A comparison of collaborative accounting problem solving via group support systems in a face-to-face versus a distant learning environment
Jacqueline Ann Burke, New York University, United States
New York University . Awarded
Representatives of the accounting profession have expressed concerns over the quality of accounting education. They have suggested that accounting educators engage students more actively in the learning process. Specific recommendations include teaching unstructured problems and integrating collaborative learning projects into the classroom. One way to enhance participation during collaborative learning projects is by using GSS (Group Support Systems). A lack of research exists, however, on the effectiveness of GSS in a distance learning environment.
This study was an examination of how GSS learning environments (face-to-face vs. distant) and task difficulty level (simple vs. difficult) influenced participation levels and social presence among accounting students working collaboratively on an accounting task. A sample of 128 volunteer accounting students was randomly assigned to groups of four in either a face-to-face or distant GSS learning environment and to either a simple or difficult collaborative accounting task. Results indicated that participation levels and social presence perceptions were significantly higher in the face-to-face than in the distant GSS learning environment for both tasks. Perceived social presence was positively related to participation: students reporting a “high” social presence level participated significantly more than those reporting a “very low” level, in both learning environments and for both task difficulty levels. Students also reported higher levels of perceived social presence doing the simple than doing the difficult task in both learning environments (this finding approached significance). Task difficulty level did not appear to have a major impact on student participation in either learning environment. It is suggested that the stronger the social presence, the more likely that accounting students will participate when using GSS.
Burke, J.A. A comparison of collaborative accounting problem solving via group support systems in a face-to-face versus a distant learning environment. Ph.D. thesis, New York University.
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