stand. Advance to transactions. i.e. The company paid cash for the utilities. Utilities (credit side stands) Cash (debit side stands) This is also a demo of double entry accounting. This is a visual demo of "balance" in the transaction. For online students, they are requested to get a partner to assist with study and do the same demo.

    In Class Mixers

    Submitted by Steve Everett, Normandale Community College

    Do an ice breaker on Day 1; do ongoing collaborative projects throughout =>experiential.

    Improving Math and Critical Thinking Skills

    Submitted by Dale Walker, Harding University

    Return to using 'practice sets' in accounting and finance classes to improve math skills and put accounting into 'practice'.


    Submitted by Susan Cleary, Northwest Vista College

    After introducing the concept of the accounting equation, I pass out index cards with different assets, liabilities and equity accounts and amounts. Each 5 cards makes up a complete accounting equation. The students have to circulate and find the other 4 cards that make up a balanced accounting equation, introduce themselves and make up a name for their "business".

    Extra Credit Works Like Magic

    Submitted by Suneel Maheshwari, Marshall University

    During the course of the semester, each student has an opportunity to earn a maximum of 15 extra credit points. The student will not be able to earn any extra credit points if he/she does not attend the class. Students keep record of extra-credit points in the following manner: Student's Name, Date, Extra Points, Instructor’s Signature. All information must be filled with a pen. I initial the points every day they earn the points. No over-writing will be accepted. For each of lectures, I have created handouts with multiple choice questions and students are asked to solve the problems. First 10 students to solve the problem right get an extra credit point. It creates an alertness and urgency in students to compete and learn.

    Syllabus Quiz

    Submitted by Albert Fisher, College of Southern Nevada

    I give a Syllabus Quiz at the beginning of each semester. They are graded and the students receive points which are included in their final grade calculation. This avoids any confusion about what will be required in the course.

    Teaching Tool

    Submitted by Scott Wallace, Blue Mt CC

    On two chapter tests, I allow my students a 3x5 index card with any notes that they want for use during the test. It has to be hand written and cannot be shared with others. It is turned in with the test. The point of this is that the student has to synthesize the material down to the card. Many times I have had students say that they did not use their card because they learned the material while making it.

    Product Costing and Variance Analysis

    Submitted by Abbie Gail Parham, Georgia Southern University

    In order to demonstrate product costing I give the students a production cost sheet for Rice Krispy Treats. I have items specified as direct material and direct labor. Overhead is applied based on direct labor time. We discuss all of this in class and groups of students will manufacture a batch of the treats. They are required to compute the total production cost of the batch and the unit product cost. Students are encouraged to bring their products to class the next period. They determine an acceptable selling price based on their cost. We "sell" the products to other members of the class. Later in the semester when we discus cost variance we can compare their actual production costs to the standard cost from the production cost sheet. We assume a job order costing system for this analysis.

    A Better Understanding of Debits and Credits

    Submitted by Harley Sherman, Oakland Community College

    Students seem to get caught up in the terms 'debit' and 'credit'. I feel this issue arises from debit and credit cards. So, we go through an exercise showing where does the phrase, "we will credit your account." come from. And we look at both sides of the transaction, that is the purchaser (student) and the store (seller). Students realize that it is the store's account receivable of the customer that gets credited. And that the purchaser's accounts payable account actually gets debited.

    Separate Quizzes/Tests for Tough Topics

    Submitted by Helen Brubeck, San Jose State University

    Specifically, I have implemented this technique in my introductory courses for bonds payable, and in my intermediate courses for deferred taxes. However it can be used with any topics your students find especially difficult. When students have difficulty with a topic, they need time to absorb it and work through its complexities. No matter how many examples you give/explain, students need to work things out for themselves and focus on that one area. When you give a multiple topic test (as most instructors generally do, due to time constraints) the students' attention is divided amongst the many topics they need to learn. When I am approaching a tough topic, I let the students know that this material will be on a test all by itself. They do not need to worry about anything except this one topic. I find that this eases a bit of stress and helps them focus more clearly. I have had great success using this technique to allow students to absorb the most complex material of a course, far more so than if I treated it as 'simply another topic'.

    Color Accounting Map

    Submitted by Dan King, Shoreline Community College

    I use colors to help students understand the fundamental accounting equation and the mechanics of debits and credits.

    My color accounting map and the use of colors with debits and credits is integrated into an introductory accounting text which can be accessed free at http://www.coursecollege.com/.

    Accounting Software

    Submitted by Yonpae Park, Savannah State University

    Students can learn how to apply the AIS concept via accounting software which can be supplemented with a text for free.

    Learning Activity — Quarterly Financial Calls

    Submitted by Barbara Hartwig, Fox Valley Technical College

    Students choose a publicly held company to follow. The student accesses the quarterly financial conference call and listens to the call. The student writes a 2 page paper regarding the financial health of the company, the changes that were made during the quarter, the outlook for the next quarter and summarizes the question and answer period during the call. This exercise gives students a look into the real world of corporations and how they are ultimately accountable to the public.

    Writing Across the Curriculum

    Submitted by Marc I, Lebow, Hampton University

    I am a firm advocate to having the students explain accounting concepts in written format.

    Online Class Manageability

    Submitted by Karen L. McGuire, Northwood University - MI

    First, I feel that it is imperative that every online educator be certified for online teaching. In addition to this, every online educator must have taken at least one online class for a grade themselves. In meeting both of these conditions, the educator will be familiar with the online Learning Management System teaching options as well as having experienced what it is like to be an online learner. Manageability is key! Think about how your content area can best be delivered online and how best to assist the students in being successful with their learning. Don't assign work that uses LMS options just for the sake of having a lot of bells and whistles in the class format. Then, of course, one needs to determine the best way to assess the student learning. Online students typically are nontraditional students with many responsibilities on their plates and each of these responsibilities is competing for their time. Make the learning manageable and in so doing, one will make it manageable for the instructor as well.

    Using PowerPoint® Slides for Lecture and Students

    Submitted by Ginger Dennis, West Georgia Technical College

    I utilize the publisher's PowerPoint® slides in my classroom. I type notes in the notes section of each PowerPoint® slide. As we get to the example exercises we go over these. I have the exercises that are at the back of the chapter that coincide with the learning objective typed in the notes section at the end of each objective. We stop and I go over some exercises and then have the students do some on their own. They hear and see the materials as I go through them and then they actually do similar exercises. I post the PowerPoint® slides in Angel and the students utilize these for studying. I find this helps the students tremendously.

    The Accounting Equation

    Submitted by Sanford R. Kahn, University of Cincinnati

    I use the accounting equation as expanded to include revenues and expenses to explain each transaction regardless of the course level. By having the students explain a transaction in terms of the accounting equation they are able to understand the impact of any transaction on the reported outcome of an organization. Through the use of the equation the students have a non-electronic device that can be used to analyze a journal entry or transaction which gives meaning beyond memorization and a peripheral understanding of what they are doing. I have found that this serves them well in more advanced courses especially with things like the consolidation elimination entries. Because they have used the analysis of transactions through the equation they are better prepared to understand the impact of any transaction without regard to a specific course.

    Plant Tour Visit

    Submitted by Calian Bridgemohan, Lonestar College

    A good idea is to schedule a plant tour of a manufacturing facility for students to get a firsthand look at the stages of manufacturing. This will certainly help with understanding cost and managerial accounting concepts related to inventories, cost of goods sold, and finished goods inventory. It will also help in recognizing concepts like JIT, MOH, Indirect Costs, FIFO, LIFO, Process Costing, Job Costing and other related written concepts.

    Financial Accounting Practice

    Submitted by Jennifer Malfitano, Delaware County Community College

    I set a timer when I begin the class, and the time varies. When the timer goes off, we drop everything and I give the class a quick review problem from the previous chapter. Takes about 5 minutes.

    Helping Students Understand

    Submitted by Young K. Kim, Pacific States University

    Giving an assignment to students following this order: First, memorize chapter title. Second, memorize definition of key terms in the chapter. Third, read the chapter contents. Fourth, solve exercise questions of the chapter. Fifth, read again the chapter contents. Sixth, summarize the chapter in his/her own way.

    Using Skype for Better Interactivity

    Submitted by Linda Bressler, University of Houston-Downtown

    Many times, students even in traditional courses think they have grasped a concept, but find when they are studying or completing homework, they need help. To deal with this problem, and also for hybrid and online courses, I allocate some of my office hours in the evenings and weekends and utilize Skype (video conferencing) software so students can more easily understand a concept while directly interacting with the faculty member. Groups can interact at the same time (to deal with group conflict) as well as individual students sometimes too afraid to ask in class or work so many hours they are only available on weekends or evenings.

    What's in a name?

    Submitted by Steve Markoff, Montclair State University

    Take the time to get to know your students both individually as people and in their role as students. A great way to start this type of relationship is by knowing their names immediately and not by reading off a name card. And remember them after they are no longer in your class.

    How to Get the Most out of Accounting Students

    Submitted by Khiem Tim Tran, Concordia University

    First, I explain the accounting concepts and the key points of the chapter. Next, I assign a major problem as the homework to be submitted at the beginning of the next class for grade. After collecting the assignment, I proceed to solve the homework problem. It has been my experience that those students who worked on the problem attain a much better understanding than those who did not. Lastly, I would be very generous in grading this type of assignment.

    Getting Groups to Work Together

    Submitted by Deirdre Collier, Fairleigh Dickinson University

    I break classes into groups of about 4, mixing strong and weak students, and have them work on problems. I like to use a very complex problem that can be broken down into parts with different groups doing different parts. Each group is responsible for showing the solution to the class on a board. (I walk around helping groups).

    Study and Preparation Guide

    Submitted by Barbara Pugh, Baker College of Allen Park

    Each week I prepare a three panel brochure entitled "Study and Preparation Guide Chapter XX" The face of the brochure has the Chapter Title and some form of clip art related to the topic. Inside the brochure I list the specific chapter reading assignment, Exam Prep - Key Points, How To Study Accounting (helpful hints), Homework Assignment for the week and important deadlines for project submissions, information related to Improving Academic Performance, Improving Your Reading, and Improving Test-Taking Strategies. This brochure is sent to the class via e-mail approximately 4 days prior to the next class meeting. The students seem to love it. It's a one stop shop for preparing for each week's class.

    YouTube Videos

    Submitted by Jennifer Sneed, Arkansas State University - Newport

    I require weekly discussion through our portal. This semester I've started embedding YouTube videos that are relevant to the material we are covering that week. It makes it easy for the students to watch the 2-5 minute video and post their thoughts right there.

    Using Personal Information

    Submitted by Stephanie, LSU-Eunice

    When teaching difficult topics I ask students to bring in personal examples. For example: when teaching cash management and bank reconciliations I give time in class to reconcile personal statements.

    Assessment of Learning Objectives

    Submitted by Stephanie, LSU-Eunice

    When teaching difficult topics I ask students to bring in personal examples. For example: when teaching cash management and bank reconciliations I give time in class to reconcile personal statements.

    Using SoftChalk Software

    Submitted by Linda Muren, Cuyahoga Community College

    I use the SoftChalk software to create exercises that allow a student to practice knowledge or key chapter concepts. Usually the card deck enables the student to classify/sort accounts or drag & drop, matching activities. It is accessible at softchalkconnect.com for free.

    Accounting Equation Mnemonic

    Submitted by Tammie A Miller, Prince George's Community College

    The accounting equation is Assets = Liabilities + Owner's Equity (A = L + OE).
    OE has 4 components:

    • C – Capital
    • R – Revenue
    • E – Expenses
    • W – Withdrawals
    The mnemonic, ALOE CREW, helps students remember the accounting equation and the 4 components of Owner's Equity.


    Accounting Concepts and Music

    Submitted by Deb, Notre Dame High School

    As a review for accounting concepts, students in groups no larger than 3 have to come up with a "rap" or song or poem about either one of the accounting concepts or some fact we have already learned. It's very interesting to see those accounting students who are solid students have to push themselves by incorporating music and then presenting it. I supply a rhyming dictionary and video tape the presentations. Try it, it's fun.

    Incorporating Hands-On Activities into PowerPoint Presentations

    Submitted by April Mohr, CPA, Jefferson Community and Technical College, SW Campus.


    Within each of my PowerPoint lectures, I have created slides with questions and answers (separate slides for each) whereby the student is asked to complete short exercises. Examples of some of these short exercises include: computing amounts for journal entries; preparing the actual journal entries; computing the amounts for depreciation; computing the amounts and journal entries for bond issues; computing the amounts for process costing; etc.

    Immediately following the introduction of a new topic within the PowerPoint presentation, on the next slide, the student is asked to complete a similar, short exercise related to the new material. While they are working on the exercise, I walk around the room while to make sure they are on-topic and are completing it successfully. I then present the answer in the next PowerPoint slide. These question and answer slides are interspersed throughout each lecture so students are actively participating throughout the lecture. At the end of class students turn in their work and I hand out the answers which they can use when completing their homework. Each hands-on assignment is worth only three points but the students really value these points.


    Studies have proven that students learn best by doing, so I have incorporated hands-on activities within each of my PowerPoint lectures. I concentrate heavily on presenting the more difficult material in class and only lightly cover (or do not cover at all) the definition-type concepts which students should be able to easily learn themselves. My goal for this idea was two-fold. One was to make sure that students were in class during the days that I lectured. To accomplish this objective, extra credit points are only available to students who are in class during the days that I lecture. My second goal was to help students learn the material so they would be able to complete their homework assignments with more confidence and the skills needed to be successful.

    I have found that it definitely helps to keep students alert during the lectures and has prevented the glazed over (or falling asleep) look which I have previously experienced with some students. More students are now coming to class on lecture days, and since they have actually participated during the lecture, they are better equipped to complete their homework assignments. Incorporating these hands-on activities into my PowerPoint presentations has worked tremendously well.

    Introduction to the Accounting Profession

    Submitted by Traci Nobles, Austin Community College


    This project was developed to provide an exciting way of introducing the profession of accounting and the standard setting process. The students complete a scavenger hunt on the web and I usually provide a prize to the group that completes the scavenger hunt first with the correct answers.

    Learning Objectives Included

    • Understand the importance of each of the following organizations: FASB, IASB, and SEC
    • Be able to state the head of each of the organizations
    • Understand the importance of GAAP
    • Be familiar with the associated organization's websites


    I usually assign this short project on the first day of class. It's a fun way of introducing all of the acronyms that are associated with accounting. It also has the students viewing relevant accounting websites.

    Additional Materials

    Scavenger Hunt questions