The Effect of Context and Training Interventions on Performance of Novice Accounting Learners

Date of Completion

January 2011


Business Administration, Accounting|Education, Business




Despite the dependence on worked examples in accounting education and training, little research has been conducted regarding the use of context in accounting settings. The influence of company specifics and variability of industry context in worked examples on performance on a novel problem is investigated using a Cognitive Load framework. Further, the effect of two types of instructional interventions on performance is examined. It was predicted that participants would perform best on novel problems when the study examples are in different industries and contained little company-specific contextual information. When participants were asked to engage in self-explanation or analogical encoding, those who received the study examples with little company context were expected to perform better than those who received study examples with rich company context. Further, because the analogical encoding intervention was expected to invoke deeper and more abstract processing than the self-explanation intervention, performance in the analogical encoding condition was expected to be better than in the self-explanation condition. ^ None of the hypotheses regarding performance differences among conditions were supported in either experiment. Additional analyses were conducted that considered example order and in Experiment 1, participants receiving the longer example first reported they expended significantly more effort on the study materials and concepts than those who had the shorter example first. A similar effect was found in experiment 2, but only for the introductory accounting students; those participants who received the easier example first performed significantly better on the novel problem than those who received the harder example first. The order effect was not present in the more advanced participants. However, unlike the introductory participants, those in the advanced accounting group were influenced by company-specific context; those in the company-rich condition performed significantly higher than those in the company-sparse condition. ^ Participants in the self-explain condition reported expending the greatest amount of effort. Those in the analogical encoding condition reported experiencing the least understanding of the materials. Overall, participants in both experiments 1 and 2 were poor judges of their understanding of both the study materials and their ability to solve the novel problem. ^