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State Board Report

December 2014

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are being studied by the American Council on Education to examine their academic potential. The ACE has recommended five Coursera courses for college credit – but none are business courses yet, Dr. Christine A. Botosan, president of the American Accounting Association, told the NASBA Annual Meeting. “Times in higher education are turbulent and the process of assigning credit is difficult and involves the application of significant judgment,” she reported.

The most well-known providers of MOOCs associated with top universities are Coursera, Udacity and EdX, Dr. Botosan stated. Currently her school, the University of Utah, does not have any articulation agreement with MOOCs providers, but the Colorado State University has announced it will accept transfer credit from Udacity, she said. The U of U has complete authority to decide which courses are acceptable at the junior and senior undergraduate levels and for graduate classes.

U of U also has limitations on the amount of credit students can transfer and still receive a degree from U of U. If a student were to request transfer credit for an introductory accounting MOOC, the chair of the accounting department would assign a faculty member to begin the assessment to determine if the content covered was sufficiently similar to what would be covered in the university’s course. They would consider which institution is offering the course, whether it is accredited and by whom, and what materials are specific to the course. They would also need to determine how much credit to grant. With the standard semester-long class, one credit hour is defined as one hour of direct faculty instruction plus a minimum of two hours of out-of-class work each week for 15 weeks. With on-line courses, metrics may need to depend more on demonstrating acquired competencies and less on contact hours, she observed.

In the fall of 2013, Professor Brian Bushee of Wharton introduced the first introductory accounting MOOC, for which 56,000 students registered and approximately 10 percent completed. Besides the accounting MOOC, Wharton offered three other MBA MOOCs through Coursera. This enabled Wharton to evaluate the performance of students all over the world and identify top talent for recruiting, as well as provide vast global advertising, Dr. Botosan observed.

The American Accounting Association is proposing the formation of four centers aimed at advancing accounting in the areas of education, practice, research and public interest. Dr. Botosan invited NASBA to partner with AAA and other organizations concerned about accounting education in the development of the Center for the Advancement of Accounting Education. She explained the CAAE will provide a central location for resources and activities to help faculty and Ph. D. students.

Professors Jerry E. Trapnell and Jan R. Williams described the levels of accreditation of schools, focusing on the process and standards of the AACSB’s separate accounting accreditation process. Over 16,000 schools give business degrees, but only 700 are AACSB approved. Dr. Trapnell pointed to data collected by NASBA from the State Boards that showed 68 percent of candidates taking the Uniform CPA Examination in 2013 came from AACSB schools and 75 percent of them passed.

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