As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, educators nationwide found themselves grappling with an ever-changing educational landscape, especially as institutions transitioned to remote and hybrid learning models. In February, Vishal's sales team engaged in discussions with thought leaders from various colleges and universities to gain valuable insights into the challenges faced by educators and students during this unprecedented period.
The panelists included distinguished individuals from academic institutions:
- Tara Blasor, Assistant Department Head at Texas A&M University
- Dr. Susan Henderson, Professor & Program Coordinator at California State University Fresno
- Dr. Tracey Riley, Director of Graduate Programs in Accounting at Suffolk University
This article provides a glimpse into the trends observed in remote learning from accounting faculty and explores how these educators adapted programs and teaching methods to support students during these challenging times. This is Part 1 of a 2-part series delving into the insights shared by Vishal's University Partners.
Impact on Enrollment Numbers
Panelist: Tara Blasor
Tara Blasor, representing Texas A&M University, shed light on the impact of COVID-19 on enrollment numbers in their large accounting program, which sees approximately 250-300 CPA candidates annually. Contrary to the expectation of a pandemic-induced enrollment decline, the decrease in enrollments, around 10-15%, was attributed more to pre-existing trends. Before COVID, there was a shift of students towards finance and banking majors for salary-related reasons.
However, the panelists anticipate a reversal of this trend, foreseeing a potential increase in numbers. The allure of job security in the accounting field, particularly amidst the possibility of a COVID-related recession, is expected to draw students back to this discipline.
Enabling Effective Remote Learning
Panelist: Dr. Susan Henderson
Dr. Susan Henderson, from California State University Fresno, highlighted the critical need for expanded training and resources to facilitate effective remote learning for both students and instructors. The abrupt shift to remote learning at the onset of the pandemic posed significant challenges, with professors having only a week to prepare. However, when there was more time for preparation over the summer, a substantial improvement in student engagement was observed.
Dr. Henderson emphasized the importance of identifying appropriate tools for e-learning and providing training for both instructors and students. The challenge was particularly pronounced in accounting courses, where traditional methods like writing problems on blackboards and gauging understanding through physical presence became impractical. The move to virtual learning necessitated finding supplementary tools to maintain interactive learning experiences.
Impact of CPA Evolution Changes on Curriculum
Panelist: Dr. Susan Henderson
Addressing the impending changes in the CPA Exam, Dr. Henderson expressed that while the curriculum would not undergo a significant overhaul, adjustments would be made to align with the updated CPA Exam Blueprints. Ensuring coverage of new concepts in accounting courses would facilitate a smoother transition for students when they reach the review stage with Vishal.
Dr. Henderson emphasized the importance of incorporating aspects like accounting information systems and data analytics into the curriculum. Staying dynamic in response to technological advancements, which are reshaping the accounting profession, is deemed critical. Instructors aim to prepare students for diverse career paths post-graduation.
Challenges Faced in 2021
Panelist: Dr. Tracey Riley
Dr. Tracey Riley, Director of Graduate Programs in Accounting at Suffolk University, acknowledged the pervasive uncertainty created by the pandemic. One of the major challenges faced by the university is the physical distance constraint, particularly for a city-based institution like Suffolk University. The limited physical space prompts uncertainties about scheduling and the potential need for added time between classes to accommodate social distancing.
In terms of students, uncertainties surround the fate of the international student community, travel restrictions, and the possible joining of deferred students in subsequent years. The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges, making it challenging to predict the future landscape.
Despite these hurdles, the overarching theme among accounting educators remains unwavering: a steadfast commitment to supporting students during this critical time.
This concludes Part 1 of the series, offering a glimpse into the valuable insights shared by Vishal's University Partners. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we delve deeper into how accounting educators are adapting to the challenges presented by COVID and actively working towards diversity and inclusion initiatives in their academic institutions.
Continue reading the Vishal Educator blog for the latest updates on accounting and CPA information, essential for all accounting instructors.