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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Experiment. . .That Worked!

Some time back I think I mentioned that I was going to try an experiment in my online Spreadsheets in Accounting class. I'm not happy with the textbook we're using (that's an understatement), and I want to rebuild the class with some different problems. However, if you've ever tried to build a numbers-based course without a textbook, you realize that it's very labor intensive to build a set of practice problems.

In this particular class, students complete two sets of homework problems for each unit. The first set is based on a series of templates that students complete. The second set is based on scenarios for which students must complete spreadsheets from "scratch."

I decided to give students the option in the last two units of completing the model-building problems from the textbook OR of creating a new model-building problem of their own. The problem had to be accounting-related and had to include the scenario, instructions for completion, data, the completed worksheet, test data (for use in testing the model), and the completed test data worksheet as well as a chart.

I must admit that I was somewhat nervous about the results I would get. As it turns out, I didn't need to be nervous at all. The model building problems these students submitted were awesome! The scenarios they chose will be much more practical for future accounting students than many of those in the textbook, and students appeared to truly enjoy being able to create something that was meaningful and useful to them. Go figure!

Consider me a convert to the "give students an opportunity to create (at least part) of their own curriculum" camp. Yay!

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