Editor’s Note: This research from Nigeria shows that certain kinds of subject matter are learned better using non-traditional modes of teaching. An accounting course with a high failure rate was chosen for this experiment.
A Comparative Analysis of Two Methods
of Teaching Financial Accounting
at Senior Secondary School
Raymond Uwameiye and Ogunbameru Mercy Titilayo
This research investigates the effect of the conventional method of teaching vis-à-vis the effect of an alternative method of teaching (guided discovery method of teaching) on students’ performance in financial accounting. Two groups, the experimental and control were subjected to different treatments (instructional methods). Both groups were also subjected to pretest and post test using the same instruments. The population of this study comprised all twenty-two Senior Secondary School two (SS2) financial accounting students in Okitipupa Local Government Education Area of Ondo State in Nigeria. Findings of study indicated a difference in pretest and posttest mean performance scores of students in control and experimental groups; and mean performance score of students taught with guided discovery method and those taught with conventional method in financial accounting achievement posttest scores. The study also revealed no difference in the mean performance scores of male and female students taught with guided discovery and conventional method of teaching respectively.
Background to the study
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) stated the broad goal of the secondary school education is to prepare individuals for: “useful living within the society and higher education”. To achieve this objective, secondary school education in Nigeria has six years duration given in two stages – three years of junior secondary school followed by three years of senior secondary school. The curriculum designed for senior secondary school is comprehensive and broad based, aimed at broadening students’ knowledge and outlook. Subjects offered in senior school are in three groups – core subjects, vocational and non-vocational subjects. One of the vocational subjects is Financial Accounting.
According to Asaolu (2002), “Financial accounting is the process of recording, classifying, selecting, measuring, interpreting, summarizing and reporting financial data of an organization to the users for objective assessment and decision making.” Accounting data are processed into accounting information through the use of accounting principles and conventions. The accounting principles are known as “generally accepted accounting principles.” They are the basic fundamentals which guide accountants in recording, appreciating and assessing accounting information as well as the preparation and interpretation of financial statements. The accounting information system is proven, time honored, and its format is universally understood. Books of accounts prepared by accountants in one part of the world are easily understood by their counterparts in other parts of the world because the information system is based on principles that are widely accepted and globally used. According to the National Examination Council (NECO 2004), the objectives of studying financial accounting at senior secondary school are as follows:
1. To enable senior secondary school students appreciate the basic rules, functions and principles of accounting
2. To lay proper foundation for further study of accountancy and allied courses at higher level and
3. To enable the students understand basic accounting principles, practice and their applications to modern Business activities.
To achieve the above stated objectives, financial accounting teachers employ various instructional methods in the classroom. According to Cantrell (2004), teaching methods are in a continuum, ranging from exposition to inquiry.
The Exposition method of teaching is conventional and widely used in the classroom. Also, Cantrell (2004) reported the characteristics of exposition method to include the following: leader-centered, leader-active, learner passive and content emphasis. Examples of exposition methods are lecture, discussion, traditional demonstration, guest speaker, panel discussion, story telling, dramatization, and reading of textbooks, manuals or handouts.
The Inquiry method is an approach where the learner generates his/her own form of information. It is characterized by the following features: learner-centered, leader-facilitated, learner-active and learning process emphasis.
In general, exposition is considered to be leader centered with an emphasis on content delivery while inquiry is considered learner centered with the emphasis on the process of learning. In a typical learning situation this suggests that for exposition, the leader is actively involved (for example lecturing, reading aloud, showing a video) and the learner is passively taking in the information (for example listening, reading an overhead, watching a video).
In contrast, learners engaged in inquiry are actively involved (for example: conducting investigations, processing information and data) while the leader’s role is to help facilitate the process of learning (Cantrell 2004). Examples of inquiry methods are guided discovery, problem solving and inquiry methods. Guided discovery learning is a method of learning that has the advantage of allowing learners to use process skills to generate content information. It actively engages learners in first hand real world learning. It encourages learners to explore the content through the use of concrete experiences. Teachers are released from the role of authority and giver of knowledge to become facilitator and fellow investigator. This replaces the notion that the teacher must know all the answers.
Graphic representation such as maps, time tables, flow charts which depict the sequencing of learning activities (Advance Organizer) and other such devices are effective way for teachers and text book authors to promote discovery learning.
Advance organizer as a motivational strategy for meaningful learning
Ausubel (1970) stated that sequencing of subject matter or concept from general concept to the specific such that meaningful relationship can be deciphered from it, is guided discovery learning. Several factors influence teacher’s choice of teaching method for classroom instruction. According to Onwegbu and Kpangba (1995), some of these factors are cost, preparation time, knowledge of the method, nature of the subject matter, curriculum prescription and research recommendations on sequencing of the learning experience. These are factors that the financial accounting teacher must bear in mind.
Akintelure (1998) reported that financial accounting teachers’ effectiveness in instructional delivery depends on their consideration of the nature of the subject during instructional planning. According to her financial accounting is not a subject that can be mastered by mere memorization of the basic rules. It requires total involvement of the learner in the learning process, sound theoretical knowledge and intensive practice in application of basic principles. To what extent financial accounting teachers involve these principles to teach financial accounting is yet to be determined.
According to Ogunu (2000), poor academic performance has been identified as a problem in Nigerian secondary school public examinations. For example, WAEC (2000) analysis of percentage performance of candidates in twenty popular subjects in West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination for 1998, 1999, and 2000 revealed 52.48%, 58.38% and 51.21% percentage failure in financial accounting. Akintelure (1998) blamed the problem on accounting teachers’ insensitivity to the nature of financial accounting when planning instructional activities in the classroom. According to her, financial accounting is not one of the subjects that can be mastered by mere memorization of the basic rules. It requires total determination, sound theoretical knowledge and intensive practice in application. The present study is an attempt to determine the efficacy of guided discovery method of instruction on the teaching of Financial Accounting in senior secondary school.
This research was carried out using quasi–experimental design of pre-test, post-test control group. The design offered less rigorous experimental control as compared to the true experimental design. The design was specific with non-randomized control group and non-equivalent groups. This was because the subjects were taken as intact groups composed of mixed of low and high achievers. In addition, the design was expected to correct various group differences statistically.
The population of this study comprised all the twenty two Senior Secondary School two (SS2) financial accounting students with the population of 820 students in Okitipupa Local Government Education Area of Ondo State in Nigeria.
Sample and Sampling Technique
Purposive sampling technique was adopted and used to select schools for the study. A survey of co-educational public secondary day schools was carried out to identify schools that have at least a stream of financial accounting in Senior Secondary School class two (popularly called the SS2). Only schools that have at least one graduate financial accounting teacher with relevant professional teaching qualifications teaching the group used for the study was chosen. Chosen schools were randomly assigned to experimental and control group while students in the sample schools remained in their in-tact classes.
Two types of instruments that were employed for data collection in this study included:
(a) Instructional Package for Financial Accounting (IPFA)
(b) Financial Accounting Achievement Test (FAAT)
Instructional Package for Financial Accounting
The instructional package consisted of prepared lesson plans on selected topics based on guided discovery method of instruction (Appendix ) on one hand and conventional method of instruction (Appendix ) on the other hand. The accounting textbook recommended for use by the examining bodies for senior secondary school examination (WAEC and NECO) were used and the topics were taught in line with the Ondo State senior secondary school scheme of work in financial accounting. No special teaching session was organized. Teaching was done in accordance with the selected schools’ time–table period allocation in financial accounting.
The lesson plans were prepared on topic by topic matched to period by period basis. Lesson plans outlined the period, the topic and the behavioural objectives of each lesson.
Financial Accounting Achievement Test
FAAT consisted of 20 multiple test items covering the following concepts on partnership accounts.(see Appendix A for Table of Specification). Item analysis (Appendix B) was conducted on FAAT to ensure standardization of the items.
The behaviour measured included knowledge of terms, principles and concepts, interpretation of practice question, application of principles and concepts to practice questions.
The areas of coverage were as prescribed by NECO and WAEC 2004 financial accounting syllabus for senior secondary school.
IPFA was validated using experts’ judgment. Experts in vocational education (Business Education) and experts in educational psychology and curriculum studies in the Faculty of Education, University of Benin, Benin City were consulted. Their criticisms, suggestions and recommendations were affected on the instructional package.
FAAT was validated by a five man panel of judges. All members were from the target population and they were all financial accounting teachers currently teaching in senior secondary schools. They ascertained that the items were representative and related to the chosen concepts in partnership accounts. Suggested modifications on the test items were affected.
The reliability of the test instrument was determined by administering the test instrument to the same level of students in another school within the same population area. The school chosen met all the requirements which qualified the original two chosen schools for the study. A test–retest method was used to estimate the reliability of the instrument. The test was administered to an intact class of twenty six (26) students. After a month interval, the same instrument was re-administered to the same students in their intact class. A reliability co-efficient of 0.63 was obtained using Pearson Product Movement Correlation Co-efficient Formula.
Method of Administration of Instruments
The data collection phase lasted for five weeks comprising one single period of forty minutes and double periods of eighty minutes per week. The single periods were used solely for worked examples and they preceded the double periods which were used for instructional activities on the selected topics. All the students in both groups were pre-tested with financial accounting achievement test a week before treatment began. The pre-test scores served as a basis for comparing students’ performance in financial accounting test before and after treatment.
The experimental group was taught with guided discovery method of instruction while the control group was taught with chosen accounting concepts with conventional method using only the chalkboard and the recommended accounting textbooks. There was no time for students’ interaction in groups. The teacher did most of the talking without any other teaching aids besides chalk, chalkboard and the recommended textbooks.
The treatment group was taught with guided discovery method, graphical representations/organizers were employed to guide students’ cognitive process and mental road maps on important points. Relevant questions were carefully matched with the relevant concepts. The concepts were organized logically in order to facilitate easy information processing and as stimuli to elicit students’ response to relevant questions. Practical work on accounting practice was given to students after each classroom instructional session.
Control of Extraneous Variables
Some extraneous variables anticipated to affect this study included: teachers’ factors, students’ factors and school principals’ factors (cooperation). To control possible effects of the above extraneous variables, the researcher organized a one day seminar for the financial accounting teachers of the affected schools. The date for the seminar was chosen by consensus; the researcher offered some reward to the teachers for task engagement. No school principal factor was envisaged, however, the affected departmental heads were duly informed. Before instruction, students in the experimental group were given questions on relevant concepts bordering on meaningful understanding of concepts. They were taught collaborative and cooperative learning strategies before they were assigned to groups.
Descriptive statistics such as mean and standard deviations were used for mean achievement score analysis while inferential statistics such as t-test/z-test were used to test relevant hypotheses.
Pretest, Posttest Mean Performance Scores of
Experimental Group and Control Groups
Research Question 1: Is there a significant difference in the students’ pretest, mean achievement score and posttest mean achievement score in both groups?
Hypothesis 1: There is no significant difference in the students’ pretest, mean achievement score and posttest mean achievement score in both groups?
Pretest, Posttest Mean Achievement Score of Students Taught with
Guided Discovery Method and Conventional Method
Table 1 shows a calculated Z value of 17.08 for experimental group pretest, posttest mean achievement scores as against 1.96 criterion value and the control group calculated Z value was 14.18 as against 1.96 criterion Z value at .05 significant level. This rejects the hypothesis of no significant difference in pretest and posttest mean achievement scores of students taught with guided discovery method and conventional method. The difference in pretest, posttest mean and performance scores was not due to chance factor, but was a result of the treatments given.
Posttest Mean Achievement of Students
Research Question 2: Is there a significant difference in mean achievement scores of students taught with conventional method of instruction and the mean achievement score of students taught with guided discovery method?
Hypothesis 2: There is no significant difference in mean achievement scores of students taught with the conventional method of instruction and students taught with guided discovery method.
Mean Achievement Scores of Student Taught with Guided Discovery Method
and Conventional Method
Table 2 indicates a calculated Z test value of 9.92 while the critical Z value is 1.96 at 0.05 probability level to reject the hypothesis of no difference in the mean performance scores of the experimental group taught with guided discovery method and the control group taught with the conventional method. This shows a significant difference in the mean performance scores of students taught with the guided discovery method and the students taught with conventional method of instruction. Though, both groups improved on their pretest mean performance scores after 5 weeks of treatment, the experimental group post test mean percentage score of 62.5% is higher than the control group post test mean performance percentage score of 44.35%. Moreover, the 62.5% experimental group means score is a credit pass as compared to the control group means score of 44.35% which is an ordinary pass.
Gender Difference of Students’ Mean Performance Scores
Taught with Conventional Method
Research Question 3: Is there a significant difference in the mean performance scores of male and female students taught with conventional method of instruction?
Hypothesis 3: There is no significant difference in the mean performance scores of male and female students taught with conventional method of instruction.
Mean Achievement Performance Scores of Male and Female Students Taught with Conventional Method of Instruction
Degree of Freedom
P < .05
Table 3 shows a calculated t-test score of 0.31 as against a 2.048 t-test criterion value at 0.05 probability level to retain the hypothesis of no difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught with conventional method of instruction. This shows that the treatment given, ie the conventional method of instruction was the only significant factor that enhanced the boys’ and the girls’ general performance; there was no skewed or lop-sided performance on the part of the group’s boys as well as on the part of the girls. That is to say, in other words that gender difference (male and female) has no effect on the group students’ mean performance in financial accounting achievement test.
Gender Difference of Students’ Mean Performance Score
in Experimental Group Taught with Guided Discovery Method.
Research Question 4: Is there a significant difference in the mean performance scores of male and female students taught with guided discovery method?
Hypothesis 4: There is a significant difference in the mean performance scores of male and female students taught with guided discovery method.
Difference in Mean Performance Scores Of Male and Female Students Taught With Guided Discovery Method
Degree of Freedom
P < 0.05
Table 4 above shows a t-test score of 0.17 as against a 2.000 t-test critical value at .05 probability level to retain the hypothesis of no significant difference between mean achievement scores of male and female students taught with guided discovery method of instruction was retained. Gender has no significant effect on male and female student taught using guided discovery method. The experimental group students’ mean performance scores in FAAT (posttest) was a factor of treatment given and not of gender difference in the group composition.
Discussions on the Findings
Tables 1, 2, 3, and 4 show the descriptive and inferential statistics on the study. The mean achievement scores are descriptive or representative scores of the group or variables they represent while the t, z scores (calculated and critical values) provide premise for making inference or deductions on their relevant tested hypotheses.
Table 1 shows a significant difference between the academic performance in the pretest and posttest of students taught with guided discovery method (experimental group) and conventional method (control group). This is in accordance with Toby (1997) opinion that individual/group mean achievement score should serve as a basis for making judgment on whether a group/individual has achieved a pre-determined, stated objective or not. He is of the opinion that means achievement score should be regarded as a reliable performance indicator of the treatment given (instructional method). In other words the effectiveness of the instructional method employed in the classroom can be evaluated based on the obtained mean achievement score of the group.
Table 1 also shows that the different treatments given to the experimental and control groups effected positive changes on the students mean achievement scores in post test financial achievement test. However, about how much and to what degree is the conventional method of instruction better than the discovery method of instruction, or vice-verse in achievement of the objectives of students’ appreciation of basic rules, functions and principles of accounting, students’ understanding of basic accounting principles, practice and their practical applications to modern business activities and laying proper foundation for further study of accountancy and allied courses at higher level?
Table 2 provides the required statistics to answer the research question 2 and test hypothesis 2 which center around the effectiveness or otherwise of the guided discovery method and the conventional method in achieving the stated objectives. Table 2 shows a difference between the experimental group posttest means score and control group posttest mean score. This shows that the students taught with the guided discover method level of attainment is higher than the control group’s attainment level. The quality of mean achievement score in experimental group which is a credit pass is also better than the control group’s ordinary pass. This implies that the differences in experimental and control group mean achievement scores is not a chance factor but an indication of effectiveness of guided discovery method over conventional method of teaching and learning financial accounting concepts. In this respect, guided discovery method of instruction can be said to be a better method of laying solid foundation and enhancing students’ understanding, interpretation and application of financial accounting rules, concept and principle to modern day business activities.
Moreover, the 55.7% percentage failure in control group’ post test mean score is a replicate of failure trend in financial accounting students’ performance in public examinations. This confirms the findings of Ogunu (2000), and WAEC (2004) analysis of WASSCE 1998, 1999 and 2000 students’ performance in financial accounting, with reported failure rate of 52.48%, 58.38% and 51,2% Going by the present scenario in students’ performance in public examination and Table 2 statistical analysis on the effect of teachers method on students’ performance, conventional method which is predominantly used by financial accounting teachers in the classroom is a contributory factor to students’ persistent failure in public examination in Nigeria.
There is also the need to know to what extent, if any, the effect of variable such as students’ gender difference on their groups’ mean achievement scores. Table 3 and 4 statistics were used to test hypothesis 3 and 4. Table 3, shows that students’ gender difference has no significant effect on the control groups’ mean performance while table 4 shows that experimental group mean achievement is purely an expression of treatment effectiveness, the effect of guided discovery method on student achievement and not a product of gender difference interplay on students’ achievement.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The fact that the posttest mean achievement scores of students taught with conventional method did not differ from the recent financial accounting students’ performance trend in public examination as reported by WAEC (2004). It shows that teachers’ predominant usage of conventional method of instruction in financial accounting teaching is a contributory cause of student failure in the subject. The use of guided discovery method in place of conventional method will improve students’ achievement and change the ugly failure rate trend in financial accounting achievement test. Persistent use of conventional method of instruction in financial accounting will perpetuate the failure trend. In line with the findings of this study, the researchers recommend:
Since no nation can be greater than the quality of her teachers; to improve the nation’s standard of living and reduce crime rate, unemployment, industrial inefficiency, high capital flight to oversea countries through employment/engagement of expatriates, the educational sector should be improved through training of teachers in the use of effective instructional method in the classroom, especially in the use of guided discovery in financial accounting instruction.
Professional bodies such as National Association of Business Educators (NABE), Governmental Bodies such as National Business and Technical Education Board (NABTEB), West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examination Council (NECO) should organize seminars, workshops and in-house training for teachers and textbook authors in the use of Guided Discovery Method in financial accounting and other effective methods of teaching other courses.
Incentives such as scholarships, grants or loans should be made available to research students and institutions to carry-out more work or study on effective strategies in classroom instructions in general and particularly more study should be done on various techniques of using guided discovery method in classroom teaching and learning.
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Asaolu, A. (2002). Modern book–keeping and accounts. Ibadan: Calabeks publishers
Ausubel, D.P (1966) Educational psychology: a cognitive view. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.
Cantrell, D. (2004).Using a variety of teaching methods and strategies:recovered from online. Goggle search.
NECO (2002). Regulations and syllabus for senior secondary school certificate examination. Minna: NECO.
Ogunu, M.A (2000). Strategies for effective supervision of instruction in UBE programmers. In Awabor. D.& Aghenta J.A (E D). proceedings of the 15th annual congress of the nigerian academy of educationp, Benin city, Ambik press Ltd, 155
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About the Authors
Dr. Raymond Uwameiye is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Vocational and Technical Education, Univerity of Benin, Benin City Nigeria. E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Mercy Titilayo Ogunbameru is a postgraduate student in the Department of Vocational and Technical Education, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.
Table of Specification
Knowledge of Basic Terms
Understanding of concept and principles
Application of Principles
Partnership meaning and Terminologies
Admission of New partners
Dissolution of partnership
The item analysis was conducted using the twenty six (26) students test scores in the pilot group. Under the item analysis, two indices were computed –namely the item difficulty level and the item discrimination indices.
Item Difficulty Level
Item difficulty was determined by the percentage of candidates that got the right answer out of the total respondents. The formular for calculating the tem difficulty (P) is
P = R x 100
P = Item difficulty level
R = Number of students who got the answer right
T = Total number of candidates
Procedure for Computing Discrimination index
The scripts of the twenty-six (26) students were arranged in order of merit, the highest score being on top and the lower score below. The number of student – 26 was multiplied by 0.27 and the result was rounded up for 7 (seven scripts) 7 scripts were counted from the top and these formed the upper 7 students (RH). Also 7 scripts were counted from the bottom which represented the lower 7 students (RL). The remaining 12 scripts represented students in-between the RH and RL and were not used for the exercise. The respective values of RH and RL for each item were inserted in the formula for computing discrimination indices for the items.
Final Selection of Items
In the final selection of Items for the Financial Accounts Achievement Test (FAAT) instrument, the following conditions were jointly considered.
1. any item whose difficulty index fell between 20 and 60 were used.
2. any item with negative difficult index was removed and not used
3. any item whose difficulty index fell below 20 and above 60 was not used.
On the whole 16 questions were chosen while four (4) questions were modified (reframed) and were added to the 16 to have a total of twenty (20) questions in all. The table below highlights the test items indexes.