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Helping students see the progress they’ve made

Have you ever spent hours working on a project, only to become unsure about the amount of progress you’ve made? It can be a scary feeling not knowing if you’re advancing or spinning your wheels. That’s why many of us are often drawn to activities where there’s a clear path towards completion, paved with checkpoints.

The same feelings of uncertainty can materialize in your classroom. For many students, accounting is a new subject with unfamiliar concepts. They may not know if they’re appropriately grasping the material and, as a result, may lack the confidence to explore this career path.

As a teacher, you have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of CPAs. One way to do this is by actively showing your students the progress they’ve made in the classroom. Below is a list of ways to help highlight your students’ growth throughout the course.

Take pre- and post- surveys

One of the easiest ways to measure students’ progress is creating pre- and post-surveys. Surveys are a great way to conduct a needs assessment and measure targeted outcomes for academic skill-development.

During the first week of school, provide students with questions about accounting that will be covered throughout the semester or year. As the class winds down, allow students to take the same survey and compare results. Creating pre- and post- surveys can take a bit of planning. However, once you’ve solidified concepts, it’s easier to develop questions.

One of the biggest selling points about surveys is their ability to cater to your needs and interests. You can either create questions that are quantitative or qualitative in nature, or a combination of both. More importantly, surveys can help you set benchmarks to show your students, and yourself, how much they’ve grown throughout the year.

Looking for easy (and free) online survey tools? Check out SoGoSurvey, SurveyMonkey, Typeform, and Google Forms.

Record accounting video diaries

Like surveys, a video diary can be a great visual to show students’ growth. During the first week, pull each student aside and record their answers to questions that vary in difficulty (e.g. ‘What is your definition of accounting?’ to ‘What is blockchain?’). At the end of the semester, edit their answers as a montage and share the final product in class. Beyond seeing new fashion trends, students will get to see just how much – or little – they knew about the accounting profession.

Share aggregate scores of students’ performance

Sharing classroom performance throughout the year is an easy motivator. Yet, you’ll need to balance transparency and anonymity to provide a holistic view while preventing students from feeling indirectly shamed. One approach is to share aggregate class scores. You can do this by providing the class with their average score or overall grade on a project, quiz, or test or by breaking down performance based on letter grades. Then, when students receive their own grades, they’ll know where they stand with their peers.

Bonus tip: Need to conjure up a little extra motivation for your students? Set a goal and a reward for hitting it – the easiest being free food (let’s face it, no teenager will pass that up).

Incorporate interactive games

Games are a great way to test students’ wit in real-time. Whether it’s using technology or embracing analog methods, creating healthy competition is a perfect way to boost students’ confidence and learn what knowledge gaps may exist. Here are a few activities you can use in the classroom.

For the accounting superstars

  • Bank On It®: Our very own Bank On It game is all about taking the accounting principles your students are learning in the classroom and reinforcing these lessons in a fun, interactive game where they can compete with each other or with a computer. Our Financial Literacy version also covers topics that give your students a taste of real, working-world scenarios. As an extra resource, we’ve put together an Educators’ Guide that makes it easy to include this game into your classroom activities.

For the game show fan

  • Jeopardy: This timeless game show is the perfect review game. Simply download a free presentation template or use this online version to create questions based on similar topics and varied point values. Divide students into 3-5 teams and have one team member keep score on the whiteboard. Allow the first team to choose a topic and a point value for a question. Read the question out loud and allow players to raise their hands to answer. If a team answers correctly, they gain that number of points. If they get it wrong, they lose that number of points. If you wish, you can allow players to wager a certain amount of points before answering the final question. This way, it gives teams who are far behind a shot at victory at the very end of the game.

For the teacher looking to make individual reviews fun

  • Kahoot: Like Jeopardy, Kahoot is an interactive game that rewards points based on correct answers. What sets students apart, though, is their sheer diversity of playstyles. Beyond hosting games in the style of Jeopardy, Kahoot also allows students to compete against each other. The best part, students only need access to an internet capable device. This means they can play in a computer lab or on their phones in the classroom. Having individual competition is beneficial as it allows all students to participate, see how they stack up amongst their peers and, more importantly, learn how well they understand the material.

For the teacher looking to escape computer screens

  • Around the World: This classic individual game works with accounting trivia questions. Have the class arrange their desks into a giant circle and get two volunteers who are sitting beside each other to stand up. Start the game by asking a question. Whoever is the first to answer correctly wins. The winner then moves clockwise to the next contestant. The goal of this game is to move as many seats as possible before losing. Once they lose, that student will sit in the seat of the person who bested them. The game ideally ends when one student makes it “around the world” to their original seat. If time runs out, the winner can also be determined by the person who traveled the farthest.

Implement self-assessments

Sometimes the best way to show a student’s progress is having them assess their own understanding. To do this, ask your students a set of pre-determined questions either at the start or end of the class period. Have them answer this by writing their responses on paper. Questions can cater to concepts, their confidence level, how they feel about the subject matter currently being taught, or what aspects are puzzling them. Once they’re finished, have them turn it in for review. This technique allows them a chance to reflect on the material and will provide another checkpoint for you to create activities around improvement areas.

It’s important to spend time throughout the semester or year showing how students are progressing. Not only will it help you keep a pulse on the class, it also helps students build confidence in their abilities and hopefully inspire them to become future CPAs.