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ELS session

    Susan K Wolcott
    Rubric for Communication and Critical Thinking in Accounting
    ELS session posted August 2, 2010 by Susan K Wolcott, last edited February 10, 2012 
    1041 Views, 6 Comments
    Rubric for Communication and Critical Thinking in Accounting
    names(s), affiliation(s):
    Susan K. Wolcott, CA School of Business
    August 2, 2010 12:45pm - 2:00pm
    This guide includes a rubric, student resources (including checklists), and examples of assessed papers. These materials are currently being used in a post-bachelor pre-certification program in Western Canada. They could be used in undergraduate- or graduate-level courses. The copyright on these materials allows use and distribution for educational purposes.



    • Dave McCormick


           We have met at several conferences. I am writing to thank you for posting this rubric guide. I am enrolled in a course to develop capability to teach online. This year, I will be making the migration from full-time professional employment to adjunct teaching. This rubric is thorough and provides me with insights in developing a rubric for other classes.

      Thanks, Dave

    • Susan K Wolcott


      It's great to hear that this resource will be useful to you!  Attached are two more files that you might find useful; they are the handouts from a 2009 CTLA concurrent session, "Designing Rubrics to Assess Critical Thinking, Ethical Reasoning, and Communication."  Because I seem to be able to attach only one file per posting, I will create a second posting for the second file.


    • Susan K Wolcott

      Attached is the second file related to my last posting.

    • Robert E Jensen

      Teaching Case
      From The Wall Street Journal Weekly Accounting Review on May 16, 2014

      Studying Philosophy is Good for Business
      by: Marcelo Bucheli and R. Daniel Wadhwani
      May 12, 2014
      Click here to view the full article on

      TOPICS: Accounting Education

      SUMMARY: The article is written by two professors, one at the University of Illinoi, Urbana-Champaign and one at the University of the Pacific. The related article is the original report on changes in MBA programs to which these two professors have responded in this letter to the WSJ editors. The professors focus on market-related benefits of broad thinking capabilities. The related article describes employers' concerns about current teaching methods and focus in business programs.

      CLASSROOM APPLICATION: While the articles focus on MBA programs, questions ask students to consider whether these issues apply in accounting programs. The article may be used in any accounting class.

      1. (Advanced) What do you understand is the meaning of critical thinking?

      2. (Introductory) What concerns are raised in the main and related articles about development of students' critical thinking skills in business programs?

      3. (Advanced) While the two articles are focused on MBA programs, do you feel that your accounting curriculum helps to develop your critical thinking skills? Support your answer.

      4. (Introductory) Refer to the related article. What do employers cite as a problem with the thinking skills of business school graduates?

      5. (Advanced) Could this issue being raised by employers apply to accounting graduates as well as MBAs? Explain.

      Reviewed By: Judy Beckman, University of Rhode Island

      Why Some M.B.A.s Are Reading Plato, Kant
      by Melissa Korn
      May 01, 2014
      Page: B6

      "Studying Philosophy is Good for Business," Marcelo Bucheli and R. Daniel Wadhwani, The Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2014 ---

      Most business-school students are gunning for jobs in banking, consulting or technology. So what are they doing reading Plato?

      The philosophy department is invading the M.B.A. program—at least at a handful of schools where the legacy of the global financial crisis has sparked efforts to train business students to think beyond the bottom line. Courses like "Why Capitalism?" and "Thinking about Thinking," and readings by Marx and Kant, give students a break from Excel spreadsheets and push them to ponder business in a broader context, schools say.

      The courses also address a common complaint of employers, who say recent graduates are trained to solve single problems but often miss the big picture.

      "Nobel Thinking," a new elective at London Business School, explores the origins and influence of economic theories on topics like market efficiency and decision-making by some Nobel Prize winners. The 10-week course—taught by faculty from the school's economics, finance and organizational behavior departments—might not make students the next James Watson or Francis Crick, but it aims to give them a sense of how revolutionary ideas arise.

      "It's important to know why we're doing what we're doing," says Ingrid Marchal-Gérez, a second-year M.B.A. who enrolled in Nobel Thinking to balance her finance and marketing classes. "You can start to understand what idea can have an impact, and how to communicate an idea."

      Students write narrative essays to explain how ideas—such as adverse selection, or what happens when buyers and sellers have access to different information—gain currency. Joao Montez, the economics professor leading Nobel Thinking, says he wants students to reflect, if only for a short while, on world-changing thought.

      Career advancement and salary outrank ideas about world peace and humanity's future for many M.B.A.s, but Dr. Montez says LBS students have requested more opportunities to step back and consider big-picture ideas.

      "You can leave the classroom with these ideas in the back of your mind, and then maybe one day it will be useful," he says.

      That's true to a point: Ms. Marchal-Gérez, 38 years old, says she is somewhat concerned she'll "have a good time, but then what?"

      Abstract ideas remain a hard sell for many M.B.A.s.

      Patricia Márquez, an associate professor of management at the University of San Diego's School of Business Administration and an anthropologist by training, has struggled for nearly 20 years to teach M.B.A.s to dream up business solutions for poverty, her area of scholarly focus. Students, she found, needed a great deal of coaching to apply theories from anthropology and ethnography to the business world.

      She eventually replaced theory-based readings with traditional case studies, though she still tries to conduct discussions on abstract topics, such as how cultural stereotypes stymie innovation.

      "I spent six years thinking about the definition of culture. At a business school, culture can be measured through a survey," she says. "It's so solution-oriented. We don't ask, and we don't let them have space to ask better questions."

      To give students room for questions, Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., introduced "Thinking about Thinking" as a unit in its one-year M.B.A. program last year. Students spend two weeks studying art, reading fiction and even meditating.

      "There's too much emphasis in leadership work on understanding followers," says Duncan Spelman, management department chair and co-instructor. "We're really trying to emphasize understanding the self" to make students effective leaders.

      Mariia Potapkina, a 29-year-old Russia native who plans to work in consulting or strategy after graduation, says the class was "a nonstop, 14-day discovery of yourself." For example, she learned that she became more organized in the face of ambiguity.

      But ambiguity can be unsettling for some. Esteban Hunt, an M.B.A. student who hails from Buenos Aires, recalled a class when an artist presented a piece of artwork and asked students to describe what they saw.

      The variety of interpretations, and the realization that there was no single right answer, left him frustrated, Mr. Hunt says, and produced palpable anxiety among his classmates.

      That's the point, says Dr. Spelman, adding that uncertainty is a reality in life and business.

      Expect more abstract ideas in business schools soon.

      To meet student demand, Copenhagen Business School is expanding its 15-year-old master of science in business administration and philosophy program this year, shifting to English-language instruction from Danish and taking in more international students.

      "The tension between the two words business [and] philosophy appeals to quite a lot of young students," says Kurt Jacobsen, program director and a professor of business history. He says students want to better understand market and business dynamics after the extreme economic upheaval of recent years.

      Continued in article

      Critical Thinking:  Why's It So Hard to Teach
      Go to

    • Robert E Jensen

      Rubrics in Academia ---

      "Assessing, Without Tests," by Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed, February 17, 2016 ---

      Jensen Comment
      Testing becomes more effective for grading and licensing purposes as class sizes increase. It's less effective when hands on experience is a larger part of competency evaluation. For example, in the final stages of competency evaluation in neurosurgery testing becomes less important than expert evaluation of surgeries being performed in operating rooms. I want my brain surgeon to be much more than a good test taker. Testing is more cost effective when assigning academic credit for a MOOC mathematics course taken by over 5,000 students.

      One thing to keep in mind is that testing serves a much larger purpose than grading the amount of learning. Testing is a huge motivator as evidenced by how students work so much harder to learn just prior to being tested.

      Some types of testing are also great integrators of multiple facets of a course. This is one justification of having comprehensive final examinations.

      Testing also can overcome racial, ethnic, and cultural biases. This is the justification, for example, for having licensing examinations like CPA exam examinations, BAR examinations, nursing examinations, etc. be color blind in terms of  race, ethnic, and cultural bias. This is also one of the justifications (good or bad) of taking grading out of the jurisdiction of teachers. Competency examinations also serve a purpose of giving credit for learning no matter of how or where the subject matter is learned. Years ago people could take final examinations at the University of Chicago without ever having attended classes in a course ---

      Bob Jensen's threads on assessment ---


      "Using Rubrics to Assess Accounting Learning Goal Achievement," by Thomas F. Schaefer and Jennifer Sustersic Stevens, Issues in Accounting Education, Volume 31, Issue 1 (February 2016) ---
      Free only to subscribers (including users of campus libraries)

      This paper illustrates the development and use of rubrics to improve the learning assessment process and enhance the teaching-learning relationship. We highlight the multidimensional benefits of rubrics as valuable tools for student assessment (grading), course assessment (at the instructor level), and program assessment (at the administrator/curriculum committee/accreditation level). Moreover, rubrics may improve qualitative feedback on learning to students and instructors. Development of effective rubrics is framed in terms of learning goals, measurable learning outcomes, choice of assessment vehicle/assignment, and use of data collected from rubrics for feedback and/or improvement. The paper then offers an example set of rubrics designed to assess student achievement of three learning goals common to many undergraduate accounting programs: accounting measurement, research, and critical thinking. This paper may prove useful for instructors looking to use rubrics to improve the teaching-learning process and concurrently evaluate learning goal achievement for course or program assessment. As an auxiliary benefit, the use of scoring rubrics may simplify grading, as well as data collection in documenting assurance of learning for accreditation purposes.

      In higher-education institutions, faculty members often are tasked with measuring individual student performance, assuring their students meet established course learning goals, as well as evaluating overall student progress toward a particular program's learning goals. However, instructors often struggle with assessing student learning in an effective and efficient manner. Scoring rubrics represent a valuable tool to enhance the teaching-learning process by providing a systematic approach to measuring learning outcomes, yet very few studies in the accounting literature highlight the benefits of using rubrics or provide guidance in their application.1

      Rubrics—detailed lists of competencies for designated learning outcomes accompanied by levels of performance criteria—can guide assessments at both the student and course level, as well as contribute to a program-level assessment. Moreover, rubrics enhance feedback to students and promote learning (Brookhart 2013; Stevens and Levi 2013). The purpose of this paper is to offer guidance on the development and use of scoring rubrics for classroom and assessment purposes. The paper also provides an example set of scoring rubrics designed to assess student achievement for accounting measurement, research, and critical thinking learning goals.

      Rubrics enrich the teaching-learning process at the student level by enabling a discussion of quality for complex work products. Unlike a traditional assessment system in which the instructor judges quality and assigns a grade, a rubric conveys descriptions of quality and connects how a student's performance falls within those guidelines (Brookhart 2013). This facilitates a more objective, productive conversation regarding a student's progress compared to learning expectations and allows the student to identify his or her own strengths and weaknesses (Suskie 2010). If shared with students when distributing the assignment, then scoring rubrics may also help communicate performance expectations and lead to improved student submissions (McTighe and O'Connor 2005). Moreover, scoring rubrics can help standardize the grading process and provide more reliable, fair, and valid feedback to instructors and students (McTighe and Ferrara 1994).

      At the course level, instructors should consider their educational program's learning goals when developing student assignments. A carefully designed scoring rubric may complement this process by helping the instructor to clarify the purpose of the assignment, as well as to focus on its most important learning objectives (Ammons and Mills 2005). Feedback from the process may persuade instructors to modify instruction, course content, or assignments to improve teaching and enrich learning within the course. In addition, rubrics may facilitate coordination with other course instructors or teaching assistants by creating a more objective, consistent guide for scoring student submissions (Stevens and Levi 2013).

      At the program level, accounting undergraduate and graduate programs routinely assess and document progress toward the achievement of established educational learning goals. In addition, accrediting agencies typically require evidence of student achievement for institution-specific learning goals (Kimmell, Marquette, and Olsen 1998; Stivers, Campbell, and Hermanson 2000; J. Shaftel and T. Shaftel 2007). The development of scoring rubrics may prove useful in constructing assignments to assess specific program learning goals, evaluating progress in meeting learning goals, and facilitating ease of data collection for accreditation or other program evaluations. Scoring rubrics may also help decrease subjectivity in determining when assessments fail to provide evidence of sufficient student learning, so that curricular efforts can be targeted to remedy the deficiency.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on assessment ---


    • Robert E Jensen

      Assessment often gets caught in a tug of war between accountability and improvement.
      The Next Great Hope for Measuring Learning ---

      Jensen Comment
      When it comes to assessment I tend to think of how I want my brain surgeon to be assessed before he sticks something hard and sharp into my gray matter. I guess the accountant in me leans toward accountability.

      Bob Jensen's threads on assessment are at