American Journal of Economics and Business Administration

Service-Learning in a Managerial Accounting Course: Developing the ‘Soft’ Skills

Victoria Calvert and Rafik Kurji

DOI : 10.3844/ajebasp.2012.5.12

American Journal of Economics and Business Administration

Volume 4, Issue 1

Pages 5-12

Abstract

Problem statement: This study explores the impact of a service-learning project embedded in a managerial accounting course through the lens of students’ technical, professional and personal development. Academic institutions and Business Schools in particular, are often criticized for producing graduates who are technically capable but lack the capability for teamwork, effective workplace communication and the ability to react effectively in unstructured and complex situations. Further, the perception of business professionals as being capitalists at the exclusion of community engagement is widespread. The authors propose the Service-Learning methodology be adopted as an effective manner in which to not only develop the communication and relationship skills of accounting students, but also to heighten their awareness and affiliation for community service and professional practice. Approach: The process undertaken to successfully launch a project employing the service-learning platform is explained, with emphasis placed upon overcoming operational barriers. The Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a student organization, who served a key role by sourcing entrepreneurs in the early stages of venture start-up, are also discussed. Results: Results of a successful Service-Learning project in a managerial accounting course is examined within the broader context of students developing skills pertaining to professional practice, citizenship, project management and successful business interaction. Critical learning moments, which entailed students gathering data from entrepreneurs for financial forecasting, contributed to the development of ‘soft’ skills such as enhanced communication with teammates and clients and the ability to work in an unstructured environment which required confidentiality and client management. Conclusion: This study describes how SL projects integrated into a managerial accounting course addresses some of the graduate competencies required by accounting associations and the broader community, including ‘soft’ skills, professional practice and citizenship behavior. Suggestions for structuring and managing SL projects in accounting courses may guide faculty in the successful adopting of the methodology.

Copyright

© 2012 Victoria Calvert and Rafik Kurji. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.