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Peer Review

Principles of Accounting

by Larry Walther


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jan 25, 2011 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: Authored by Dr. Larry Walther, this MERLOT module consists of a free online textbook that could be used in typical principles of financial and managerial courses. The textbook is organized into seven topics: Accounting Cycle, Current Assets, Long-Term Assets, Liabilities/Equities, Using Information, Managerial/Cost, and Budgeting/Decisions. The number of chapters per topic range from two to four. Each chapter includes a study guide for formative assessment providing fill-in-the-blank questions, multiple-choice questions, and problems, along with a checklist and set of key terms. Supplements include an interactive glossary organized two ways, alphabetically and by chapter; a time value of money appendix, illustrative journal entries, a list of account types identifying debits and credits; and a link to contemporary accounting issues from Business Week that is updated weekly.
Type of Material: Open textbook.
Recommended Uses: This online textbook could be used with the author's permission in lieu of a typical hard-backed principles of financial and managerial accounting text. The course videos could be used to supplement in-classroom lecture. The online book can also be used as a supplement by students for a review of concepts once learned.
Technical Requirements: Browser.
Identify Major Learning Goals: To help students learn introductory financial and managerial accounting.
Target Student Population: The target population is college level introductory accounting students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Basic computer and internet skills.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This online textbook is exceptionally well done. Content is presented in a clear and concise fashion with graphics placed appropriately to illustrate concepts and enhance learning. The textbook is very thorough and covers all the topics typically found in a hard-back principles of financial and managerial accounting book. Content is accurate, informed by scholarship, and self-contained. Each chapter contains an adequate amount of material which can be downloaded (Adobe files) and printed if desired.
Concerns: The site is copyrighted as of 2010. However, the creator has no responsibility to maintain or update the site. This digital textbook does not appear to be in hard-cover publication per a brief perusal of

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This open textbook is an excellent alternative to the traditional book. It includes interactive formative assessments. The writing style used is excellent with links to real world scenarios included. Each chapter identifies learning objectives. The organization is excellent. Concepts are reinforced progressively, building on prior concepts. This online book is definitely a viable, low-cost, alternative to the expensive traditional textbooks available.
Concerns: If used to supplement another textbook, typical students might not spend very much time using it because they very likely will want to be most familiar with the textbook purchased for a class. In addition, most introductory accounting textbooks have their own homework problems which usually requires extensive amounts of time to solve. Students would probably not have a lot of extra time to delve into accounting elsewhere unless the additional work counted for a grade.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This online textbook is particularly well done. It is easy to use. Navigation instructions are great. Design quality is excellent. Graphics included to illustrate concepts are wonderful. Page layout is excellent. Content is extensive. The YouTube videos have a professional quality as well. Sound quality is good.
Concerns: While the core principles of introductory accounting do not change a lot, changes to accounting and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles do. A major concern,since the site is free, is whether one would be able to rely on it being updated and maintained. For example, the Sarbanes-Oxley ACt is not mentioned in the short section on internal controls.

Other Issues and Comments: <
  • Educators wishing to use this online book as the primary or secondary source of content in their curriculum must obtain written permission from the author.
  • Solutions to problems must be obtained by the instructor directly from the author.
  • The website appears to be still under construction.
  • Despite these issues, this online textbook is excellent.
  • Comments from Author: Although one reviewer says that Sarbanes-Oxley is not covered, Chapter 15 includes such coverage.