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Peer Review

Book-keeping and Accounting Interactive Tutor (BAIT)



Overall Rating:

4 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Dec 04, 2002 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: The Biz/Ed module consists of nine very concise tutorials that contain interactive completion and multiple-choice question assessments requiring calculations dealing with basic accounting topics. All questions are immediately marked with feedback scores returned to the student. The module has been developed at the University of Bristol. As a result financial figures are in pounds not dollars, but the unit value difference is not significant to the financial calculations. Topics covered include: the accounting equation, double entries, accrual and prepayments, and completing the trial balance as well as tutorials on partnership, manufacturing, and club and society accounts
Learning Goals: The learning goal of the module is to provide the user with an understanding of introductory accounting methodologies and concepts.
Target Student Population: The tutorials are designed for "students of Book-keeping/Accounting at any level." The material is intended to help beginning students of accounting understand the basic concepts and techniques with which they need familiarity before proceeding on to more difficult accounting topics.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: No accounting prerequisites are necessary for using the modules, as each tutorial is relatively self-contained. The site developers recommend that the user should be enrolled in a formal course at a College or University, but enrollment is not necessary to use the modules. The user of the site should have an Introductory Accounting textbook as a reference before beginning the modules.
Type of Material: BAIT is a series of tutorials and drill and practice sets with immediate feedback about the correct solution. Hints are available upon request to nudge students toward the correct answer. Students complete a "worksheet" consisting of pertinent concepts and calculations before proceeding to a multiple-choice examination on each topic.
Recommended Uses: The tutorials can be used for individualized learning by students who are having difficulty with introductory accounting techniques and concepts or by those students who need a review of such materials. In addition, the modules could be used in the classroom (depending on the number of students and whether the classroom contains the necessary technology to project the site onto a screen in the classroom). As a classroom aid, individual students can be called upon to provide an answer to selected questions. The study materials provide for versatility in their use.
Technical Requirements: Web browser

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: Biz/Ed has worked with the subject authors to create an excellent site that is easy to use. It provides for immediate grading of an answer, hints to the question, and brief explanations. At the bottom of each worksheet and multiple-choice examination, the total score for the student is calculated. In addition, the accounting material at the site includes instruction on debts and credits. Many U.S. accounting programs have stepped away from teaching debits and credits to their accounting students. This site will be very helpful for faculty who believe it is important for introductory accounting students to understand the difference between a debit and credit especially if they are proceeding into a more advanced accounting course where not enough time exists to deal with debits and credits as a separate topic.
Concerns: This site is targeted for a British audience and this orientation may create some problems for beginning American accounting students. For example, the word "stock" was used instead of "inventory." Other variations would probably create terminology confusion for the average American student taking a course in Introductory Accounting.

Some of the explanations also seem a bit too simplistic. For example, "So, 'financial accounting' is all about keeping records in order to satisfy legal requirements of reporting to stakeholders." Isn't that what accounting is all about? Financial, managerial, and tax/regulatory accounting are each distinguished by the subset of stakeholders to whom they respond. In another example: "In book-keeping, the words 'debit' and 'credit' have different meanings to their every day commercial and banking usage." This is actually, an incorrect statement. Banks use the term credit in the same way that all businesses use the term, but banks use it from the bank perspective when communicating with customers. The discussion of accruals is somewhat misleading because the focus is only on accrued expense instead of both revenues and expenses. Finally, partnerships and clubs are emphasized with no matching weight on corporations.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: Feedback is provided whether the student selects a correct or incorrect answer to a question. Immediate feedback provides for quick reinforcement of concepts before proceeding to the next question. As an example of explanations provided at the site, a completed balance sheet is available to view at a crucial point in the Accounting Equation module before proceeding on the following series of questions.
Concerns: Each tutorial identifies its purpose, but does not adequately describe what the learner should be able to do after completing it.

The use of terminology that is common to the British accounting system may make the tutorial inappropriate for United States accounting. Undergraduate students who are just learning American business and accounting terminology might find the additional layer of terminology confusing. Upper division accounting majors would benefit from a study of diversity; however, the content level of these modules is at the beginner level.

The worksheets that related to manufacturing accounts (overhead, indirect-direct labor, etc.) appear to be missing. The website materials provide for a multiple-choice exam on manufacturing accounts, but the manufacturing accounts worksheet that should be completed before the multiple-choice exam is completed could not be located.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The layout is visually appealing, well designed, intuitive, and consistent from worksheet to worksheet. Users will easily understand how to navigate the site and use the materials. The modules are highly interactive and work well with a slow-speed connection (56K) without any problems. Incorrect answers were marked with a red "X" and correct answers are shown with a "green check"?a clear separation. The feedback feature is particularly well done and an excellent feature.
Concerns: While the site is not particularly engaging, adding enhancements to make it more appealing might also detract from the site's ability to provide an efficient and effective means of studying the core concepts of accounting.

Some of the assessment activities include clarifying instructions at the end of the activity rather than at the start. Students very likely will do an exercise, get to the end of it, and see instructions that they should have read first.

"Previous" and "Next" links appeared at the bottom of each worksheet, but they appeared to be inactive. In addition, a link to "Contents" returns the user to the entire contents for all of the accounting modules, not the content for the module currently being used. Also, a dead link exists in Q.9?The Accounting Equation. The "click here" link in the hints pop-up goes to a 404 error.

The examination percentage scores on the multiple-choice tests appear to be computed differently than how such scores are calculated in the States. When four questions were answered and two were missed (on purpose), a score of 64% was calculated. In the U.S., the score would have been 50%. Perhaps the Biz/Ed scores are based on a percent of the "a, b, c, d" answers to each four questions that are chosen as answers.