MyAccountingLab teaching guide
We've developed this teaching guide in partnership with Carrie Rutherford, who has a PhD in Pure Maths from the University of London and is currently a maths lecturer at London South Bank University. Carrie teaches in the School of Business where she has used MyLabs for the past 8 years.
Before your course starts
Inevitably there is an investment of time when setting up an online teaching or learning tool, but the extent of learning achieved for students, as well as the outcomes for faculty or institution, can outweigh the time outlay.
Most institutions now encourage a blended learning approach (even if you’re not offering a distance learning course) and may even have a school, faculty or university-wide strategy for delivering courses in which face-to-face time is enhanced - but not replaced - by online interaction. Integrating MyAccountingLab into your teaching responds to this strategic drive.
MyAccountingLab can also help achieve consistency in teaching and assessing students when you have large cohorts to manage.
Every course has its own challenges. Start by listing the operational concerns and/or aspirations you may have about your course. For example:
- Increasing numbers of students making it difficult to provide enough support to everyone taking the course.
- Supporting many different students with different learning speeds.
- Motivating all students to engage with their learning independently, and learn by practising.
Then map the ways in which you think MyAccountingLab may be able to help you address some of these. For example:
- MyAccountingLab assignments can be timed to become available at a given time and date to suit the needs of the course even if you’re not available.
- The gradebook can tell you which students are falling behind in terms of standard or number of assignments submitted.
- The study plan can offer questions determined by the student’s success or otherwise in previous assignments.
Take a look at the case studies written by some of our MyAccountingLab users to see why and how they have integrated it into their module teaching (you'll need to select the product MyAcountingLab.)
Now you've started to consider the teaching and learning benefits that MyAccountingLab could offer, and how it might satisfy faculty or institutional expectations, your next step is to clarify how it supports your course objectives.
Your courses will include specific learning objectives that your students need to achieve to be successful. These may be implicit or explicit, and they may have been written by you or inherited from the academic who is running, or used to run, the course. In any case, you need to be clear which ones could be met appropriately by using MyAccountingLab.
The following Level 4 descriptors, taken from Gosling, D., & Moon, J. (2001), Learning outcomes and assessment criteria. London: SEEC give an example of the sorts of learning outcomes that might be achieved using MyAccountingLab.
- has a given factual and/or conceptual knowledge base with emphasis on the nature of the field of study and appropriate terminology
- can apply given tools/methods accurately and carefully to a well-defined problem and begin to appreciate the complexity of the issues
- can evaluate own strengths and weaknesses within criteria largely set by others
- can take responsibility for own learning with appropriate support
- can operate in predictable, defined contexts that require use of a specified range of standard techniques
- is able to act with limited autonomy, under direction or supervision, within defined guidelines.
In some MyAccountingLabs, questions are already mapped to pre-defined learning objectives supporting you in creating formative quizzes or tests for your students that match your course coverage.
There is a number of ways in which MyAccountingLab can be used successfully to support teaching and learning. The key to success is to be clear as to why you’re using MyAccountingLab and what specific challenges or needs you want to address.
If this is your first time using MyAccountingLab or a similar online teaching and learning tool, our advice is to start small: for example, set up a small number of assignments before the module starts for your students to access, track their progress and achievement and solicit their feedback as to how helpful they found it.
Reflect on the experience, how it has helped support your modular learning objectives and what you would do differently next time. This way, you can build your confidence and start to demonstrate success to other members of your department before implementing it differently for the next module.
Test it out
You might also choose to ask colleague lecturers to take your assignments. This has two benefits: first, being experienced teachers, they’ll be able to critique the level at which your assignment is set; second, it gives you all experience at using MyAccountingLab without having to make a huge time commitment straight away.
In class or out of class
Decide whether you want to use MyAccountingLab in class or in a supervised and supported environment. It can be used in front of the whole class to demonstrate how to answer a question or use a technique, or in a lab-based tutorial for students to work through exercises at their own pace while being supported by tutors. It could be used as a mixture of the two with different types of assessment lending themselves to different appropriate environments. For example, formative tests could be invigilated whereas a drop-in workshop is a good place for students to work through topics of their choice from the study plan.
As with all online learning, take into account how much introduction your students will need to topics/techniques before they are able to work independently.
Before or after lectures
Alternatively, MyAccountingLab could be used outside of any supported environment. Setting up directed assignments (quizzes and homeworks) associated with particular lectures is very effective; students find this directed learning particularly helpful.
Pre-lecture work could be either diagnostic (a quiz) or informative/preparatory (a homework); post-lecture work could use a homework to reinforce what’s been taught or a quiz to test what’s been learnt. Quizzes and tests are the obvious summative assessment tool, since they require submission of all the questions before MyAccountingLab marks the assignment. Homeworks are marked question-by-question making them perfect for very formative assessment.
If you want to use MyAccountingLab as a revision tool, something more focussed than the study plan is probably best – a homework for honing techniques, or a quiz for practising under time pressure. The study plan is perfect for remedial work as the student can see his/her progress and where more work needs to be done.
You may find it useful to consider and complete the following table:
|Class demonstration||Lab-based tutorial||Drop-in workshop||Directed study pre- or post-lecture|
|Study plan||Questions can be demonstrated to students using help functions such as 'Show me an example' or 'Help me solve this'.||Students can access their choice of topic; questions offered reflect what the student needs to work on.|
|Homework||A directed assignment can provide focused content.||Formative assessment|
|Quiz||Questions can be generated to be worked through on the board.||Summative assessment ||Summative assessment |
|Test||Formal assessment |
The Higher Education Academy, in its publication A Marked Improvement: Transforming assessment in higher education, suggests that:
"Assessment for learning is designed to be formative and diagnostic, providing information about student achievement to both teachers and learners, which allows teaching and learning activities to respond to the needs of the learner and recognises the huge benefit that ongoing and dialogic feedback processes can have on learning. This benefit is enhanced where feedback is embedded in day-to-day learning activities."
MyAccountingLab is ideal to deliver formative and diagnostic assessment: for an assessment to be formative, and its feedback to be timely, the availability needs to take account of how it is feeding into the next step in the learning process. This is where MyAccountingLab has an advantage over conventional assessments, as the fact that it is marked instantly means that the student can respond to any feedback and prepare for the next lecture. Its reporting functionality also means that you can see where common misconceptions or confusions lie and adjust your teaching accordingly.
Your institution will have a guide for equivalences of assessments at different levels, but the QAA publication on Understanding Assessment reminds that the student learning time (200 hours for a 20-credit module) includes all aspects of preparing for and completing the assessment tasks, and that timing is also critical in ensuring that students can receive feedback and can act on that feedback. In other words, if the assessment is formative, and appropriately timed, it can form part of the 9-10 hours per week of private study we expect from students.
The content can be organised proactively - before the module starts - for example, to mimic non-digital assessments you’ve given previous cohorts; or reactively - as you go along - in response to this particular cohort’s needs. The former is probably a safer starting point as, if you choose the latter, you will need to take into account how confident you are about setting assignments, and whether you will have time to do this on a weekly basis.
Either way, you should make sure the study plan is available in advance, so access to it can be student-led. Full support to help you do all of this is available from the Help & Support tool in MyAccountingLab (including lecturer and student support, system requirements and 24/7 technical help).
Hold a first-day-of-class orientation including Q&A
Tell the students why you’re integrating MyAccountingLab into your teaching and what they’ll get out of it. Be very specific as to how you expect them to use it, setting firm and consistent deadlines: it is very intuitive and easy to explore, but students will often only use the parts of it that you have shown them. The Tests and Homework section will display the available and due dates of each assignment and there is a Calendar view of this information, so you can discuss time management with the class.
A MyAccountingLab induction could include an initial assignment, for example a diagnostic quiz or a preparatory homework. If students are registering manually, this could take place during such an induction.
Require participation - make it count towards final marks
It’s very easy in MyAccountingLab to set both a practice version and an assessed version of an assignment. This way, even formative assessment can count towards a final mark, which of course increases the likelihood of it being submitted. Regular assessment with appropriate feedback helps with retention and learning.
You might also consider setting an initial formative assessment that doesn’t count towards a final mark. This can then be used to iron out any procedural or process issues without disadvantaging the final course grade.
Communicate regularly with your students
Each of your courses in MyAccountingLab has a Homepage which shows upcoming assignments and any announcements you make. Use the Announcements functionality, on top of regular emails from your lecturer account, to remind the students of your expectations and to alert them to changes in course dates or course information.
During your course
Once your module has started, you can use the Gradebook functionality within MyAccountingLab to track your students' progress. If helpful, you can set it up to alert you when students haven't engaged with MyAccountingLab for a period of time.
You'll quickly notice if there are students who aren't engaging with it, who aren't completing assignments or perhaps haven’t even 'joined' your MyAccountingLab session. Non-engagement with MyAccountingLab can be a symptom of various problems, and the type and amount of non-engagement can be an indication of the type and extent of the problem.
For example, a student who is not at all engaged with the course may not even log in to MyAccountingLab, whereas one who logs in but attempts only the first couple of questions of a practice assignment may be in denial about their ability, or otherwise, to complete the course. There are also some students who aren't as comfortable with online technology as we might expect or assume.
Most non-engagement issues can be addressed by impelling students to use MyAccountingLab. For example, by attending a compulsory supervised lab session or by making practice assignments a prerequisite for an associated assessment.
My Progress Graph and My Achievements are two motivational tools you can encourage students to use (these can be found in the Home Page settings of MyAccountingLab). You can also email individual users directly from MyAccountingLab using the email address they registered with.
Performance data and engagement tracking is only powerful if brought back to affect teaching and learning; acting on the data you have and working in partnership with your students is key to your module’s success.
MyAccountingLab gradebook is a powerful tool that can support you to maximise the effectiveness of your teaching. Our detailed User Guide gives a complete overview of how to use the gradebook to assess learning. Depending on what you want to achieve, there is a number of different ways you can view, drill into and report on the data collected.
Getting a top level view of all assignment results for this year's module can give you an indication as to how this cohort is performing in comparison with last year's. Understanding this early on in the semester gives you an opportunity to discuss changing teaching strategies to respond to identified needs.
Personalised learning experience
Understanding where each student is on their learning journey gives you the opportunity to personalise their learning experience and to communicate with them proactively. However, in large cohorts, it may be unrealistic to spend significant periods of time tracking and communicating every student journey. Personalised communication to students who may be at risk of failing the module to offer more or different levels of support can change their behaviour, encourage active participation and ultimately provide a more satisfying learning experience.
MyAccountingLab can help you to communicate with these students more effectively, for example, by setting up the inactivity alert and using the 'email student' function.
Understanding how your students are performing at a question level can help you to plan more effective and more interactive face-to-face teaching time, focusing on a specific topic or principle that the majority of your class don't seem to have understood. Alternatively, you could plan peer-supported revision sessions focused around those areas.
Feedback supports learning by providing timely, specific information to students about their understanding and performance at meaningful points during the learning experience. When used appropriately, it can improve rates of learning, retention, comprehension and overall achievement.
Students are in control of their own learning, which is ultimately what being at university is all about. They get consistent and immediate results from MyAccountingLab assessments; they know straight away whether they've passed or failed. They also get feedback on their results and understand which questions they got right or wrong. It gives them a chance to practise, practise and practise in a safe environment.
By assigning regular formative assessments in MyAccountingLab, you're offering your students the opportunity to demonstrate what they know and to understand what they don't know. MyAccountingLab questions are automatically marked and students receive instant feedback.
- Tests and quizzes are instantly marked but you can control when the student can review the assessment
- Individual questions in homeworks and the Study Plan are marked and comments given where available
- Study Plan questions available to each student are determined by whether or not those questions were correct in the quiz or test where they appeared.
Feedback on its own is not always enough - students need to learn how to use the feedback to improve their understanding of the material. This can feed into a personal development plan when the students analyse their individual learning processes.
As module coordinator, you may need to mentor this feedback loop by encouraging students to take responsibility for what they do or do not understand. One very simple way for students to acknowledge the iterative learning process is to select 'Similar Exercise' (available within each question) until they have mastered the principle.
After your course ends
Using baseline data for your course can help you make 'before' and 'after' comparisons of student progress and achievement. If you are about to start using MyAccountingLab, you might want to consider using it without altering the assessment structure of your module (that is, using it for practice only or simply replacing some or all of the existing assessments with a similar MyAccountingLab alternative). Not only does this allow staff to become familiar with its functionality, but the marks and progress can also be compared more cleanly.
- You might also choose to make comparisons of:
- homework or assessment scores and final grades with those of past semesters
- correlation between time spent and final grades. Remember that there may be outliers due to, for example, students who are comfortable with the material but not the software
- retention rates.
- You might want to ask students about their experience of using MyAccountingLab. Any analysis of student perceptions needs to take into account students' initial and ongoing feelings toward both the technology and the subject.
- It is also worth asking other tutors on the module. Of course, this is subjective and will be coloured by their feelings towards blended learning in general and MyAccountingLab in particular, but it all helps to build a picture of how MyAccountingLab has affected not just students' results but their attitudes, too.
- With colleagues, compare how much time you/they have spent fielding student issues and supporting students who struggled to grasp basic concepts with the last time you ran the course. Has this resulted in more substantial progress to be made through the course material or the team teaching differently during face-to-face sessions?
- Another comparison that can be made (and again it may be subjective, but still adds to the picture) is how much or how little intervention you as a module leader had to make in terms of directing weaker students to extra support, or stretching stronger students by offering extra material. In addition, were you or the teaching team able to redirect your time elsewhere if students accessed additional support or practice and seemed to come directly to you less often?
Whether or not your department has bought MyAccountingLab for your students, inevitably there is an investment of time when setting up an online teaching or learning tool. The budget-holder in your department will be keen to understand the value that MyAccountingLab has brought to the teaching and learning experience.
Advantages to point out could include:
- blended learning
- improved student engagement, experience and satisfaction
- decreased drop-out rates
- flexibility to track and intervene in order to direct students to specific support
- more timely interventions
- addressing gaps in achievement
- student evaluation of own strengths and weaknesses
- student ability to take responsibility for own learning with appropriate support
- students come to class better prepared
- self-paced learning with immediate feedback to optimise understanding
- personalised learning path that both targets the exact skills students need to work on and delivers the right material they need to master those skills
- automated formative assessment
- increased grade achievement
- improved module feedback
- time saved across the teaching team.