PRINCIPLES OF ACCOUNTING I LOW STAKES WRITING INITIATIVE The Project took place

Principles of accounting i low stakes writing

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PRINCIPLES OF ACCOUNTING I LOW-STAKES WRITING INITIATIVE The Project took place during the Fall of 2013. The work connected two Principles of Accounting I classes through ePortfolio. ePortfolio is fundamentally about connections: both between students and student to faculty. It is a student-centered tool that allows them to direct and document their learning over time. “The ePortfolio helps LaGuardia students make a direct and powerful connection between their classroom learning and the rest of their changing lives” (Eynon, 2009). We created one ePortfolio where all students completed their work, reviewed each other’s work, and built, strengthened, and developed a community. The use of one ePortfolio streamlined the assignment completion and review process while facilitating the social pedagogy inherent in the Project. Randy Bass and Heidi Elmendorf define social pedagogies as “design approaches for teaching and learning that engage students with what we might call an ‘authentic audience’ (other than the teacher), where the representation of knowledge for an audience is absolutely central to the construction of knowledge in a course” (Bass & Elmendorf, n.d.). In his article, “High Stakes and Low Stakes in Assigning and Responding to Writing,” Peter Elbow describes the benefits of low-stakes writing assignments as being numerous. He suggests that, “when [students] do low-stakes writing their prose is usually livelier, clearer, and more natural—often more interesting in spite of careless mistakes” (Elbow, 1997). Elbow suggests that low-stakes assignments help students “find their own language” to tackle key course concepts, and since they tend to involve less stress, they allow students to write more freely (1997). Finally, Elbow also asserts that low- stakes assignments not only improve the quality of high-stakes writing assignments, but more practically, they force students to keep up with the reading. The goal of the Project was to investigate the outcomes of an active effort to incorporate writing into a Principles of Accounting I course. Thoughtful, careful and purposeful incorporation of writing assignments were coupled with interventions that focused on students identifying the significant impact of sound business writing in the accounting discipline. The Project was structured as eight assignments and one workshop, which students completed over the course of a semester. Each Principles of Accounting I class, consisting of approximately 36 students, was divided into two groups, Group # 1 and Group # 2. The members of each group were then paired across classes. This structure facilitated a student-centric approach, in which we developed and shared assignments but for the most part remained in the background, with dialogue and peer mentoring occurring across and within the classrooms through the use of ePortfolio. The objectives of the initiative were for students to: Explore and strengthen their written communication skills in the context of accounting and business
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