Stop Getting “Because I Said So!!!” Answers

Because I Said So answers do not generally come from the accounting instructors; they do often come from the accounting material.
A “because I said so” answer is an answer that has no explanation. We have all experienced and given a “because I said so” answer from time to time, and they are useful from time to time, often when we have limited time to act, but they are not generally helpful in education because the point of education is to learn the why.
In other words, the point of education is not to get the answers but to understand the right questions and an approach to solving them.
The most traditional educational resource is an instructor and some degree of one on one communication, a dialog.
As class sizes grow, however, institutions are moving away from a traditional instructor as the center of their educational model, relying more heavily on electronic resources.
Books are the classic supplement for an instructor and books are great, but they have their limitations due to the format of the book. Only so much information can fit on a page. The book cannot respond back to questions in the same way an instructor can.
Most book questions are formatted in multiple choice or short answer format because this is the format the lends itself best to a book.
Many institutions are moving away from a physical textbook into an online database. The online textbook has many of the same pros and cons as a physical book, but the database has other advantages such as automatic grading options and a way to sort questions quickly.
A database program and sort and grade multiple choice questions and short answer question very quickly but is still limited in the type of response it will give. For example, we may learn that the answer to a multiple choice question is C. The answer could also provide a short explanation but the explanation is seldom sufficient to understand a new concept in accounting because the questions we new learners will have are related to how this small piece of information fits into the big picture; what is the point, the reason for learning this piece of information.
The format of questions most institutions assign is driven by the technology they use to distribute rather than the format best for facilitating learning. The database program is great at giving multiple choice and short answer questions, but these are not the questions best for learning.
A good strategy for learning new accounting concepts is to look for more comprehensive problems that show the big picture, working them multiple times until we understand the new concept, and then going to the database program to practice those tricky multiple-choice questions. This method will stop us from merely memorizing for a short term and move us to understanding and memorizing for the long term.

Savior From Mr. Old Pen & Paper Accounting Instructor

Mr. or Ms. Old Pen and Paper is an instructor that is completely dependent on pen and paper to explain accounting concepts. Note, we have nothing against Mr. Old Pen and Paper, we have learned much from Mr. Old Pen and Paper instructors, and have a bit of Mr. Old Pen and Paper tendencies and characteristics ourselves. Although we are working on improving the pen and paper dependency, the old component of Old Pen and Paper is likely only to get worse as time passes, but that is OK. It is what it is. Anyways. . . Teaching accounting using a pen and paper does have some valid advantages over using a magical database program because it allows us to see connections between data more clearly than a magical database problem, but the connections take a long to formulate and are not as clear as an electronic spreadsheet program like Excel. One problem with the use of a pen and paper to teach is that a comprehensive problem can take entire day instead of an hour with Excel. We also must erase any errors, and when we make mistakes, we will need to reformate our entire problem for every area the error effects. We will also need to think about how to format the problem on a piece of paper. Mr. Old Pen and Paper has worked problems with pen and paper so long that he does it perfectly, with no mistakes, and no need to erase. However, when learning accounting we do a lot of erasing and tinkering with the data. Excel is much better to test data scientifically because we can test many different assumptions much more quickly and transparently. Teaching and learning with a pen and paper also involve handwriting issues. In other words, we need to be able to read the handwriting of our instructor and ourselves. Many Old Pen and Paper instructors are very good a writing legibly, and the skill of handwriting was highly valued in the field of accounting for a long time, but it is much less appreciated now because we will not be presenting information in a handwritten format.

Avoid Floating Journal Entries

Avoid Floating Journal Entries.
If you had to take a multiple-choice question test on the game of chess, without the benefit of a chess board during the test, would you remove the chess board while studying, or would studying with the chess board be a better use of your time? ? ?
What are floating journal entries and why avoid them?
Floating journal entries are journal entries that are not connected to anything, not connected to a general ledger, a trial balance, financial statements, the accounting equation, or some other format of the double entry accounting system.
Don’t get us wrong, floating journal entries have their place, and should be used when necessary, but they are used way too often during study time when we could be applying much more efficient methods of study.
Floating journal entries are often the result of limited space, limited resources, or limited information in book problems. When faced with these challenges we must use floating journal entries, but we should look for ways to study in a better format.
Explaining an accounting transaction with a floating journal entry is like explaining a chess move by holding up one chess piece without the chess board and describing how the chess piece moves on the board. If we can visualize the board, we can comprehend the move and the explanation, but nobody learns chess by imagining the board. We learn chess by doing, by moving the peace’s, and by observing the results on the entire system. Even if we were to be tested on chess with a multiple-choice test that has no board, we would not study for the test by eliminating the board. Instead, we would work with the chess board so much that it becomes something we can visualize. We do this through doing.
A floating journal entry is similar to explaining accounting without using the board. When learning chess, we do not assume that we learned the chess board in chapter one and we can now move onto other things because all things related to chess have to do with the board. The same is true of accounting. The board we use will be a trial balance.
We should look for problems that use the trial balance because this will maximize our study time by allowing us to fully engage with a problem and see how it works, rather then memorizing journal entries without fulling understanding their purpose or effect on the financial statements.
For more accounting information see accounting website.

How Long To Master Accounting?

How long does it take to master accounting is a common question that is not easy to answer. One reason is that accounting is a very large topic and is not easy to fully define. Accounting can be thought of a subset of business or, in some cases, of law. The topic of business, in general, is way too large for any one person to master because it touches so many related fields. Deciding to focus on accounting is a step in the right direction for many learners because it allows us to set more defined goals. Accounting is still a huge topic, however, and we generally need to specialize further and set more short-term goals. Having accounting mastery as a long-term vision, rather than a short term goal, can help us develop a vision and allow us to set short term goals along the way. For example, we may set goals to get a degree in accounting and break this goal up into smaller chunks including classes, and then tests, and then study time and so on. Once we achieve the goal of a diploma, many of us run into a problem. We achieved our goal and need another. It is also possible to learn accounting on the job rather than go the academic path. Choosing to learn accounting on the job and our own generally requires more specific planning and goal setting because we do not have the structure of the formal educational path, but it is very doable and helps develop the skills of setting goals and charting our course. Supplementing our accounting resources in much easier than many would think. The order of most formal accounting programs is well defined. We can look up the textbooks of large publishers and see that the order of the content is much the same across the major accounting textbooks of those publishers. The outline of the accounting textbook, the table of contents, can provide a structure for us to supplement our accounting resources. For more accounting information see accounting website.

In What Order Should Accounting Be Learned?

Learners of accounting often ask about the best order to learn accounting topics, a question that usually means one of two things: • Should we learn accounting software before accounting theory, accounting theory before accounting software, or does it matter, or • In what order should we learn accounting topics. The relationship between accounting software and accounting theory comes from our perspective and experience and usually takes one of two forms. Either: • We are working in accounting where we learn accounting software but do not get much book knowledge in accounting theory or • We are an accounting student learning a lot of book knowledge but seeing little computer application. The best way to learn accounting is to learn both accounting theory and application at the same time because the application helps test the theory and helps us learn much faster. The question about accounting topics and what order they should be learned in often comes from people considering going to school for accounting or supplementing their skills. It is often thought that we need to go to school to find out what order we should learn accounting in; Not true. The foundational skills of accounting are very standardized at this point. If we want to subsidize our accounting learning, we have the resources to do so. One method is to look at a basic accounting textbook from any large publisher and use the table of contents as a guide to build and order our learning resources. Large publishers include McGraw-Hill, Cengage, and Pearson.

Secret To Learning Accounting Faster

The secret to learning accounting concepts faster.
In short, Excel.
Many learners do not consider Excel as a learning tool, but more like using a calculator during a test of addition and subtraction, equating the use of Excel to a tool for cheating, rather than a tool for learning.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If we want to learn accounting concepts better and in far less time, we need to use Excel.
Some learners may reason that because the test does not allow the use of Excel, they should not study using Excel, understandable reasoning, but not entirely correct, and reasoning that will result in much more study time for the same results during test time.
The reason Excel works well as a study tool is not that it makes shortcuts but that it reduces data entry and allows for the testing of concepts without wasting time recalculating.
In other words, the performance of the, usually basic, math skills needing for accounting are not the new thing we are learning. What we are learning is closer to the rules of a new game and how to apply them. Excel allows us to spend our time figuring out the new task of learning how the game works rather than an already mastered task like adding up a list of numbers using a calculator.
For courses designed with Excel exercises in mind see accounting website.