Faculty Perspective: COMM 2010, All Online, All the Time!

Roger Martin, KPMG Professor in Professional Accounting; Associate Dean for Academic Innovation

You might have heard by now that COMM 2010, “Introduction to Financial Accounting,” will be offered only as an online course starting in the spring 2018 semester. I get LOTS of questions from everyone about this–prospective students, past students, colleagues, Dean Zeithaml (my boss), the Provost’s office (more of my bosses), and even the Board of Visitors (more bosses!). So I thought I’d post some of those questions and my answers so that you can learn what this course is all about.

Wait. McIntire is teaching an online class? Why? 

First and foremost, because this course is AT LEAST as effective in helping you learn financial accounting as the large lecture format we’ve used in the past. It’s also more efficient for YOU. You can study when you are at your best without being on the assigned schedule of attending class at an arbitrary (possibly inconvenient) time.

This delivery format also helps you develop an increasingly important skill–learning content online and driving that learning process yourself. Employers are moving their training and continuing education online; they expect employees to be comfortable and proficient in learning that way.

I came to UVA because of their great faculty. Why don’t I get to have a faculty member teach me accounting?

You do–I AM a real faculty member! I just manage the teaching differently in this format. You might define teaching as standing in front of a large lecture hall delivering an engaging, entertaining and/or informative lecture. I define teaching differently: My job is to help you learn, based on best learning practices. I happen to believe (and the science backs me up on this) that I can manage that learning process for you in many ways.

My colleagues and I have spent HUNDREDS of hours designing the course content and determining how to challenge you at exactly the right time, in exactly the right way, with exactly the right material to facilitate your learning. Students learn accounting by DOING accounting–and lots of it. You don’t learn accounting best by having someone TELL you how to do it. You have to practice. This online course excels at guiding you in that practice (and learning) process by providing feedback to you as you practice, and then giving you the chance to demonstrate your progress (to me and to yourself).

How does the course actually run?

You will use Blackboard to access the course website, which is integrated with the McGraw-Hill Connect platform, where you will work with your e-book, all problems, and exams. Additional instructor-created content is provided on Blackboard as well.

You will be provided a robust course orientation to learn about content, website functionality, educational resources, etc.

The basic format has you cover one chapter per week, including:

  • Viewing a short introductory video about the chapter content
  • Reading the chapter and answering diagnostic questions as you proceed (for a grade)
  • Working a set of practice problems (for a grade)
  • Working a set of homework problems (for a grade)
  • Using other supplemental material that includes problem solutions videos, textbook “hints” and current events

Each chapter’s graded work is due (weekly) Sunday.

There are two midterm exams and one final exam, taken online and proctored by an online proctoring service.

Teaching assistants and I hold office hours on various days throughout each week. Those office hours are both “face-to-face” in Robertson Hall and “virtual” using an online meeting technology.

What can a student do to be successful in this class? 

Two things. First, do the work I ask you to do. Read, practice, check answers, watch videos, read again, do more problems. No one thing in this process is more important than another–it’s the combination that is powerful, and you have to do it ALL to give yourself the best chance to learn.

Second, you have to be responsible for your learning. What this means (to me) is that no matter what I provide to you in terms of content and support, YOU have to hold yourself accountable for doing the work, assessing how well you are learning, and asking for help when you need it.

By the way–here’s a secret. Those two “tips for success” are exactly the same whether you are in my online class, my upper-level accounting class, or one of my graduate classes. YOU have to do the work, and YOU have to be able to assess how it’s going. My job is to make sure the time, effort, and stomach acid you spend on the course are as productive as possible–and I’m very confident this online course does exactly that!

Professor Roger Martin has expertise in auditing and financial reporting. His research focuses on the impact of auditing, assurance services, and other corporate governance mechanisms on the quality of information provided to external users of financial statements. Professor Martin teaches a variety of auditing and assurance courses and intermediate financial accounting and has been awarded the University of Virginia All-University Teaching Award for his teaching excellence.