Course Syllabus

I am one of those who got too fall behind to complete the course. But I am going to try to get a week or two more done before the end of the week.   I am committed to putting together a on line version of my course by the spring semester and the way my spring semesters go and with a new prep this fall, it really needs to get a solid start this summer.  So tonight I created my goals.  I have not figured out how to specifically share my google doc with OLE, but Monday I will ask for help.

Those objectives they make you put in the syllabus have always been an empty activity for me.   They always seem so vague and useless.  First let me share with you what is on my current syllabus (blessed and approved by my department).  They are at the bottom of this post. I suggest that you do not really spend much time reading them.  They are not a total waste of ink.

After reading “Everything You Know About Curriculum May Be Wrong.  Really.” , I at least understand why the department secretary was insistent that the objectives listed below had to be action statements. She gave me a list of them to choose from.  So I picked words like “define” and “Identify” and dumped accounting terminology around them.

What’s Worth Learning in School?” definitely  resonated with me.  We require all students in the Business School to take two accounting courses.  The second one focuses on planning and controlling costs.  I am always more comfortable teaching that one since there are a lot of practical outcomes.   The first accounting course is similar to the Fundamental of Accounting we teach at the graduate level that is my focus in the OLE.  Our focus is on preparing financial statements.  Most of my students simply do not see the value in learning the basics of putting together a set of financials statements.   A position I totally understand.   However, so many of them have very poor “reading words and numbers”  and problem solving skills that I try hard to focus on these.  Hopefully by the end of the semester they are better prepared to advance academically in general even if they remember nothing specific about accounting.

Frankly most accounting syllabi I found are pretty similar to what I have posted below or they use the “content headings” approach.  This is the one I used too before  our department secretary insisted that I change to action words.  We certainly do not do anything in out syllabi to excite the students about the possibilities.

Before you read the objective from my current syllabus here are the ones I cannot figure out how to post to the communal drive.  They are not much more exciting than the ones I am currently using, but they do a better job of telling students what we are trying to accomplish.


Primary Objective:  Understand and apply the basic rules of accounting to construct the four basic financial statements.



  1. Students should understand the principle of matching of revenue and expenses.  This is the underlying principle that drives much of the rules of accounting.
  2. Students should understand the concept of  accounts.
  3. Students should be able to translate a financial transaction into the accounts needed to record it for accounting purposes.
  4. Students should be able to formulate all four of the financial statements.
  5. Students should be able to construct and interpret financial ratios.
  6. Students should understand accounting numbers are used  by investors, creditors, regulators, and manager.


Core Questions:

  1. When is income recorded by  the accounting system?
  2. What are the requirements for recording expenses?
  3. What is the role of accounts in the recording of financial transactions?
  4. What are the components of  the Income Statement and what information does it provide?
  5. What are the components of  the  Statement of Changes in Owner’s Equity and what information does it provide?
  6. What are the components of  the Balance Sheet  and what information does it provide?
  7. What are the components of  the Changes in Cash Flow Statement and what information does it provide?
  8. What are financial ratios?
  9. What are the two major ways that financial ratios can be used to evaluate accounting information?
  10. Who uses the financial statements?

What I currently have as objectives is next:

Objectives Outcomes: At the end of this course students should be able to
Graduates will demonstrate the ability to use analytical reasoning to comprehend and communicate problems; evaluate the significance of evidence or facts; verify information for problem definition and solution; propose and evaluate alternative solutions. 1.       Define and distinguish between cash basis and accrual basis accounting and the impact of each on the financial statements.

2.       Compute and interpret key financial ratios.

3.       Identify the ethical implications inherent in financial reporting and be able to apply strategies for addressing them.

Graduates will demonstrate an understanding of the core business and strategic concepts involved in accounting. Specifically, students need to comprehend the impact of information systems on the profession and to leverage technology for decision-making. 1.       Explain the nature of current assets including the measuring and reporting of items such as short-term investments, receivables and bad debts, inventory and costs of goods sold, and prepaid expenses.

2.       Identify and illustrate how internal controls are used to manage and control the firm’s resources and risk.

Graduates will demonstrate a broad base of knowledge across accounting topics and be able to apply that knowledge in a variety of contexts. 1.      Use accounting and business terminology, and understand the nature and purpose of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).

2.      Recognize the information conveyed in each of the four basic financial statements and the way it is used by investors, creditors, regulators, and managers.

3.      Explain the importance of operating, investing, and financing activities reported in the statement of cash flows when evaluating firm performance and solvency.

4.      Identify and illustrate issues relating to stockholders’ equity including the issuance of stock, repurchase of stock, and dividends.




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