Distance-learning students (especially UNISA students) miss out on the types of discussions that normally take place in classes. They use these discussions to relate to other students and ‘measure’ themselves up against the group to gain comfort (or panic!) about their studying.
How can we simulate that discussion?
I lecture the online FAC1502 course for Tabaldi. Although I don’t see students face-to-face, our discussion forum helps create a specific community for them, and I gather information and feedback from them to help others. (You’re welcome!)
Here’s what I asked them:
- Have you studied Accounting before, how did this impact you?
- What challenged you the most?
- Advice for future students?
- What about exam technique?
- Any other comments
Read some of their responses below.
Have you studying accounting before (at school or elsewhere), how did this impact you?
Johan- “Never at school. First attempt at FAC1502 was in in May 2012. Huge impact!! The textbook is not written for a student who has never had accounting, it doesn’t introduce aspects in logical sequence. Thus, some concepts are assumed as understood and I often found the textbook to be ambiguous and what I thought I understood, was completely different a second or a third time round”
Anonymous Bedfordview “I haven’t had any previous accounting theory background and this impacted me hugely. I feel now after working my butt off day and night, weekends, holidays, everything that I definitely needed some sought of extra class/tutorial. As my friend told me when she started university a few years back: They cover what you did in high school in the first week of university’”
RM – “This was my first time writing accounting and it was really horrible… also didn’t have accounting at school so it was all new to me… tried learning from the textbook but was impossible… glad I found Tabaldi because the video’s really helped me understand but I don’t know if I passed…”
What challenged you the most?
45, JHB, Part time. – “As a full time employee for a consulting firm (IT consulting), I work overtime and often travel, so finding the time to go through the basics and the volume of the theory is a luxury. Also, the theory is nothing like the exam questions and this throws you into a state of panic. Suddenly you are emotionally overwhelmed and have to deal with anxiety over and above all the work. It feels like a filtering mechanism to get rid of students”
Anonymous Bedfordview “I am now turning 25 and working full time at my family business. I must say I absolutely love studying again but at the same time while working full time you can say goodbye to your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, mistress, pet goldfish, dog, cat and friends. By the time I managed to get to chapter 5 (In the 17 chapter textbook) and somewhat understand accounting it was already March. Luckily, while googling ways how to remember debit and credits I stumbled across Tabaldi. I quickly joined up and started watching the online tutorial courses, finally I started getting some structure to what I could expect from this module.”
Advice for future students?
45, JHB, Part time. – “A must for students who have never had accounting before is to get access to a person you can ask questions, be it Tabaldi or other. Also, work through previous exam examples (which have answers). I think I learned the most from that and only then really understood some issues.”
Anonymous Bedfordview – “I wish that I’d known the struggle it would be never having done accounting before and how vital it is to not “fool” yourself with the time you have available for studying for accounting. Also accept that it is ok to go to classes or find online tutorials. I wish someone whacked me across the head at the beginning of the semester and said, ‘You’ve never done accounting, go to extra classes.’ I think this should be emphasized, you need extra help from the beginning. (Unless you are a genius with immense time on your hands then lucky you) “
If you got exam-technique advice, how much did it help?
45, JHB, Part time. –“I referred to your tips on how to get points in the exam. Will see if it helped. Does a pass in such an instance mean that I know something about accounting??? I don’t know. Does a fail mean that I don’t…. I don’t know either…. By the way, the first time I wrote FAC1502, I was completely overwhelmed by the format of the paper, (ie; the Journal Paper we were given to do our answers on) I sat there for at least 50% of the time thinking what the hell do they want? Content or formatting… I only filled in 40% of the paper and scored 29% finally. I felt like a complete idiot. This time round I noted how many other students there were with the exact same issue…”
Anonymous Bedfordview – “It really is practice, practice and practice, but you must first understand the concept before you can begin practicing. Understanding is vital in time management and you don’t know how long it will take you to grasp a concept which is why I would urge future students without an accounting background to seek extra help.”
Anonymous Repeat student – “I am in shock!!! I passed. I don’t know how I did it, I mean, I left out an entire question and messed up another. But always kept what you said in mind about putting headings and getting easy marks. So I passed with 50%.”
BM – “Thank you for guiding us to a better understanding of accounts. The paper seemed fair though its always time management on questions. l used your tricks on answering the questions to obtain marks too:) tried not to be a perfectionist though am afraid that l moved to other questions leaving some of my questions completed.”
PC – “Well – that exam humbled me. I urge every student that it is VITAL to practice. Please take it from me who has never done accounting. Thanks Yvonne and team. Trusting God for my miracle pass!”
I also wrote an article discussing some techniques and study advice to work on while studying FAC1502. Read the article here
Any other stuff you have to say
45, JHB, Part time. –“After two attempts I finally think I understand the theory, it’s now very definitely a case of Practice, Practice, Practice.”
Anonymous Bedfordview – “I want to add a problem I had when writing FAC1502: I forgot how to write an exam… I’ve been out of school for 7 years and I really did “forget” that 2 hours feels like 20 minutes. I didn’t structure questions correctly, I tried to keep my calculations separate, at the end of it my paper looked like a child had scribbled on it (Poor examiner) My advice is when doing examples through the textbook, lay everything out neatly and correctly, don’t just do a few quick calculations in pencil somewhere, do it as you would in the exam so when the exam does come around its already an action before it was even a thought. And the best piece of advice I was given: “Accounting is more English than Maths”. Knowing the maths isn’t the difficult part but more UNDERSTANDING what the question is actually asking you is the real trick.”
LVS: BCom student –“Thank you for all the tutorial videos, we finally received our results this evening and I managed to secure a pass! (60%). It’s a great relief as I’ve put a lot of effort into it and I had to start by learning the difference between a debit & credit!”
RM – “I studied my butt off (ask my wife) but trying to learn accounting from scratch while studying part time ain’t no joke… I essentially had 3 and half months from the start of the semester… I was really thrown by the answer book in the exams, thought they gave me the wrong answer book at first because all the vertical lines didn’t help with the ledger accounts in question 1… why can’t they just give us blank sheets in the answer book?”
These comments are a drop in the ocean of students who have their own experiences. It may help you feel less alone, or you might not relate to it at all. My experience is that for every student who expresses a thought or feeling, there are a few dozen sighing in relief that they’re not the only ones who feel that way!
Feel free to comment and add your own experience or answers to the above.
(Remember, agree or disagree, these are students feelings, so be respectful of their experiences!)